Fiona is qualified as a secondary teacher in Scotland but worked in Italy for many years, teaching in schools, including SEN, and then universities. 


Blog from Iraq 30 September 2017

I’m waiting in Baghdad for the situation in Kurdistan to settle. The Referendum for Kurdish independence on 25 September has caused more disruptions than I would have anticipated and I’m wondering how this might affect my work over the coming few months. British Council and Mercy Corps were planning to train 20 coaches to deliver English classes in Youth Centres in both Kurdistan and Iraq and the easiest place to hold the training was Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Now the airspace in Erbil has been closed to all but domestic flights and this changes the situation somewhat. The youth centres are pinpoints of light in communities where there is a mix of displaced people, local communities and Syrian refugees and the traditional Ministry of Education school system struggles to cope. The coaches, who are also young and often from ethnic minorities or displaced, themselves, train the beneficiaries in Life Skills, including English language. Apparently this is the most popular subject for many students attending the cycle. 

Coaches get 10 days of very basic training, as most of them are not teachers and their English level is quite low. We try to get them to make simple changes in their teaching, changes which will make the lessons more fun and engaging for the young people attending; this could be encouraging them to speak mostly English during the lesson or helping them make the content of the lessons more relevant to the students’ lives. 

I’m really hoping things calm down and we can continue with our programme soon!