Durham International Nursery Nairobi took part in the International Schools and Education Fair (ISEF) at The Hub this weekend. It was an exciting few days, providing us with an opportunity to meet prospective parents, and indeed their children, and so share with them what makes Durham International Nursery so special as they start to consider the next school year.
With the fair featuring international schools for students of all ages, we were delighted to have so many parents stop by to talk about our forthcoming nursery. Set to open in September of this year, the Nursery will mark the first time a British school has opened a branch in Kenya. Durham School is one of the oldest schools in the UK, with a record of outstanding education built over more than 600 years.
Nicolas Millen OBE, Durham School’s Director of International Operations, and Ann Champion, having been Head of Early Years at Durham School and now EYFS Director for Durham International Nursery Nairobi, flew in from the UK for the occasion. As Nick mentioned to several of the parents who stopped by to learn more about Durham, events like ISEF are an excellent way for parents to learn more about their options.
“I’ve spoken to as many parents coming through as I can,” he said. “First of all, I would say to them, ‘You need to find the right school for your child; you shouldn’t just look at one school and make a decision, but rather seek to understand what different schools offer and how this matches what you want for your child”.
Parents at ISEF learned that the Nursery has a lot to offer, with a beautiful, green location in Thigiri and exciting facilities that will support an indoor-outdoor learning environment. The Nursery will have an on-site swimming pool, an art workshop, a dance studio, a music studio and an IT Lab, as well as, of course, fabulous classrooms bespoke for the requirements of early years education. Our curriculum is built around the Early Years Foundation Stages (EYFS) framework, but also incorporates the best parts of other pedagogies as well.
While Durham International Schools is new to Nairobi, Nick said he wants parents to feel confident that the Nursery complements that of the early years programme at Durham School UK.
“It’s a new school, but it has got Durham behind it,” he said. “We have been heavily engaged in the work thus far, and we will continue to be heavily engaged in what’s happening. So yes, it’s a new school, but it’s got someone holding its hand from the beginning, and even as it grows its own identity moving onwards.”
When asked if the Nursery was a stand-alone project, Brijesh Bakhda, Director of Durham International Schools, explained,
“Whilst the initial focus is indeed the Nursery, our longer-term ambition is to open a full school, the timings for which will be confirmed in due course, however, intent is to facilitate smooth transition onwards from the Nursery.”
Ann Champion, Head of Early Years at Durham School, was in high demand at the fair – particularly with the younger crowd! While parents engaged with our team and asked questions about the school, children got a first hand experience of what makes Durham’s early years approach so special. Whether colouring, putting together puzzles or building block towers, the children who visited Durham’s stand had a great time with Ann, quickly becoming comfortable and confident in their play.
Ann set up the early years programme at Durham School nearly 30 years ago, and so brings with her, in her role as EYFS Director, a wealth of experience of early years education.
“We’re so excited, in the UK, to be involved,” Ann told us. “We’re here for the team in Nairobi, to support them and to make sure that across both schools our values, our ethos, our curriculum are the same such that Durham School in the UK and Durham International Nursery here in Nairobi are in effect a single institution.”
Ann and Nick both stressed the importance of early years education, noting that it’s important for children to start their educational journey on the right footing. The unofficial motto of Durham School is ‘Confidence for Life,’ and that starts right from the beginning. Through our Creative Curriculum, children learn through play, but embedded throughout every activity are efforts to build confidence.
“Our approach,” Nick said, “makes it so that children enjoy school, feel safe and learn to love learning.”