For our first Teacher Feature of the academic year, we head into EYFS, for a bouncy interview with our new Head of Early Years, Miss Isla Gillespie.

Joining us from our sister school in Shanghai, Miss Gillespie brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm into our Early Years team, with her hands-on approach and a real passion for developing the skills and interests of our youngest learners.

Briefly describe your journey as a teacher.

I have been truly blessed throughout my life to have amazing people who have guided me and mentored me within my teaching career. After completing my undergraduate degree in Drama, I finally announced I was going to do my PGCE to become a teacher and there was a huge ‘We always knew she would be a teacher’ from family friends, as they had been waiting for me to realise my vocation.

After completing my PCGE with specialism in Early Years at Goldsmiths, I ventured into my vocation through a federation of schools in Hackney working as a Nursery lead and PSCHE coordinator. Here I built strong foundations in my teaching as the schools where Outstanding schools providing support for others. After four and a half years I delved into international teaching with a move to Switzerland to start a Nursery at an international school in Geneva. Loving the international part of teaching I continued my journey to Britannica Shanghai, BISL’s Orbital sister school, where I took on the role of Head of Early Years, Senior Leader (SLT). Now coming full circle, I find myself back in Europe at BISL, looking forward to developing the Early Years here, being closer to family and seeing what Slovenia has to offer.

Why did you decide to specialise in Early Years?

Young children are the most inspiring people as they see the world differently to everyone else. They explore uninhibitedly and with such curiosity and no day is ever the same in an EY classroom. I decided to specialise in Early Years during my PGCE as Early Education is such an important part of a child’s development, building key foundations to future learning. Getting a child’s early key skills right will set them up for life and provide a strong outlook for their future.

What makes BISL such a unique place to work?

From the first the moment I joined the BISL team the whole community made me feel welcome, from colleagues, students, parents, and support staff. The collaborative team with immense enthusiasm create a wonderful environment for students to thrive in their learning, alongside their social skills. At the heart of it all is the students, who bounce into school with such joy and eagerness, it makes teaching a daily pleasure.

How would you describe a typical day at BISL?

I would say, working in Early Years, there is never a typical day as there are always different ways children will learn and explore their learning. Saying that, my typical day starts early with a cup of coffee, a race around the classroom creating fun, stimulating, hands-on activities for students and then greeting colleagues as I see them working across the school. My favourite moment is opening the door to greet the beaming smiles from the Early Years students and seeing them gasp with excitement at what they could be learning about that day. It is then into energic Literacy, mathematics, creative and explorational play indoor and outside with the students and another coffee to keep the energy up. With a final energy boost, we round the day off with a good old sing song before I wave goodbye to the students. I then always check to see where I may have paint, glop, or glitter because it is guaranteed I will have acquired it somewhere on me throughout the day!

Why is the experience of an international education important for a student?

An international education gives students the opportunity to collaborate, inspire, develop and experience being a global citizen while gaining an excellent education in their life. The students who attend international school grow as young people appreciating the world around them, with a strong understanding of cultures and often will become bilingual or trilingual as they are exposed to a plethora of languages throughout their school life. Here at BISL, it is a delight to see the students join together from so many different countries and grow as global citizens.

More about Early Years

If you have children aged 3-6 and are looking to make new friends in a fun international setting, if they love stories and are interested in learning English, join one of our upcoming Story Time sessions, starting September 23!