My name is Nick Andrews and I have just become headteacher at the village school.
This is my first headship. I entered teaching as a second career in my mid-forties and have taught in three different schools – first as a drama specialist, then as a senior teacher and then deputy head. I am married with two grown-up children.
I believe strongly in the importance of the work we do in schools. It matters on so many levels; the core skills that are needed to manipulate and understand the world, the social skills that we need to work and be with other people and the affirmation that comes from finding success in an activity or project.
We are lucky that the school has been in the very capable hands of Hazel Bascombe for the last two terms. All the staff and governors have done a fantastic job in stabilising and then improving the school. It is on the way up; we are acknowledged as being in the ‘good’ category by the local authority, our number of pupils on roll is rising and there is an excellent team in place to ensure we continue on this trajectory.
As the year unfolds, we will be doing more learning outside of the classroom. Denham is an ideal environment for learning; there are fields and woods, shops, garden centres, a lovely church and a number of open spaces we can use. I have joined us to a fast-growing movement called ‘Forest Schools’ – our children will be expertly supervised as they learn about the flora and fauna and how to play and learn safely in the outdoors.
Village schools such as ours have the opportunity and obligation to be centres of learning in their communities. We are all learners (and that very much includes me!) and Denham is now officially affiliated to a teaching school alliance. We will provide a place of training to students of education, returners to teaching, apprentices, parent volunteers and community volunteers. The community has a great deal to offer the school and I do not intend to waste the goodwill, knowledge and expertise that is there. The effect on the children is very positive; they learn to work with a wide range of different people who can offer them so many different experiences.
For any of us to learn effectively we need to feel safe and secure. I want our children to be safe from anything in school that harms their self-esteem.
My years in education have taught me that high self-esteem is inextricably linked with success. We will be rigorous and point out the difference between right and wrong – but we will do it in a way that never harms the child. Every single one of us is of high importance and is worthy of consideration and respect – I really mean this.
In our hall will be some ‘watch words’ – KIND, TRUE and HELPFUL.
These are words that will come to symbolise our approach to each other and everyone in the community that we affect. It is a tall order and it takes work.
We will be an open school. Please telephone us and make an appointment to come in and see us at work. If you would like work with us in some way we will also be very open to that.