We catch up with Jane Whittingham, head of the co-ed school based in Godalming
How long have you been at St Hilary’s School?
I have been headmistress at St Hilary’s for four years, teaching children aged two to 11 years.
What do you see as the school’s main strengths, and what facilities are available to pupils?
During their time here, boys and girls enjoy well-planned, stimulating experiences within a range of learning opportunities. Our aim is to encourage each child’s curiosity and to support them as they develop a desire to learn. Our facilities include designated indoor and outdoor areas where our pupils learn freely through a combination of adult-led and child-initiated learning opportunities. The children regularly use the large outdoor EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) areas, complete with castle and slide, as well as making excellent use of the school’s woodland and beautiful grounds.
Do you offer extra-curricular activities to younger pupils?
The majority of our extra-curricular activities are available from Year 1 upwards, however, younger pupils do have the opportunity to participate in a 30-minute dance class after school. The children also benefit from specialist French, Games and Music teachers who teach them on a weekly basis. Younger children are invited to participate in our annual events, such as Sports Day, the Nativity, and our mini-beast themed summer picnic, the Bugs & Butterflies Ball.
In Reception, Kindergarten and Nursery, activities cover all areas of the curriculum and are based around a termly or half-termly topic. Activities can be as diverse as a visit to our woodland for a bug hunt, using the bikes, creating monsters out of chalk, digging dinosaurs from blocks of ice, Indian food tasting as part of learning about Diwali or making models from clay. Nursery and Kindergarten begin their day at 8.30am. There are two sessions available during each day, with Nursery (for two to three year olds) ending at 12pm and Kindergarten (for three to four year olds) at 12.30pm. The afternoon session begins at 1pm until 4pm and we encourage children in Kindergarten to begin to stay for whole days as good preparation for school. We also offer before- and after-school care to those parents who require a longer day.
What kind of feedback have you received from parents?
Parents are very positive about St Hilary’s and this quote from a current parent is quite typical: “Wonderful nurturing environment – a school that achieves the right balance in every way. A fantastic safe, secure foundation has been provided for all three of my children. Strong, clear leadership of the school led by a head that understands each of the children well.”
How do you see St Hilary’s progressing in the future?
This year, we have introduced Philosophy, and our desire is to broaden our curriculum further. We pride ourselves on offering a buzzy yet nurturing environment that enables our children to thrive and we hope to progress this even more in the future.