Lauren Blake joined Framlingham College as Graduate Scholar in September 2021 following completion of her degree in Modern Languages from Durham University. Here, she gives us insights into her role, her passions and why she created the bi-weekly Berners Review.
I graduated in June 2021 from Durham University following a challenging final two years of university as a result of the pandemic. After a cancelled year abroad, online learning, and a dissertation written with limited access to the library, it’s fair to say that my passion for academia had plummeted.
I had planned to move straight into a master’s degree but my heart wasn't in it; I needed to take some time away to remind myself why I love my subject and learning in general. What better place to reignite that spark than a school full of young learners? ”
The opportunity to work at the College presented itself right on time. I love working with children and young people, particularly in the boarding environment, and I felt as though my values aligned acutely with those of the school. I remember saying in interview that this was ‘the perfect graduate position’ after hearing the details from David Ashton.
My primary aim as Graduate Scholar is to stimulate a culture of learning and a thirst for research throughout the school. As a student it can be so easy to lose sight of the reasons we learn when your primary concern is to secure the grades you want and/or need.
Of course, educational attainment is important, but learning reaches much further than this. Erudition is a gateway to open minds, exciting experiences, and brighter futures and it is a privilege to have a small part is granting this to our pupils.
Based in the library, I spend my days surrounded by books and working on new ways to nurture the spirit of curiosity and joy of learning routed within each of our pupils.
My focus has to make the Framlingham College library a more welcoming space. All too often, a library can feel cold, austere, and intimidating which, in my opinion, is not conducive to fostering a passion for learning.
I’ve loved adding a bit more colour to the shelves and creating various displays. It feels so rewarding when a pupil chooses to use their spare time to read or relax on the sofas upstairs as I aim to make the Berners Library a comfortable and accessible place. As exam season approaches, I hope the library will remain a calm space where pupils can prepare peacefully and receive the utmost support.
Cultivating a community of readers is a significant part of what I and all teachers do at the College; we are huge believers in the power of words and stories.
The Berners Review is a bi-weekly newsletter covering all things library and learning and was an idea I had when I first joined the College. I had created digital content and blogs in previous jobs and was keen to bring that experience into the role as a way to spark a bit of buzz around books and education, more generally.
Selfishly, it’s also an opportunity to be creative and I have a lot of fun in the process. I like to involve pupils as much as I can by way of book reviews and recommendations, for example, because ultimately, they have the most influence on the reading habits of their peers.
It would be fantastic if we could encourage the pupils to think more closely about their academic interests and goals. It’s important to find what really makes you tick. I believe the Sixth Form Academic Hub and bi-termly Scholars’ Talks go a long way in introducing the pupils to new areas of research.
For example, earlier this week, Thom Salisbury delivered a session on the Philosophy of Love to our Sixth Formers, and, in late March, local historian John Bridges will deliver a talk about Framlingham in war time and academic publishing. If any parents would be interested in speaking about their academic interests and research to our pupils, please do get in touch!
Looking toward next half term and beyond, I have plans to become more active in tutor groups. This way, I can get to know more pupils on a personal level and as a result more effectively support their academic interests and reading habits.
I also hope to plan some exciting events for the later stages of the year which will adequately celebrate culture, reading, and scholarship – perhaps an arts & literary festival!
Given my appointment in September 2021 on a fixed one-year contract, the College will soon advertise for a fresh graduate to step into the role and make it his/her own.
I will be sad to leave but it will shortly be time to move onto my next academic challenge, and this decision was only made possible through my work as Graduate Scholar which has truly reignited my personal love for learning.