Blog December 5, 2017 by St Giles

Q&A with Jessie Goldup, Principal of St Giles Cambridge

You may already have heard our exciting news that we will be opening a new school in Cambridge in January 2018. You can read more about the school here.

We are pleased to introduce you to Jessie Goldup, the Principal of St Giles Cambridge. We sat down for a short Q&A session with Jessie to get to know her a bit better…

Q: Congratulations on your appointment as Principal of St Giles Cambridge! How have you settled in so far? What were your first impressions of St Giles?

A: Thank you! It is early days, but so far it’s been a great experience. I’ve visited the schools in London, Eastbourne and Brighton and I would say my first impression is that it’s a great network, there’s a wealth of experience and all the schools work closely together to share that experience, and yet there’s enough autonomy so that each school can offer a unique experience and make the most of the environment.

Q:  Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

A: I’ve been interested in learning languages since my first trip abroad in the early 90s. I experienced learning abroad at a language school in 2003, which was a fantastic experience and my first introduction to Spanish. The full immersion is definitely the most effective way to improve. I’ve worked for two other language schools in the UK, but for the last 6 years I’ve been working abroad, in Italy and Egypt. In Egypt, I was working for the British Council, where I opened and ran the most successful of the British Council teaching centres there

Q: What do you think is going to make the Cambridge school special?

A: Cambridge is a very special place, for me it epitomises many great things about England: it’s beautiful, with fabulous university buildings and great architecture around the centre; the university has a huge presence in terms of the liveliness of the city, students and architecture; people are friendly and interested in living well; there are so many green spaces to walk through and relax in – overall, it’s a small but lively city with lots going on and you’re never far from the river. With the current refurbishment, the school will look great come January. As the smallest of all our centres, we will be able to give individual attention to our students, so that they feel at home in the centre and the city.

Q: What are you most looking forward to working at St Giles?

A: I’m already enjoying a few aspects: seeing students who have been here for some time speak about how much their language has improved and their hopes for the future, and seeing students mixing during the break times (often over a game of ping-pong). I’m really looking forward to the school growing and having a wide range of nationalities here.

Q: Do you have any suggestions of what future students “must see” or “must do”?

A: My top “must do” would be having cream tea out at Grantchester. It involves a pleasant walk out of the city and along the river, at the end of which you’ll find a large garden with lots of chairs and tables, along with some deck chairs by the river, and there you can enjoy the quintessential English afternoon snack – a pot of tea and a scone with jam and cream – delicious! The “must see” is very easily achieved, in going for a walk around the town centre you can take in all the top sights: from Kings College to the market, bridges across the river, people punting and the medieval Round Church.

Q: What advice do you have for students travelling to Cambridge? What should they expect from their time at St Giles and in Cambridge?

A: Keep a notebook and a pen on you at all times, there will be lots of vocabulary and phrases to note down during your stay, inside and outside of the classroom. Immersive learning can be quite tiring, especially at the beginning, but the excitement of making new friends and being in a new city will keep you going. Get out and about as much as possible – there are so many things to do in and around Cambridge whatever you’re interests. I’ve been here many times before, but I keep being told about hidden gems I’ve never heard of. We’re situated right by the Botanic Gardens, so there’s an easy first stop.  The staff at the school have a wealth of knowledge to guide you to points of interest. With great transport links and proximity to London, it’s also easy to get out beyond the city.