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600-Year-Old Durham School Prepares To Open in Nairobi

Just off Thigiri Ridge, a stone’s throw from Karura Forest, there’s no sound of cars or the bustle of Nairobi life, but there is a buzz of excitement as interested parents get their first preview of Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School.

Opening in January 2021 for children ages 2 to 6, the school recently welcomed guests for the first time, with socially distanced tours on an individual basis. British High Commissioner Jane Marriott OBE visited the school and met with Headteacher Sue Small, as did UK Deputy Trade Commissioner for Africa Rebecca Fisher Lamb and British Chamber of Commerce Kenya CEO Farida Abbas. Durham was proud to host officials from the Kenyan Ministry of Education, as well as Kenya Association for International Schools Secretariat Coordinator Jane Mwangi.

Of course, some of the most important guests were prospective parents and the School’s Founding Families, who have already registered their children for the January term. Visiting the spacious, green compound with Headteacher Sue Small, it’s easy to see that the school will offer not only this new building, but an entirely new school experience that is an exciting addition to Nairobi!

Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School marks the first time a British school has opened a branch in East Africa, and Durham Kenya has wider ambitions to grow into a full Primary School and a Secondary School.

Dating back to 1414, Durham School is one of the oldest and most respected private schools in the UK and is a member of the HMC, a professional Association of heads of the world’s leading independent schools. It boasts a long legacy of educational excellence, but the school’s ethos is anything but old-fashioned.

The school’s first international foray, Durham School for Girls Doha, opened very successfully in Qatar in 2019, and now the Durham International Family is set to expand again. Durham Kenya aims to establish a reputation as the best possible place for children to begin their educational journey in Nairobi. Giving children a positive first experience of school, they encourage students to develop a love of lifelong learning and ‘Confidence for Life’.

Ann Champion, who served as Head of Early Years at Durham School for 26 years and is now Early Years Foundation Stages (EYFS) Director for Durham Kenya, described the school’s unique approach. “Our number one priority is the wellbeing and happiness of the child. We take great pride in our Creative Curriculum, which is based on the EYFS framework. Children will learn by exploring and investigating, watching and listening, talking and discussing.”

Durham will offer a world-class educational experience designed for Kenyan and expatriate families who want their children to both achieve academically and grow into confident, resilient and ambitious young people, Ann explained. The international school is very much tailored to its Nairobi home, but benefits from the ties and resources of the Durham International Family.

Teachers and staff share their experience across all three schools. In one key and timely example, Durham International has crucial insights to share about safety measures related to COVID-19. While Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School opens in January 2021, both the Qatar and UK schools will be opening for the new academic year from September, and their experience will help guide the Durham Kenya safety procedures.

The Durham International team stresses that this exchange of ideas between schools runs in all directions. Durham Kenya’s talented and creative educators will share their particular expertise not only with their fellow Kenyan teachers, but with Durham educators in the UK and Qatar.

“From the project’s inception and planning, the school 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,” said Nicolas Millen OBE, Durham School’s Director of International Operations. “Senior staff as well as classroom teachers in Durham are working alongside those here in Nairobi to ensure that the school has the best possible support whilst at the same time developing its own sense of identity.”

Headteacher Sue Small lights up while showing parents the school’s classrooms and learning spaces. Sue boasts a wealth of international education experience, including nearly a decade working in premium international schools in Nairobi, and her excitement at the unique Durham Kenya approach is palpable.

Because Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School is brand new, the team behind the school has been able to design it to work with their innovative curriculum. Building a strong sense of community between pupils, parents and staff, the school offers a safe and nurturing environment. Classrooms feature flexible learning areas, and students can freely flow between them. Teachers will move students between indoor and outdoor learning spaces throughout the school day, taking advantage of the beautiful green location.

“We’re tapping into each child’s natural instincts and curiosity by providing open-ended, hands-on experiences,” Sue explained. “We’re motivating children to build on their own interests and explore different ways of doing things.”

Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School gives young students the opportunity to have fun while they discover their passions and talents. The school offers an art room, a music room, a drama and dance studio, and an IT suite. Children will love the heated swimming pool, and have fun playing and developing their skills on the football pitch and ball skills court.

Here, education is built around active learning and purposeful play, which allows children to make choices, explore and problem solve. When children have well-planned opportunities to lead their own learning, Sue explains, they develop their personal interests and enjoy and engage with their education.

“We’re making school fun! We want children to be able to innovate, to create, to problem solve – to feel confident enough to act,” Sue said. “We’ve had a lot of interest in the school, from parents who know that it will be an exciting place for their children to learn!”

Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School on their website at www.durhamkenya.com, or contact them to make an appointment to see the school at info@durhamkenya.com!

Read it on MomBoss

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