Matt, Schools Assistant, UK

Matt’s UK adventure

Beach volleyball in the UK

Hi everyone, my name is Matt and I am currently a Lattitude volunteer in the United Kingdom, more precisely in North Yorkshire. I am volunteering as a Schools/Sports Assistant at a Grammar School for kids between the ages of 12-18. I am currently helping run school sports such as football, hockey, basketball, rock climbing, swimming, table tennis, badminton and gymnastics. I also help out in the boy’s boarding house.

Recently I had a girl’s rock climbing class and there was a girl who made it half way up the wall, though I wouldn’t let her come down until she made it to the top. I can say there were many persuasive words used, and finally she continued up the wall, with a subtle nudge of help from me pulling her up a little on the rope. Once she made it up and came down, she spent the rest of the lesson staring up at the top of the wall, still shocked that she made it up there. It was one of the best feelings just watching her face and how happy she was to make it to the top of that wall.

The work here is really rewarding, especially when you have kids who wouldn’t normally join in on classes because they don’t feel capable. It’s great to include them and they always end up having fun. Of course there has to be a great deal of authority when running sports classes, mainly because kids go crazy when they see a ball. Though I devised plans in all my classes, I always go to the sports hall a few minutes early to hide all the footballs.

Umpiring a game of cricket

Then in swimming I told the kids that if they were to slap their pool noodles on the water I would take them off them and make them swim the rest of the time with a heavy brick. Of course I probably wouldn’t, but no one dared to slap the water that lesson, especially when I was standing there telling them what to do whilst throwing the brick up and down!

After the school day finishes, I help around the boarding house. I supervise the boys, help with activities and sometimes go out into the city to watch a movie. One of my favourite duties is to make sure the boys are asleep. I have made a bit of a game out of it and trick the boys into thinking I have gone to bed myself, when really I am still in the corridor. I wait until the boys start talking again and scare them. They have learnt to go to sleep quite quickly when it’s Wednesday!

Although it seems I do a great amount of work, I do have a good amount of time off too. The school has given me some free periods throughout each day and I can always find something to do. Sometimes I go for walks outside the school or head to the music block where one of the teachers helps me learn the piano. I have every weekend off, except for every second Saturday where I supervise the boys in the boarding house for a few hours.

Exploring in my spare time

For the boarders who live at the school full-time, we try to organise fun things to do on the weekends. We have now built up their expectations and whilst we haven’t failed yet, we continually have to find more activities. Some of the things that we have done include ice skating, movie nights and concerts. These boarding excursions are great fun and the kids really get the chance to enjoy themselves. Class excursions are also great fun and one of them even involved going to France! This was quite a culture shock for me as we aren’t able to do that back home. They just ‘casually’ have excursions to other countries because they are so close!

Ice skating fun

Outside of my placement I have joined the Rock-it Ball league. It is surprising to think that I have only been here for just under two months and achieved so much in so little time. Can’t wait to see what I can do in the next few months!

Submitted by: Matt Hill