Congratulations and bon voyage to Head of Modern Foreign Languages Mr Robert Nicholls who is retiring to go on a two-year adventure to Africa.
Mr Nicholls trained as a teacher 15 years ago after a diverse career that saw him work as a bottle top salesman and then travel the world as a representative for the Oxfam and Sightsavers charities.
His initial teaching post was in a secondary school in Brighton where the GCSE pass rate stood at 6% for German and 4% for French. After being rapidly promoted to head of department he transformed the figures to 78% and 66% respectively within five years.
Mr Nicholls came to Brooke Weston eight years ago as Head of Modern Foreign Languages and, since then, he has been a regular fixture at the school giving assemblies and organising trips to Germany and further afield. He cited the first World Challenge trip as one of the pinnacles of his teaching career.
'I was asked to organise an expedition. I remembered an Oxfam talk I had attended 20 years earlier by the field director from Peru showing slides of how beautiful the country is and so we took the trip there, it was phenomenal. The Sixth Form trips to a language school in Germany have also been really successful as the students stay with German families and have to cope and get around the city under their own devices so that is a little like World Challenge.
'The thing I like best is results day, seeing the students bouncing around. Teaching is a fabulous job if it fits, and if it doesn’t fit it can be frightening and draining. As a teacher there is an emotional bank account with children. When you start off you have nothing in the account, they don’t have any link with you at all. When you have taken them on a trip or have stood in the wings of a school play with them when they were scared or have stood on a touchline with them and played sport or whatever, you have put something into the bank account. When you then need to discipline them you have got something against which to draw and that is why the first year of teaching is so hard because you haven’t built up that account. I have absolutely no regrets about becoming a teacher, it is the best job I have ever done.'
'Mr Nicholls and his wife, Linda will go to South Sudan on a two year placement with VSO where they will work in the fledgling education system. They have raised money for the charity by auctioning off Mr Nicholls’ extensive tie collection and the proceeds of a mufti Day at Brooke Weston was also donated.
Mr Nicholls said, 'I am leaving with many special memories of the staff and students at Brooke Weston. It has been an incredible place to work and it will doubtless be hard saying goodbye, but I always wanted to do something exciting in my retirement and going to South Sudan will certainly be a brand new adventure.'
Mr Nicholls will be writing a blog of his experiences which can be accessed from the link below.