Nestled on a green, tree-covered lane right on the edge of Karura Forest, Durham International Nursery
& Pre-Prep School is an entirely new kind of school in Nairobi. Durham Kenya opened in January, and
students have just finished their first term, an exciting milestone for both the children and the school!
Just before the end of term, students in Playgroup, aged 2 to 3 years old, were enjoying a tactile craft,
making three dimensional apples from paper shapes, before heading to their biweekly live piano sing
along. Foundation Stage 1 students, who are 3 to 4 years old, were moving between stations where they practiced making patterns with dyed pasta, blocks and wooden puzzles. Students 4 to 5 years old, in Foundation Stage 2, were outside, combing the playground and sports field to find 10 natural objects.
Once done, they brought their leaves, rocks and flowers inside to learn about the different combinations
of numbers that can add up to 10. In this fun, engaging environment, students learn through play and
move between creative learning spaces – both inside and outside – throughout every school day.
Durham Kenya’s opening has been an exciting development for students, parents and teachers, and has made a splash in Nairobi. In just its first term, Durham Kenya has enrolled students from 17 countries across three continents, and has even earned a spot on the British High Commission’s list of approved schools for relocating staff – a welcome achievement for the first British School to open in East Africa.
Durham Kenya is a truly international school, as a branch of Durham School UK. While it is one of the newest schools in Nairobi, it has a long tradition of excellence, stretching back to the founding of Durham School in 1414. Over the intervening 600 years, the school has developed a prestigious reputation for excellence at the forefront of education in England.
Durham Kenya, while developing its own character and identity, draws on that legacy, combining
traditional academic rigour with the skills and confidence that students need in the modern world. Their
Creative Curriculum follows the UK’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework and English
National Curriculum, whilst also drawing on a range of other pedagogies to take advantage of all the
learning opportunities available in Kenya.
Durham School first expanded internationally in 2019, with the opening of Durham School for Girls Doha, in Qatar, and recently announced a merger with The Chorister School in Durham, further broadening our shared foundations within the Durham International Schools family. As a part of this group, Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School shares values and tradition while thriving within its own Kenyan identity.
Durham Kenya benefits from a Governance and Advisory Board that includes Durham School UK
Headmaster Kieran McLaughlin, as well as Nicolas Millen OBE, Durham School’s Director of International Operations, and Ann Champion, who served as Head of Early Years at Durham School for 26 years and is now EYFS Director for Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School.
“We are confident that a school with strong links to the UK – shaped by 600 years of educational
experience, but tailored for the market in Kenya – will be an exciting new option for Nairobi parents,” Nick said during a visit to Nairobi just after the school was formally announced. And he was right! The school has enjoyed tremendous interest, with strong enrollment figures that have continued to grow throughout its first term. He continued, “Senior staff as well as classroom teachers in Durham are working alongside those here in Nairobi to ensure that the Nursery has the best possible support whilst at the same time developing its own sense of identity.”
The school’s opening has also highlighted ties with former Durham School students, or Old Dunelmians, as alumni are known. This esteemed group includes Judge Peter Herbert OBE, listed amongst the 100 Great Black Britons, who has fond memories of his time at Durham.
“Resident now in Kenya, I am delighted to hear Durham will be establishing a school here in Nairobi and I am in no doubt that it will quickly become an asset for East Africa,” he said after Durham Kenya was announced.
British High Commissioner Jane Marriott was one of the first guests at the school, while renovations were still ongoing. The High Commissioner attended Durham University, located just near Durham School in the UK, and so was already familiar with the school’s reputation.
“It is wonderful to see the education links between Kenya and the UK grow stronger together with the
new Durham International Nursery & Pre-Prep School opening in Nairobi,” High Commissioner Marriott
said after her early preview tour of the school. “Durham Kenya is the first British school to open in East
Africa, and I am confident of the quality education and opportunities available for Kenyan students.”
The school has enjoyed close cooperation with the British High Commission throughout its journey,
including joining in the Department for International Trade’s Education is GREAT initiative, hosting UK
Deputy Trade Commissioner for Africa Rebecca Fisher Lamb on its first Open Day, and taking part in a
virtual tour for UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Kenya Theo Clarke.
Since its announcement, Durham Kenya has also received significant local support, particularly from the Kenya Investment Authority. It aims to establish a reputation as the best possible place for children to begin their educational journey in Nairobi, and Durham’s unique style of teaching has so far attracted
many Kenyan families, as well as students representing 16 other nationalities from across Africa, Europe, and the Americas.
“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.”
Through international connections and its own Kenyan identity, Durham Kenya gives children a positive
first experience of school, fostering a love of lifelong learning and ‘Confidence for Life!’
To get to know more visit https://durhamkenya.com/