Get to Know Durham International Schools Nairobi
Durham International Nursery, the first phase of Durham International Schools’ plans for Nairobi, will open this September; a branch of the renowned Durham School, one of the oldest schools in the UK. This is the first time a British school has come to Kenya, and it is an exciting development that is sure to create a lot of interest! The Nursery will combine an innovative, bespoke curriculum with Durham School’s 600-year legacy of outstanding education.
Durham International Schools Nairobi will make its debut at the International Schools and Education Fair (ISEF) this weekend, 29th February to 1st March, at The Hub. Nicolas Millen OBE, Durham School’s Director of International Operations, and Ann Champion, who has been Head of Early Years at Durham School for 26 years and is now EYFS Director for Durham International Nursery Nairobi, will be in town for the event, where they will meet with prospective parents and talk about the new school. Read on for a quick preview, answering some of your top questions about Durham International Schools Nairobi!
1. Durham School has a long legacy and has built an excellent reputation over its 600-year history. What makes the school so unique?
Nicolas Millen (NM): Founded in 1414, Durham School builds on its established legacy by giving our pupils a complete education. Our goal is to imbue in our pupils an aspiration for achievement and a respect for others, to give them the ‘Confidence for Life’ that our unofficial motto espouses! We do this within an overall framework defined by our core values – Moral Integrity, Ambition, Responsibility, and Kindness; all within an environment in which children feel safe, valued and happy.
2. Durham School made its first international foray in September 2019 with Durham School for Girls Doha, in Qatar. What made you settle on Kenya for your second international school and what are your longer-term plans?
NM: Whilst there already are, of course, many international schools in Kenya, our launch marks the first time that a British school has opened a branch in Kenya. We are confident that a school with strong links to the UK – shaped by 600 years of educational experience, but tailored for the market in Kenya – will be an exciting new option for Nairobi parents. Our longer-term plans are for a full primary and secondary school, but our current focus is on creating an exceptional early years experience in Nairobi with Durham International Nursery, which opens in September 2020.
3. How will Durham School UK be involved with the Nursery in Nairobi?
NM: From the project’s inception and through all of its planning, the Nursery has worked in partnership with Durham School in the UK, and it will continue to do so when its doors open to Nairobi’s children. Durham School’s values will shape the day-to-day life here in Nairobi, and so become the Nursery’s own values too. Senior staff as well as classroom teachers in Durham are working alongside those here in Nairobi to ensure that the Nursery has the best possible support whilst at the same time developing its own sense of identity.
4. What is the Nursery’s Creative Curriculum?
Ann Champion (AC): The Creative Curriculum is a carefully planned, thematic approach to teaching and learning designed to support the child’s natural creativity. At the same time it will be rooted in the framework of the Early Years Foundation Stages (EYFS). The Creative Curriculum for Early Years is divided into ‘Themes,’ which build a story through which children will develop personally, socially and emotionally.
Children learn by doing things for themselves, by exploring and investigating, watching and listening, talking and discussing; in other words, ‘playing.’ In nursery we plan for both child-initiated play, where children freely explore; and adult-led play, where the adult has an objective to ‘teach’ and assess. This is always delivered in a fun way!
5. Durham International Schools is launching with the Nursery this September, which will take in students from ages 3 to 6. What makes these early years so crucial?
AC: It is common for people to assume that Early Years education is all about reading, writing and arithmetic. In fact, early child development sets the foundations for lifelong learning, behavior and health. The experiences children have in early childhood shape the brain and child’s capacity to learn, to develop social skills, and to deal with challenges, preparing them for the next stage of their education. Put simply, Early Years education is so important because it is the environment in which children first encounter life at school, an experience that will shape their lifelong approach to learning.
6. What do children need to succeed in these first years at school?
AC: The first year at nursery is mainly learning through play-based activities. Children will be learning about routines and developing social skills as well as fostering friendships. Early literacy is introduced, paving the way for a more structured approach as they move into the next stage of education. It is important at this stage to develop a love of learning, and that fun and learning go hand in hand.
7. What role do parents play in early years education and how will the Nursery work with parents?
AC: Parents are the primary educators for their children; we recognise this and will work closely with parents, discussing your child’s need and any support that they may require. Throughout the year staff will take the time to get to know you and discuss your child’s development and progress. Parents’ evenings, productions and ‘Open Day’ events will be available to allow parents to be part of our ‘family’ at the Nursery.
8. Why is Durham International Nursery the ideal choice for parents and their children?
NM: We will provide an environment in which children can safely push their individual boundaries and in which they can learn social skills that develop lasting and meaningful friendships. The Nursery will teach them to love learning and prepare them for the rest of their schooling. Our location in the beautiful green suburb of Thigiri in Nairobi, as well as our incredible facilities, make the Nursery a stand-out option for early years education in Nairobi. We have ample learning areas, an on-site swimming pool, outdoor activity areas and indoor spaces including an art workshop, dance studio, music studio and an IT Lab. Our curriculum uses an EYFS framework, but with a holistic approach that incorporates the best principles from a variety of educational approaches. The Nursery will be guided by a highly experienced leadership team, with full involvement and oversight from Durham School UK. Furthermore, Durham International Nursery will represent great value for the fee paid. We fully expect that Durham International Nursery will become the first choice for early years education in Nairobi!
9. When do you open and how can we learn more?
NM: Durham International Nursery opens in September 2020. The Nursery will cater to children from ages 3 to 6 years old and has a capacity for 200 children. Parents who are interested in securing a place at the start of the academic year from September 2020 are encouraged to register their interest now through our website, www.durhamkenya.com. We plan to formally begin enrollments from April 2020.