Meet Monsieur Stéphane Cauley ...
Hello Mr Cauley, tell us about yourself at Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School
I'm the Head of French at Sompting Abbotts. I'm also Head of IT and Computing and Year 7 form teacher. I oversee IT provision throughout the school, am administrator of the Google Education suite the school's Chromebooks operate, and I teach Computing through Years 3 to 8. I'm also responsible for staff IT training.
What extra-curricular activities do you get involved with?
I help run the weekly Coding Club with our programming expert Mr Lawrence. Last year I led a trip to Normandy at Chateau de la Baudonnière during which students in Years 5 to 8 enjoyed a week of brilliant French immersion and activities (archery, aeroball, assault course, photography, climbing, visiting French market and Bayeux Tapestry Museum). I'll be supervising the Year 8 Cornwall week-long residential trip this year. I run a Shooting Club at the school's indoor range as a Friday Afternoon Activity for Years 6-8.
Tell us about your career experience
I'm French and have been living in England since 1988, when I got married. In what seems a previous life, I used to work in the French Air Force as a radar specialist. I hold a BA in Modern Languages with Qualified Teacher Status from the University of Brighton (1997). I've taught in primary and secondary schools in the state system, as well as in two prep schools: Norman Court near Salisbury and Pennthorpe in Horsham.
So you've taught in the state and private sectors. How do they differ?
The main difference is numbers really. Now I'm in the private sector, I can do things in the classroom that would be more difficult with larger classes: games, role plays, conversations are so much easier. Of course there's also more freedom in how I can organise and deliver the curriculum.
Where are you from in France?
I come from Bordeaux in the south west of France. I go back two or three times a year because I have a house near a town called Duras, approximately one hour from Bordeaux. The south west is full of ancient market towns called bastides that were built in the medieval period. I love exploring all those places on my motorbike. I miss this old, wild authenticity that they have. I also miss the weather. Of course there is also the Atlantic ocean, which is only a short drive away from home and where I used to hang out as a teenager. I do love living in England though. I like the free spirit and 'can do all' attitude people have. I also like fish and chips and beer! And knowing that one is never too far away from the sea wherever you are. Of course, my family is here now. My children and now... my grandchildren.
How long have you worked at Sompting Abbotts?
I've been teaching at Sompting Abbotts for three years and absolutely love the family atmosphere of the school. The class numbers mean I feel I can really stretch the more able pupils while at the same time support those who find it more challenging.
What do you especially enjoy about teaching at Sompting Abbotts?
I particularly appreciate the fact that though Sompting Abbotts. is a traditional school, it's very progressive too. All the classrooms are Wifi-equipped with technology such as interactive whiteboards, or in my case a 50-inch television linked to my laptop and the internet.
This gives me the opportunity to expose pupils to authentic material and language, introduce vocabulary in an engaging way and organise games to make learning more engaging.
I'm passionate about transferring not just my language but also the French culture, and I will often be talking about a region, a particular town I have lived in. or of course French food! This reflects the varied and rich education which pupils receive at Sompting Abbotts.
What's the big benefit of learning a language?
Did you know that it has been proven that learning another language can make you smarter, improve your decision-making and even keep your brain healthy in old age? Apart from these obvious benefits, isn't it great to learn about other cultures?
I love to teach pupils about French food, local cheeses, how we eat a dozen oysters before a Christmas meal or where foie gras comes from. All of that can open up myriads of opportunities in the employment market too of course. Whether it be in commerce, the armed forces or Science, it's always a plus to be able to interact with local people in their own language. There's an African proverb saying: 'If you want people to understand you, speak their language'.
Tell us something about you we don't know
In my spare time, I'm a motorcyclist. My BMW bike is often parked in the school drive. I like to go on long tours round the UK, France or sometimes Europe. A couple of years ago I went to Graz in Austria, riding solo through France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and Italy. Last year I took my colleague Mr Mac [the school's Head of PE], who also owns a BMW, through France and to my home county of Gironde near Bordeaux. We Instagrammed the trip for the school. I'm also a baritone singer and perform with the choir, plus I enjoy playing the recorder with students at concerts. I enjoy woodcarving too.