Our Unique Approach to Learning

Every child deserves the best possible start as they begin their educational journey, and our Creative Curriculum delivers an education that is engaging, challenging, motivating and fun.

At Durham, how students learn is as important as what they learn. We recognise that not all children grow and develop at the same pace or in the same way. Our child-centred approach celebrates the individual talents, readiness and personalities of every student. With low student to educator ratios and warm, positive relationships, teachers use varying approaches to personalise learning for individuals. Through child-initiated activities, students are able to engage with academic topics through their unique interests, and our teacher-led lessons provide them with active learning opportunities that challenge students in fun, interesting ways.

Whilst we maintain an academic focus in all of our learning, Durham Kenya is also committed to instilling strong values and life skills that will benefit children as they progress in their education. Students in the Pre-Prep and Prep School years are not only discovering foundational academic topics, they are learning how to learn. We are committed to giving them the skills they need to thrive in an educational environment.

Durham fosters a culture of perseverance in the face of challenge and new possibilities, nurturing resilience, self-esteem, respect for others and a sense of social responsibility.

Innovative and enthusiastic teachers are at the heart of our learning community, providing the framework for students’ educational, cultural and social development. Our teachers and support staff take a close interest in all children’s pastoral welfare, fostering a sense of belonging and self-confidence.

Learning through Play

In the early years, play is the foundation of development and learning. Play fosters social interaction. It ignites creativity and imaginative thinking and provides the opportunity for children to transform their emerging knowledge and understanding into active, concrete experiences. Through purposeful play, children explore and discover, create and problem solve, question and find answers, work together and individually, develop physical and perceptual skills.

At Durham, children participate in a wide variety of indoor and outdoor experiences that foster learning while having fun. An abundance of choice is on offer in our classrooms which allow free flow between learning zones to encourage children to lead their own learning, enabling self-expression and personal interests to develop.

Our Creative Curriculum

At Durham Kenya students explore and discover, create and innovate, question and problem solve, work together and individually as they focus on big ideas and their passions. Through play and project based hands-on experiences which foster social interaction and ignite creativity and imaginative thinking, students become independent, self-confident, inquisitive and enthusiastic learners.

Our experienced teaching team caters to the needs and interests of every child through a range of learning opportunities designed to be enjoyable, engaging, challenging and motivating. Inviting indoor and outdoor spaces allow for a free-flow of movement, and provide varied environments for self-initiated activities, guided lessons, and small and large group interactions.

Durham educators closely monitor each child’s progress at every stage of learning, and celebrate and value their successes. Teachers continuously assess children both in their everyday activities and play, and in their more focused work. This allows us to support, stretch and challenge our children as individuals.

Through active learning, purposeful play, creativity and critical thinking, our students grow into lifelong learners equipped for a diverse and changing world.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Children entering Durham Kenya in Playgroup, Foundation Stage 1 (FS1) and Foundation Stage 2 (FS2) follow the Early Years Foundation (EYFS) Framework, a UK Early Years programme based on a practical, hands-on approach. Children are guided through seven interconnected Areas of Learning and Development:

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Children develop a positive sense of themselves and others; form positive relationships and develop respect for others; develop social skills and a readiness to learn including perseverance and resilience, and the ability to work co-operatively as well as independently.

Communication and Language: Children are provided with a rich language environment to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations.

Physical Development: Children are active throughout the day to develop gross and fine motor skills, coordination, balance, stability and control in their movement.

Literacy: The foundations of literacy are incorporated into every aspect of the daily routine to support emerging reading and writing skills. This includes developing spoken language and vocabulary, knowledge of print, alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, linking sounds to letters, active engagement in stories and developing a love of reading.

Mathematics: Throughout the day, children actively engage with mathematical concepts and operations through play and hands-on activities, developing early mathematical reasoning, understanding and skills.

Understanding the World: Children’s natural curiosity is encouraged as they make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places and the environment.

Expressive Arts and Design: Children’s creativity is fostered through exploring, trying out new things and sharing their ideas through a variety of activities in art, design, music, movement, dance and role-play.

Year 1 and 2 Curriculum

English is a central feature of everyday lessons and involves building on phonics and reading skills as well as developing comprehension and understanding of texts to support all areas of the curriculum.  Children in Year 1 and 2 gain skills to write in a variety of different genres such as story writing, poetry, letters, information texts and diary extracts; and spelling, punctuation and grammar are consolidated across all areas of work.  

Mathematics is a key feature across the curriculum at Durham Pre-Prep School.  Children work with manipulatives and real life situations to develop mathematical reasoning, conceptual understanding and fluency in counting, number, place value and operations. Children begin to apply mathematical reasoning to solve problems and make estimates, and they develop their understanding of shape, space and measure.

Science in Key Stage 1 involves developing scientific knowledge and scientific thinking by providing opportunities for children to explore and investigate the world around them through observation, data collection, analysis, questioning, interpreting evidence, classification and developing vocabulary to explain and give reasons for their findings.  Science topics in Years 1 and 2 include: Materials, Animals, The Human Body, Habitats, Electricity, Changing State and Plants.

