Guest editor: Interview with Agnieszka Derleta, Polish teacher at St Thomas More School

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Agnieszka Derleta is a linguist, who specialises in the Polish language and literature and a is member of our community here in Bedford.

She has been teaching Polish at St Thomas More Catholic (STM) school for eight years now, offering Polish as an option of a timetabled lesson at GCSE and A level. This is unusual for schools in the UK as in most cases they only offer Polish as an extra qualification outside of lesson time or leaving students to prepare for it themselves.

Agnieszka goes above and beyond for her students by also running a Polish club during lunch time for years 7-9, preparing them for the examination with the option of not taking it as a timetabled lesson.

GCSE Polish is assessed in four ways (reading, writing, listening, speaking) and revolves around three themes: identity and culture, global-local national international areas of interests and future study and employment.

With the A level course, you go more into more depth with the studies of Polish. Additionally studying Polish literature and film for example: ‘Tango’ and ‘Katyń’.

From personal experience, I’m extremely glad that I had the opportunity to take this course as it enabled me to embrace the Polish culture and my Polish identity, and I’ve learnt new things about it that I hadn’t come across before.

Mikolaj Mackowjak is Bedford Independent’s guest editor, shining a light on the town’s Polish community

This is a subject primarily taken by pupils who are native Polish speakers or have at least one Polish parent or relative within their family.

There are many benefits for Polish pupils to obtain this qualification as it develops their vocabulary of the Polish language, helping them to communicate confidently with native speakers, but most importantly their Polish relatives, especially as sometimes coming to the UK means that pupils begin to forget their native language.

Polish students have done extremely well in these exams as statistics show that around 94% of pupils at GCSE and 90% at A level get grades from A*-C.

“St Thomas More School is like a pioneer setting the way for other schools,” said Agnieszka.

“They should also make Polish available as a timetabled lesson due to the high demands and high numbers of Polish people in the UK particularly in Bedford.”

As a qualified AQA examiner, Agnieszka cooperates with other schools in Bedford to prepare pupils for their examinations.

Beyond this, she is a co-founder of ‘PLCA’ (Polish language culture association), which is a charity organisation Saturday school where pupils expand their knowledge on Polish culture, history, and language.

Agnieszka is a key asset to the Polish community cooperating with the Polish embassy in London to support Polish individuals.

“It is important for Polish pupils to have access to the course as it provides them with that ‘sense of identity’ as well as offering more opportunities for them in the future,” she said.

“It is a qualification that is recognised as a modern foreign language, that can go towards UCAS points for university and job applications.”

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