Moving to a British School: A Life-Changing Experience

Nata e cresciuta in Italia da madre inglese e padre italiano, lo scorso anno Rebecca Beoni ha studiato in Inghilterra. La sua esperienza personale ci offre una preziosa visione delle differenze tra il sistema scolastico italiano e quello britannico.

Rebecca Beoni

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Moving to a  British School
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Growing up in Italy, I never really liked school. I struggled in the competitive atmosphere. Being a bilingual student I knew that I wasn’t fully taking advantage of my abilities and my opportunities, so I decided to move to the UK and start over. Although I am half-British, I had to face a lot of challenges

a difficult start

I joined Yateley Sixth Form College in Hampshire. In the sixth form, the last two years of secondary school, the British system allows you to choose three or four subjects and study them in depth, to advanced , or A-level, so I chose Drama, Spanish, Sociology and Italian. I liked this idea because I could concentrate on the subjects I liked best

However, the first months weren’t easy. I hadn’t considered Italian and British culture to be particularly different and yet my new schoolmates often treated me like an outsider. Yateley is a small town and I reminded myself that these students had been together for many years and it wasn't easy for them to accept someone new into the group.

a compliment?

Even some of the teachers treated me as different. They frequently said things like “Even the Italian understood that” or “The Italian did better than the rest of you.” This was supposed to be a compliment, but it made me feel isolated and it influenced the students to treat me differently. 

foreign accents

There does seem to be an underlying racism in British society which I had never previously experienced. Every day I noticed it more and more, especially revolving around my Pakistani friend, who started at the same time as me. Sometimes schoolmates talked in a mocking Asian accent in front of her, apparently without realizing they were doing it. 

motivated teachers

Fortunately, my Sociology teacher, who is a great advocate for equality, and my ‘Head of Year’ have been very active in trying to solve these issues. When I talked to them about my problems they listened to me carefully and were anxious to do something about the situation.

As the months went by I began to really enjoy my lessons. My teachers are very dedicated and seem to love what they teach. Back in Italy it was mostly reading pages in class and memorising about twenty of them for a test the day after. Italian teachers seemed to detest their job while here they’re more enthusiastic and helpful. One of my theories is that teachers are paid better in the UK and they receive a lot more teacher training, so they’re more motivated. They get to know students really well and are always available to help when they’re needed. 

great people

I’ve met some lovely people here who have helped me get through the tough times in this school and have made everything worth it. One of them is my friend Caitlin, who also happens to be head girl. She has always pointed me in the right direction and has done her best to help me fit in

the right decision

It really has been a struggle, but there are so many more opportunities for students and ways of finding help, that, together with my marks which are no longer mediocre, I’ve come to the conclusion that this really was the right decision to make.

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