Family focus the key to success at Kingston school
Practical outdoor learning and a family focus is the key to success at one Kingston school.
Park Hill School and Nursery is set in a large Victorian house nestled in one third of an acre of grounds, a stone’s throw from Richmond Park, all of which the staff and pupils use to full advantage.
The gardens have always been an important feature of the school and the teachers are committed to giving children experience of growing and nurturing plants by sowing seasonal seeds and bulbs.
Headteacher Emma Carroll said: “We are really having a big push for the silver eco award, with recycling and putting in water butts. We came up with eco day as a way of getting the children into our next silver award and all the things we need to achieve that.
“They are very good at recycling but it is for them to understand why they do what they do, they need to be aware of the reasons behind it all.”
The school’s holistic ethos encourages pupils to be hands-on learners which they applied to their kitchen garden where they grow vegetables and the eco day when they made bird feeders and dens.
In contrast to the formal front garden the rear area is fun, with play areas, climbing frames and an open lawn where a marquee is set up as an outdoor classroom during the summer term.
The natural setting of the grounds lends itself to the homely feel of the school and family culture that is cultivated by the teachers who make a special effort to get to know each child individually. Mrs Carroll said: “We are a small, family-centred school.
“We have a lot of children here with siblings. Every child knows every child on the school from nursery to year two.
“All the staff know all the children and I greet the children at the front door every morning and their parents and their siblings. That’s what makes us special.
“In a huge school children get lost.”
60 SECOND INTERVIEW
Emma Carroll has been at Park Hill since 2008 when she joined as head of nursery.
She took up the position as deputy head in September 2010 and this has been her first year as headteacher.
Mrs Carroll studied at Southampton University and lives in Hersham with her husband and two children, Jack and Billy, who are pupils at the school. She is expecting a third son in July.
What were you like at school?
Is it really sad to say I was a straight A student? I loved school.
What have you brought from your own experience into teaching?
I think the creative side of things. I believe children should be allowed to make mess and know that mess making is acceptable. We have lots of creative activities that go on.
What exciting things are coming up at Park Hill?
We will have a full class set of iPads for September. They will be used for cross curricular activities and we will also be keeping the normal computers in the classrooms. We are really pushing forward with ICT. So many children come in and expect all computers to be touch screen now, it’s amazing.
Do you think young children are put under a lot of pressure to achieve good results these days?
We prepare our children for the seven plus entrance exams but we are not a hothouse, I don’t believe in hothousing children. I believe in preparing them.