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Instilling confidence and competence through volunteer training.

By Ruth Clinch - Education Leader 4 years ago
Categories Fiji Islands

Volunteers arrive in-country keen to get started with project work. With volunteers enrolling on our projects for as little as two weeks it is important that they feel that their time is well spent and they are able to make a valuable contribution in our schools.  For the efficacy of our project and the health of our partnership with the schools it is essential that volunteers are well equipped to go into the classroom and deliver our education programme effectively. One of the key reason why some volunteers struggle to be motivated and find their feet on-project is a lack of confidence. We are lucky enough to have very passionate and dedicated volunteers but going into classroom can be very daunting. The vast majority of our volunteers are not trained teachers and most have little or no experience in the classroom. Giving volunteers the tools they need to manage their class and plan and deliver our programme effectively is of the up most importance.

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Previously training has been run Monday – Thursday at 4pm on volunteers’ first week. It can be difficult for them to stay focused after a day on project and this means that 2 week volunteers are only fully trained by their 5th day at school.  The initial training programme has been sufficient and has grown organically with the project over the past 2 years. With the changes to the project itself and increased volunteer numbers it has been necessary to adapt and update the training we offer.


Our new education training programme is run over 2 days on-site at Navunisea District School. This means that volunteers receive their training in context where they can become familiar with our ways of working, our resources and the teaching environment. This makes the training more meaningful and the school environment stimulates discussion, helping volunteers apply what they are learning to our specific context. Additionally the intensive workshops over 2 days allow focus to be maintained. The training has been specifically designed to suit our adapted education programme. Key areas of focus include Teaching English as a Foreign Langauage, Classroom Management, Planning and Teaching, 1:1 Phonics tuition, Literacy Groups, and Writing Workshops. This covers all of the tasks volunteers are expected to undertake at school. Volunteers are introduced to the materials and resources, schemes of work and syllabus they will be following. This enables them to support their Fijian colleagues in curriculum teaching and maintain consistency in spite of volunteer turnover. The training draws on materials and ideas developed in both Kenya and Fiji, utilising the diverse experience of a staff team in mainstream and specialist education, youth work and teaching in development settings. In addition, the training utilises feedback from volunteers and is tailored to their experience.

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The workshops are interactive and engaging and designed to enthuse and motivate volunteers to go into the classroom able to have a positive impact in our schools. Aspects of professional development we have worked on with our Fijian colleagues are also covered so that there is consistency of approach throughout school.