Geography involves developing locational knowledge, place knowledge, human and physical geography and beginning to use geography skills like mapping. The school is located next to Karura Forest which provides a natural treasure trove of places and features to explore.

History involves researching different time periods and ways of living.  Children, explore both their local environment and the wider world around them. Topics draw upon different cultures, allowing the children to understand that people have different beliefs, customs and traditions, encouraging understanding and tolerance of other people and their environments.

Co-curricular

Durham Kenya offers a world-class education that combines traditional academic rigor with innovative approaches to learning through a broad and balanced curriculum. We understand the value of offering children a rich and varied school experience, and co-curricular learning is an important part of every school day at Durham Kenya.

By introducing children to a wide range of exciting activities, we give them the opportunity to try new things and find new interests. Students are challenged to think creatively and develop new skills, giving them the opportunity to succeed and build confidence in their abilities.

Physical Development and PE

Physical development and movement are integral to learning. Children have fun as they develop balance, stability and co-ordination. Children at Durham enjoy football, gymnastics, karate and ball skills, a student-favourite activity that builds the foundations for sports like football, tennis, basketball, netball, hockey and cricket.

Swimming

Durham Kenya is thrilled to offer our students swimming lessons in our very own heated pool! This bespoke facility was designed and custom built for children learning to swim, offering child-friendly features, like deck-level sides and wide entry steps, that make it the perfect place to learn this invaluable life skill. Durham Kenya offers students a world-class swim programme, both during and after school.

Art & Design

Through exciting art activities, children develop both their talent as artists and their appreciation for art in the world around them. Students gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to experiment and invent, increasing their sense of achievement and self confidence.

Music

Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. At Durham Kenya, our music classes engage children, inspiring them to perform, listen to and enjoy music across a range of genres, styles and traditions.

Dance

Through dance, children are challenged to develop their physical skills, practice coordinated movement, remember routines and work together with their class peers, all while being active and having fun. We also offer ballet lessons during the school day, laying the foundations for students who are passionate about dance!

Drama

Drama provides children with endless opportunities to express themselves creatively and gain confidence in their own performance. Students enjoy role playing and drama activities in their class as well as the opportunity to explore a more dedicated approach with the Helen O’Grady Speech and Drama Academy, which offers a curriculum built around creative communication.

Continuous Assessment

Children’s ongoing learning and development is documented in EYFS using an online learning journal. Parents can access this online journal through the website or download the app to their phone or tablet to see written comments and photos from class teachers of their child’s learning throughout the week. Parents will find ‘next steps’ to support their child at home and they too can share photos and videos of the activities their child takes part in after school and during the weekend.

From Year 1 upwards, teachers are continuously assessing each child’s learning, development and understanding. Teachers use the feedback they get from this ongoing assessment to plan the next steps for every child.

Pastoral Care

At Durham Kenya our number one priority is the wellbeing and happiness of every child. We welcome a diverse community of children from around the world with a range of cultural, and educational backgrounds, languages, talents and abilities.

There is a strong and supportive pastoral framework running through the school. Class teachers and teacher assistants take a close interest in the children’s pastoral welfare fostering a sense of belonging and self-confidence through warm positive relationships, providing the best possible start in life for children to fulfil their potential.

Wellbeing Curriculum

The early years is a time for developing an awareness of self and others and making new friends. We aim to prepare children to not only achieve academically but to be equipped for a diverse and changing world and have the skills they need to be confident, resilient and ambitious young people. Children are supported in developing social skills like respecting others, being kind and helpful, friendship and caring. Our bespoke curriculum develops the ‘whole child’, with a focus on mindfulness and the teaching of our core values – Moral Integrity, Ambition, Respect and Kindness. This is the MARK of a Durham School education.

The School has created a bespoke curriculum, which incorporates the key elements a child needs to be aware of if they are to understand their emotional wellbeing (under the acronym SCHOOL) :

Strive for a growth mindset (S)
Children are taught about the importance of looking after their wellbeing by encouraging a growth mindset. Children are encouraged to have the confidence to persevere and taught that making mistakes is nothing to be frightened of, but something to learn from.

Choose to aim high and don’t give up (C)
Children are made aware of how a change in their mindset can lead to success. Children are taught the importance of resilience i.e. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, setbacks, disappointment and change – all life experiences that the children will encounter as they develop into young people.

Help yourself and others (H)
Children are taught to be kind to each other and be empathetic to each other’s feelings. They are taught to recognise how their friends are feeling and how they can support each other. It is difficult to overstate just how important kindness and empathy are in life.

Only one you (O)
Children are taught to recognise just how special they are and that each and every one of them is unique. The aim of this is to improve self-esteem, self-respect and self-worth – which all play a fundamental role in a child’s motivational levels and success throughout life.

Own and understand your feelings (O)
Children are taught how they can take responsibility for their emotional wellbeing. They are taught strategies and techniques to regulate their emotions such as mindful breathing, movement and self-awareness.

Let’s reflect (L)
Children are encouraged to discuss what they have been taught and reflect on how it has impacted their lives. Our school staff work closely with the pupils to ensure that they have a secure understanding of all that they have covered and the concepts taught.