After many months of planning and preparation, Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School welcomed its first students on Tuesday January 12, 2021. The School, located in Nairobi’s green Thigiri neighbourhood, has been home to bustling activity throughout 2020 – with builders completing a full redesign and refurbishment of the buildings, then teachers and staff preparing the classrooms and activity spaces. On Tuesday, the young students learning and playing proved to be the finishing touch in making this new school complete and bringing it to life.
Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School is an exciting addition to Nairobi’s educational community and sets the foundation for Durham’s wider ambitions to establish a full Primary School and a Secondary School in Kenya. The School provides a bespoke curriculum for students aged 2 to 6 years based on the UK’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework and the British National Curriculum Key Stage 1 programme of study, whilst drawing on a wide range of early years pedagogies designed to develop the ‘whole child’. The school’s offering is tailored to Kenya and takes inspiration from Nairobi in creating its own identity within the Durham International family of schools.
Established in 1414, Durham School UK enjoys a longstanding reputation of educational excellence and is a member of the HMC, a professional Association of heads of the world’s leading independent schools. The launch of Durham Kenya marks the first time a British school has opened a branch in East Africa.
“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 Mr Kieran McLaughlin, Headmaster at Durham School. “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.”
Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School aims to establish a reputation as the best possible place for children to begin their educational journey in Nairobi.
“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” said Mrs Ann Champion, EYFS Director at Durham International Nursery and Pre-Prep School, who previously lead the Early Years provision at Durham School UK for 26 years.
Durham Kenya has created a safe and nurturing environment where children will develop a love of lifelong learning and ‘Confidence for Life’.
“At Durham, how children learn is as important to us as what they learn,” said Mrs Sue Small, Headteacher at Durham International Nursery & Pre-School. “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.”
As a brand new school, learning and activity spaces have been designed to work with Durham’s innovative curriculum. Classrooms feature flexible learning areas, and students can freely flow between them. Learning extends to the outdoors, taking advantage of the spacious grounds and beautiful green location in Thigiri, just a stone’s throw from Karura Forest.
On Tuesday, children enjoyed this open design, moving between different activity stations in their classrooms and outdoor play areas. Children enjoyed singing, dancing, painting, colouring, rolling playdough, piecing together puzzles, hearing interactive stories, making friendship bracelets, swinging, sliding and more! In addition to its classrooms, the School offers a dedicated art room, music room, and a drama and dance studio, enabling a combination of traditional academic rigor with innovative approaches to learning through a broad and balanced curriculum.
“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!”
Opening a new school presents a range of challenges at any time, but those challenge have only been enhanced in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Durham Kenya team has put in place all of the Health and Safety Guidelines and Protocols from the Kenyan Ministry of Education, and benefits from the recommendations and experience of its sister school in the UK.