Delivering an ‘irreplaceable learning experience’ overseas

ASDAN Development Co-ordinator Karen Hudspith plays a key role in the charity’s international programme. She discusses her extensive travelling, jet lag, being cooked for by learners, the buzz of running workshops and how ASDAN courses have transformed the lives of students across the world.

ASDAN’s work with international schools began in 1999 with the registration of the Kuwait English School. In the 17 years that have followed, the appeal of ASDAN’s flexible, activity-based curriculum has attracted an ever-growing number of international English speaking schools and education and training providers. ASDAN courses are now offered in almost 400 schools in 37 different places worldwide including Australia, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Thailand and mainland Europe. The states of Western Australia and Queensland have officially recognised the value of ASDAN’s curriculum programmes and have expanded their provision of our programmes across many of their schools.

The majority of our international schools offer Preparation for Adulthood, Personal Development Programmes, and Short Courses. The ability to provide an inclusive and personalised curriculum that develops skills for independence, employability and life holds great appeal. ASDAN’s engaging curriculum is recognised as complementing and enhancing students’ academic studies. One ASDAN Centre, ProEducation in Bali, sums it up perfectly when describing how our programmes have benefitted a particular student:  “ASDAN courses gave Matt an opportunity to work with others, pursue his own interests and develop his learning in a way that would otherwise not have been possible, and it has been an irreplaceable learning experience.”

As with UK centres, international centres wishing to deliver our programmes are required to undergo training. Centres may choose to send staff to UK workshops in Bristol and build in a visit to our central office, or to London and allow time for sightseeing. Some decide to arrange in-country training, partnering up with other schools in their area and thereby sharing costs; and others opt for training through Skype.

Since taking up my international role in September 2014, I have been fortunate enough to deliver teacher training in Paris, Gibraltar, Bangkok, the Cayman Islands and Singapore. My hosts have always gone out of their way to make me welcome and to ensure I see as much of their schools and culture as my short visits allow. Jet lag, adjustments to time difference and matching appropriate business dress to climate, all pose interesting challenges, but these are far outweighed by the adrenaline that accompanies running workshops.

Delivering teacher training has to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job, second only to meeting the students whose lives are enriched by ASDAN programmes. During my recent visit to Dover Court International School in Singapore, a group of post-16 students prepared a delicious lunch for me of noodles, chicken and stir fry vegetables as part of their Towards Independence Independent Living Module. Their tutor explained how the course had enabled students to progress from struggling to make cold drinks and simple snacks to being able to prepare and cook an increasing range of hot meals. In addition, their shopping and budgeting skills had improved as had their confidence, communication skills and self-esteem. It turned out to be the only authentic meal I had time for during my 36 hour visit and one that I will remember for a long time to come.

ASDAN’s international footprint continues to expand with training and moderation visits planned for Hong Kong and Bangkok in August and the Middle East in October and November. International schools wishing to find out more about training opportunities should visit the ASDAN international website, or contact me at karenhudspith@asdanteam.org.uk for more details. 

Author: Karen Hudspith, ASDAN Development Manager

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