As part of International Women's Day on 8th March, we're celebrating some of the inspirational women working across The Active Learning Trust.

Viviana Lagos – Support Assistant, Red Oak Primary School

Viviana joined the team at Red Oak in 2017 when she saw that the school was recruiting a Support Assistant to work with children who speak English as an additional language (EAL). Having been born in Chile with Spanish as her first language, and with a background in education, Viviana was inspired to take the role.

“I know in my heart what the children I work with need. I understand from my own experience that adjusting to a new culture and language can be a struggle. It is my passion to help them with English and also give them pride in their own language. I also try to understand the children’s wider culture and their backgrounds because I know how important that is”.

Throughout her time in her role, Viviana has seen how positively the children she works with respond to her. “They know English is an additional language for me too, so they can see themselves in me and they know I can relate to them. I think this brings us closer together”. Being able to use her own background and experience to help others is something Viviana finds hugely rewarding and she is keen to encourage more women like her to consider taking on similar roles. “This job is great for a working mother like me. It is really rewarding and gives me the opportunity to celebrate my culture and the cultures of others”.

Viviana’s dedicated approach includes always trying to learn some words in each language she supports and producing learning materials in these languages. Languages she has embraced as part of her role include Bulgarian, Polish, Portuguese and the Tetum language of East Timor.
This passion has reached across the school in many different ways. There is now a Spanish language club at lunchtimes, she contributes to relevant topic work with stories of her life in Chile and she has even lead the school in singing Spanish Christmas carols!

“I have so many supportive colleagues who have embraced having me in the team and really value me and my background. It is the same with the children too. When they see me around school they say hola which is lovely!”.

Heather Madsen, Red Oak Primary School’s Executive Headteacher, said “We are so grateful for all Viviana does for the school and especially her support for our children with EAL. She works tirelessly for them and she is always smiling and always happy!”.