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Pleased to Meet You…Helen McMullen

11 March 2015

This week we spoke with Helen McMullen, Year 5 teacher and found out why she moved to Shanghai and what inspired her to start the popular Primary Science Evenings.

  • Year 5 Teacher Helen McMullen

How long have you been working at BISS Puxi? This is my fourth year, which has somewhat snuck up on me. I spent my first three, wonderful, years here in Year 1, before making the big jump up to Year 5. It’s been really lovely getting to know new students and our new curriculum is really exciting. I’ve also been the Science Coordinator here for three years, but more on that later!

What do you enjoy about working here? I love working at BISS Puxi. I’ve always been lucky enough to have genuinely brilliant students and as that adds up to over 90 children over the year, I suspect that just might mean that the children at BISS Puxi are wonderful!

The emphasis on practical, hands on lessons means that I enjoy every day and we get to do unusual, surprising or just fun activities. The other lovely thing about working at BISS Puxi is that the teachers are really rather nice too, so we get to have fun while planning and preparing lessons so we really get to enjoy our jobs and days at ‘work’.

What made you want to move to Shanghai? I worked in Guangzhou in South China years and years ago when I first finished University, back when I worked for the British Council. It was a wonderful experience and I was lucky enough to visit Shanghai for training many times. When I saw that BISS Puxi were advertising I jumped at the chance to apply for the job, the fantastic reputation of the school and Nord Anglia Education in general preceded it and I had developed a taste for xiao long bao which wasn’t being satisfied back home.

As the Primary Science Coordinator, you run Science Evenings for parents and children to work together: why do you think these are so valuable? I went to a school which offered similar evenings, and it’s the only time I can remember my parents both coming to school to do an activity with me. The problems set often required littler fingers, so I was able to contribute and become an expert as we all pitched in ideas and solved a problem together.

When I became Science Coordinator one of the first things I did was roll out a trial evening of the Great Egg Race with Year 6 – it was lovely to have such a big turn out and to see families interacting as I remember doing with my mum and dad. Since then Bird Flu has meant we get more creative with our tasks, and we’ve made marble runs, extendable grabbers, flying machines and many, many more devices.

What is the one thing you can't live without? Marmite or possibly proper, unpasteurised cheese. This is like Sophie’s choice. I also normally drink straight out of the tap as soon as I get home and then go to Boots and accidentally spend a fortune. Apparently I need a lot to survive.

Where are you from and what do you miss from home? I’m from West London and my family are all still there, so I miss them quite a lot! My friends are also sadly missed and usually inspire a trip home at least once a year. I have a lot of brothers and sisters and nephews, so I’m used a big, noisy family life (though luckily my Shanghai friends are always happy to step in and make sure I’m not lonely). I used to really enjoy living close to the West End and going to the theatre regularly, which I don’t manage as much here so I’m really excited to go to A Midsummer Night’s Dream soon.