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The First Day of School at Durham Kenya

Sliding is fun, but sliding with friends is even better! On our first day of school, our young students lit up the classrooms and learning spaces with bright smiles and delighted laughter, particularly when playing on the grounds. Taking turns on our swings and slide, these little ones became fast friends and had a wonderful time getting to know their teachers and classmates.

This was both the first day at school for many of our students, and our first day of school at Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School. Opening a new school presents a range of challenges at any time, and those challenge were only enhanced in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been looking forward to January 2021 for a long time, and our entire Durham Kenya team is so thrilled to welcome students, creating a space – with health and safety measures in place – where they can socialise and make new friends.

Throughout the planning and preparation process for the school, we knew that it would be a special place. It is very exciting to see Durham Kenya come to life with the sights and sounds of children learning and playing.

Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School is unique within Kenya – and East Africa as a whole – for being the first branch of a British school to open in the region.  Durham School is a renowned independent school in the United Kingdom, with a 600-year legacy of educational excellence. The school combines traditional academic rigor with modern educational approaches, instilling in students the values, skills and knowledge they need to develop ‘Confidence for Life.’

“The opening of Durham International Nursery and Pre-Prep School in Nairobi is an important, indeed exciting, milestone for those of us here in Durham School,” said Durham School Headmaster Kieran McLaughlin in a welcome message for Durham Kenya parents. “We have been committed to and involved with the project from its inception, and now look forward to building a strong relationship with the entire Durham Kenya School Community.”

Our sister school has already proved to be an invaluable resource, with the opportunity for our teaching staff to exchange ideas and approaches. Durham Kenya has put in place all of the Health and Safety Guidelines and Protocols from the Kenyan Ministry of Education, and also benefits from the recommendations and experience of our sister school in the UK.

“It has been a such a privilege to witness the transformation of a ‘blank canvas’ into a beautiful piece of art affectionately known as Durham Kenya,” said Ann Champion, our EYFS Director, in her welcome message to parents. “I was told as a student do not judge a school by your eyes but by your heart, and my heart is certainly with Durham School and its sister school Durham Kenya.”

Ann, who led the Early Years provision at Durham School UK for 26 years, provided valuable advice during the planning and construction phase of the project, which saw the complete redesign and refurbishment of our school buildings. What was then a vision is now reality, with beautiful open classrooms and activity areas, along with plenty of outdoor space for learning and play. This innovative design, together with our child-centred Creative Curriculum, has really excited both our teachers and parents, and now our students on their first day.

“At Durham, how children learn is as important to us as what they learn,” said Headteacher Sue Small. “Our Creative Curriculum focuses on igniting children’s enthusiasm through investigation, discovery, play and creativity. We help our students grow into happy and confident individuals, with the skills required to be independent learners who can embrace the opportunities and possibilities of an ever-changing world.”

On our first day, students in Playgroup were able to move between activities like painting, puzzles, construction with blocks, an outdoor sand station, story time, playdough and more, with our teaching staff on hand at every turn to incorporate educational concepts. Learning through play, our youngest students are already building the foundations for their future academic development.

In Foundation Stage 1 students had fun with a mix of individual and group activities. Some children jumped right in with fancy dress while others had fun with role playing. Everyone enjoyed interactive story time, with a special book about the first day of school, and got to make a friendship bracelet with the names of their new classmates.

Our Foundation Stage 2 students delighted in a range of fun, educational activities, and had the special treat of a guitar lead singalong in our music room.

The first day of school is always a little scary for some students, as they say goodbye to Mum and Dad for a few hours. Our first day was no different, but the fun of saying hello to new friends and teachers quickly got students excited about school.

“We are loving Durham,” said Durham Kenya parent Joana Scussel. “We visited a couple of schools and we chose Durham because the school is very nice and very organised and Sue was very welcoming and supportive. [Our son] is loving it – I was worried about him adapting because it’s his first time at school and he’s 2 years old. It’s our first day, but the teachers have been amazing and he’s already feeling at home!”

Thank you to all of our Founding Families and the entire Durham Kenya community! The opening of Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School is an important milestone in this exciting journey, which we look forward to continuing with you.

For those we haven’t met yet, enrollment is still open and we would love to show you the school and introduce you to our team. You can make an appointment to visit us here – we look forward to hearing from you!

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