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Andrea O’Keeffe

Andrea O’Keeffe

Upper Primary Coordinator & Primary Teacher

Andrea is incredibly fortunate to have a very diverse background. She is Irish and Spanish, she was born in the UK, moved east when she was four and attended international school in Japan up to Year 11. She completed my studies in the UK, completing the IB diploma and BSc in Natural Sciences, before finishing the PGCE in Primary Education at the University of Cambridge.

  • Graduated with University of Cambridge (PGCE) and Durham University (BSc).
  • 11 years' teaching experience.
  • Taught in the UK, Cairo, Egypt and Penang. 

I am Irish and Spanish and spent all of my school life learning and growing at an international school. My family moved to Japan when I was four on a two-year contract and it was 15 years before my parents moved back to Europe. Being of mixed background and having grown up in a culture very different to my home ones, I have always been keen to learn more about other cultures and identify with the 'third-culture' pupils I have worked with, in various places. 

 

I strongly believe that international schools play a huge role in this. Children are naturally inquisitive and are always asking about what is going on around them. What is going on around them depends on what they are exposed to. If they live and play alongside children of adults who have exactly the same background as their parents, then they will grow up with the same preconceptions that have been passed down to them from generation to generation and as an educator, I feel that this mould needs to be broken. Through inquiry teaching, pupils naturally explore those things that are the same and different to themselves and learn to see the connections between their learning and experiences.

 

I feel that my international school gave me a great skill, a skill to communicate in many different ways even within the same language and to be patient with others with whom you are communicating. After all, one of the pillars of understanding is communication. I aim to be as approachable as possible because in my experience so far, this invites the most honest and intriguing questions children to have about the world around them. Consequently, I hope to teach and learn at an international school so that I can be a part of this cycle. I believe that because of this, I was quickly appointed to Phase Leader for Upper Key Stage in my first international post; because I was able to be open-minded, a good communicator and a co-operator to lead my team to the next level. Together I led them to restructure the curriculum to be more inquiry-based in addition to linking the British National Curriculum to more PYP inquiry experiences. Moreover, I helped to improve assessment systems to enhance assessment for learning inside the school and improve planning and assessment opportunities. This experience was furthered as Science leader in my next post.Outside the classroom, children learn a great deal more than just subject knowledge; they also learn other core skills such as making compromises, negotiating and co-operation. Just like I enjoy participating in activities outside of work, for example playing on a local football and basketball team, I try as much as possible to be involved in creating opportunities for children outside of the classroom. My personal highlight has been coaching tee-ball and football at the FOBISIA primary games where the children have excelled despite competing against schools that have access to better facilities than we do. I have also enjoyed supporting children at both the FOBISIA and AIMS maths competitions and helping to facilitate more STEAM activities provided as part of our school curriculum and ASA programme.