Playgroup – Ages 2 to 3

Playgroup is your child’s first introduction to formal school, and the beginning of their Durham educational journey. It is a precious time of exploring the world around them, making friends and becoming more independent. Our Playgroup classrooms are bright, lively and welcoming environments, with well-qualified staff ready to greet and support your child on arrival.

Social interactions form the basis of children’s learning in Playgroup and children receive nurturing support as they develop new friendships and interact with peers and adults. Teachers encourage children to expand their developing confidence and skills through play, movement, dancing, singing, acting, role playing and stories. Children engage in a variety of activities, to ‘have a go,’ and test out new ideas.

Focused play areas and activities target a specific skill development, like role play to encourage talk and communication, crafts to build fine motor skills, and pattern building to lay the foundations for mathematics.

The Playgroup classrooms provide a rich literary environment, with books, story-telling, singing songs, and reciting rhymes to ignite early reading skills. Children have free access to paint, chalk, sand, and water play, and the use of a variety of malleable materials, such as clay, corn flour, wet soil and sloppy sand, which engages them in exciting tactile and sensory experiences that are paramount in their early development.

Foundation Stage 1 – Ages 3 to 4

FS1 is an exciting year at Durham Kenya, where we emphasise exploratory self-directed learning rooted in meaningful play. Students in FS1 have the time and space to explore, to investigate, question, collaborate and play out all the experiences that underpin lifelong learning. Children in FS1, learn actively through multi-sensory play, and fun activities that introduce academic instruction.

Children enjoy role-play, where they are encouraged to extend their imagination, make believe, and create stories together. They develop their understanding of basic literacy skills and take part in early reading immersed in the sounds and experiences of stories or quietly enjoying the book corner, both independently and with friends. Teachers give children plenty of opportunities to use their emerging reading and writing skills in meaningful ways, like the provision of menus, recipes, note paper and pencils in an outdoor restaurant.

Students also enjoy both group activities and free play with a range of construction toys, drawing and craft materials, and puzzles. Teaching staff encourage them to explore numbers in creative ways, and introduce them to scientific concepts with activities based around discovery. FS1 classes regularly move to outside learning areas to experiment and play with water and sand. Children are in constant interaction with their environment, manipulating objects, making predictions and asking questions.

Foundation Stage 2 – Ages 4 to 5

Children arrive in FS2 eager to take on the increased challenges of specific, content-led areas of our wider curriculum. Our teachers create structured activities, ensuring that FS2 is a vibrant and stimulating environment that challenges and engages each child. Learning to read and write, and mathematics are key elements of the FS2 curriculum, which builds on the rich early literacy and mathematical reasoning experiences of FS1. Teaching occurs through a balance of whole-class interactive teaching, small-group activities, partner work and play.

Reading and writing are taught through a systematic and structured approach, building children’s phonic knowledge and skills explicitly, and teaching spelling and handwriting directly. Spoken language, vocabulary development and listening comprehension are embedded into all aspects of their work.

We use a range of practical applications to encourage children’s understanding and fluency in counting, numbers, quantities, comparisons and problem solving. These hands-on activities help students develop mathematical understanding, and deepen children’s core understanding of the reasoning behind the concept they are learning about.

Through scientific investigation, children in FS2 explore and experiment. Teachers encourage inquiry, spurring children to ask why things happen and how they work, as well as what they think will happen next.

Prep School: Key Stage 1 Ages 5 to 7

At the end of the Early Years foundation Stage, pupils move seamlessly into Key Stage One (KS1) which comprises Year 1 and Year 2. Key Stage 1 is a two-year phase, covering the 5 to 7 years age range.

A more formal approach to lessons begins in Key Stage 1, although a lot of the learning is still taught through play, especially in Year 1. Building on the child-centred foundations set in the Pre-Prep years, the journey through Key Stage 1 at Durham is a time of nurturing individuality, of opening young minds to endless possibilities, and of encouraging pupils to think creatively and form their own ideas – all while having fun. Our core values of honesty, perseverance, respect and kindness, together with a strong sense of community across the Pre-Prep and Prep School years, is at the heart of a Durham Kenya education, ensuring continuity and consistency across all areas of learning and development.

We believe that it is essential that children have a good grounding in the basics and we will concentrate on the teaching of reading, including a daily phonics programme, developing writing skills and vocabulary and increasing familiarity and confidence with numbers.

Prep School: Key Stage 2 Ages 7 to 11

Key Stage Two (KS2), is a four-year phase covering the 7 to 11 years age range.

Key Stage 2 purposefully focuses on equipping all pupils with a breadth of knowledge and experience to engage them, foster their strengths and to challenge each individual to be the very best that they can be. Learning becomes more formal and initiative, curiosity and risk-taking are encouraged as students become more independent and take greater responsibility for their words and actions.