Lee and Rachel Nugent set out to find a school that makes learning fun for their twin girls, and they’re so happy to have found one!
Can school ever be fun? Definitely! Lee and Rachel Nugent believe that a child’s learning experience will be ‘stickier’ if they enjoy the process. And that’s why they enrolled their children at Dover Court International School – which the girls love so much that they sometimes get upset if they can’t attend school! We spoke to them to find out why they love Dover Court…
Hello Lee and Rachel, tell us more about your children.
Abigail (Abi) and Isobel (Issie) are six this year, and will be turning seven next February. They both joined Dover Court International School in Reception class back in 2019. Now, Abi is in 2VS, while Issie is in 2SU.
What were the most important factors for the both of you in selecting a school for Abi and Issie?
We were looking for a school with a really good balance of academic achievement, access to sports and non-curriculum activities, and – frankly – a real appreciation of how to make learning and school time fun for the children. We also wanted to find a school that was truly multicultural to give our children the opportunity to learn and grow surrounded by friends of other nationalities, races and religions.
As is often the case with young twins, they can be quiet and shy with new people – having principally socialised with each other. So, it was also really important we found an educational home that understood how to help them develop their personalities and – importantly – to grow as individuals and not just ‘one of a pair’.
What was the ultimate deciding factor that led you to choose Dover Court?
Touring the school before we applied showed us that the teachers and support staff really understood our needs. The environment was obviously a nurturing one. There was a lovely, warm and friendly feeling about the school, as well as a nice combination of care and friendly discipline, together with excellent extra-curricular options that focused on fun as well as learning. We also love and appreciate the school’s articulation of its core values: integrity, enquiry, collaboration, reflection, care, resilience and global citizenship – which really resonated with us and is what we want for our children.
What sort of curriculum does the school offer?
It offers a real and effective balance between tailored academic learning, the development of practical skills tailored to age and ability, and, crucially for us, a heck of a lot of fun. The school really brings its values to life with initiatives that, for example, reward collaboration and resilience, as well as projects that focus on crucial matters such as care for the environment and animal welfare within the global citizenship framework. We know that when learning is fun, it’s a much ‘stickier’ experience for the children – and ours are proof of that.
How did the school make your children feel welcome?
From day one, the teachers and staff have done this by exhibiting care for the individual – and paying attention to each child’s needs. We were impressed right from the start with how the children were introduced to the school and each other, as well as how rules on how to behave politely and respectfully were introduced in a supportive, friendly way.
What do your children like most about attending Dover Court?
Our children adore their teachers and teaching assistants, as they also did in prior years. They often bring home tales and stories the teachers have told them and relay them to us over dinner. They also feel safe, secure and confident to raise any issues with the school staff that might trouble or concern them. The proof in the pudding is that both of our kids get upset if they are kept off school due to sickness or Covid-19 protocols. They can’t wait to go back.
The last two or so years have been rather challenging at times because, due to the restrictions, our children haven’t been able to make as much use of the school facilities as they might in more normal times. Prior to this, library time was a highlight for them – as well as PE and swimming lessons. They loved their first sports day. Even though both finished last in their sprint races, they did so with beaming smiles.
What does the school do in terms of building a community for parents?
I think like all communities, you get out what you put in. For those who wish to be fully engaged there’s plenty of opportunity to become involved as a parent class rep, or in the Dover Court Parents’ Association as a volunteer. At the same time, it doesn’t feel pressured or forced like it can in some schools.
What do you value most about Dover Court?
We love how accessible the teachers are if we have questions or concerns, and we really appreciate the time and effort they spend in ensuring the learning experience is tailored to individual needs – especially with the younger children.
How has the school lived up to your expectations?
We’ve been very happy with Dover Court – and, more importantly, so have the girls. They love the school and their teachers. Each of them has developed as an individual with their own circle of friends, and their academic progression is going well. Abi has recently been elected House Captain for her year by her peers – something we couldn’t have predicted for the shy child that started out at Dover Court.
Any advice for parents looking for a new school?
You know your own children and what they need to encourage learning and development – so look out for the best match. Visit as many schools as you are able, talk to teachers and other parents. Ask about how kids are encouraged to learn, and how they are nurtured. Ask about what happens in the good times, and the tougher times. And pick a school you think will work well for your child, not just one that will work well for you.
Thank you, Lee and Rachel!
This post is in partnership with Dover Court International School