Something we learn as we get older is that change is both inevitable and often challenging. I am aware that my appointment has been part and parcel of such a process and with this, my third term at Pembroke House, I also know how very heartfelt adapting to new circumstances can be.
However, with change of course comes opportunity and we have a super line up of new staff and teachers arriving to pick up the reins and take the school forward. I continue with the new staff list now and I am excited to be able to introduce each one of our new teachers, in turn below.
From a chronological point of view the awards and scholarships and academic results would be mentioned first. However, given that these awards, achievements and scholarships were all announced during the course of the final Assembly and then Speech Day I have added the list at the end of the letter as an appendix. Please do scroll down to recap over what was a very busy and exciting time and you will be reminded of how very well your children performed over the course of the year.
Included in this list are the results from the Music exams last term. I attach these in appendix l and these are new results yet to be announced at school. The Final Assembly and Speech Day details are in appendix ll.
Good Luck to our Leavers & Thank you
May I take this opportunity on your behalf to wish all our leavers from last term the very best as they start their new schools. I know you would also like to join me in thanking all the teachers at Pembroke House for their quite unique commitment, time and dedication to each and every child at school.
The International Child Protection Agency
Safeguarding is always at the very forefront of our minds. The threats of our modern-day world are many and as a school we are determined to safeguard, protect and teach our children to cope with such concerns in the very best way possible. This central tenet of the school’s determination, to place safeguarding at the very centre of all the school is about, will be supported over the coming months by the International Child Protection Agency, who have been contracted to oversee our safeguarding practices and carry out refresher training for all staff.
The extra training is crucial to keep all staff up to date with all information pertaining to safeguarding. In January the school will also undergo a 5 day, safeguarding and child protection audit.
Safeguarding at School
Our new Designated Safeguarding Lead is Evonne Wheeler. Evonne has been part of the safeguarding team for the last 2 years and thus she has gained considerable experience along the way. Evonne’s Deputy will be Alastair Littleton. The safeguarding team will be part of the broader Pastoral Team made up of Edmund Lovatt as DHM (pastoral) and myself as Headmistress. Ann Gatonye is the new Safeguarding Lead on Council and we are most grateful to her for taking on this extra responsibility. We have already had a full hand over from the outgoing team and a comprehensive training session from Gordon Opie, our licensed Safe Guarding Educator, from the UK.
We believe that the opportunity to benefit from the help of a counsellor is an increasingly important part of offering a balanced upbringing and a sound education. With this in mind we were very keen to have a counsellor at school, at least once a week to begin with, to help pupils, parents and hopefully, if we have time, members of the Gilgil community. Charlie Collins has kindly agreed to join us. Charlie is based in Nanyuki and already well known to many.
Charlie is a qualified Rogerian Psychologist and Five Element Acupuncturist, she trained and is accredited in UK. She has over 20years of experience in the field of psychology and 15 years in acupuncture. She holds a BA Hons in Person Centred Counselling and an MSc in contemporary Person Centred psychotherapy.
Charlie’s core areas of work in the UK were Trauma, Eating Disorders, Anxiety and depression. Within private practice she has also worked heavily with Families and Children, Adolescents and Adults through group sessions and one on one through communication and horse assisted therapy.
If you would like to contact Charlie independently her e mail is Charlie_coll@hotmail.comand her phone number is +254720291889
We are most fortunate that Edmund has agreed to return for what will be his second tour of duty at Pembroke House. Up until now Edmund has managed to stay in touch with all matters to do with school through a busy and involved position on Council. He now re-joins us as DHM pastoral and Head of RS. For the last 3 years Edmund has been at Belhaven Hill in Scotland and I know he has thoroughly enjoyed his time there. However, like us all Edmund knows there is something truly special about Pembroke House and Pembroke children and thus despite the many advantages of teaching and living in the UK, we have managed to persuade him to join us once more.
Paulah is also returning and we are thrilled that she has agreed to be our Assistant Housemistress in Mackie House living downstairs with the younger boys. Paulah is also a very experienced Pre-Prep teacher and she will take on our Reception Class.
Neil returns as well, and this time Neil will take up the reins as Head of the English Department although he will also teach some Science. I have not worked with Neil before, but it was clear when I joined the team, recruiting the school’s new staff, that he was held in the highest esteem. On this occasion I will be part of the English Department, so I look forward to working closely with Neil as the coming months progress.
Henry joins us from Beaudesert Prep School in the UK. Like many Pembroke staff Henry is somewhat multitalented: a History specialist, a Maths teacher and passionate about his sport, especially rugby, Henry will be our Assistant Director of Sport working closely with Ben Hudson and he will teach in the Middle and Senior part of the school.
Charlie heard much about Pembroke House from Jack Chatfield who left last year. He had longed to teach in Kenya for a while having heard much of the country from his parents, who were married here. With Jack’s encouragement he applied to us. Charlie himself went to Radley, loves his modern languages and joins us as Head of French.
Becca will be our new Drama Teacher. She herself went to Windlesham Prep School where Richard Foster has been Headmaster for 12 years. (Richard was HM at PH in the 1980s). Becca returned to teach at Windlesham and then continued to teach drama at Gresham’s Prep School and she now leaves Pangbourne College to join us at Pembroke. She is passionate about Drama and all it can give to a child. She believes strongly that drama really helps to build a child’s confidence and gives them so much as they grow up.
Lilian Oyaro, qualified with a Degree in Education and well experienced with three years at St Andrew’s Turi joins us to help as a Teaching Assistant in the Junior School and as an Assistant in the Boarding Houses.
Annabelle was once our Head Girl. Since then she has been to Marlborough and gone on to complete her teaching qualification with the highly regarded and challenging Teach First Programme in the UK. We are most fortunate that Annabelle would like to join us for this coming term, and we look forward to all she will bring to Pembroke House. Annabelle will be an Assistant Housemistress in Scholes House and she will teach some PHSE and RS along with helping to organise and develop our swimming squad.
An army marches on its stomach and this also perfectly describes Pembroke House. Thus, I would like you to take special note of this paragraph and appreciate how fortunate we have been to secure Caroline’s return. This will be Caroline’s third tour of duty at school. We are all so excited that she is coming back and look forward to the really delicious meals we know her team will produce and an exciting menu for each week – no pressure, Caroline!
Duncan comes to us this term as a qualified PE instructor, who has specialised in swimming coaching. Duncan will gain valuable experience working at Pembroke House whilst contributing specialised stroke technique to our swimmers and particularly our swimming squad.
Other staff changes
Housemaster of Mackie House – Alastair Littleton
With Edmund Lovatt returning as Deputy Headmaster and also as our Head of RS we are aware that he will be extremely busy. Thus, Alastair Littleton has kindly agreed to take on the role of Housemaster of Mackie House remaining living ‘in’ upstairs, where he was last year. However, Mr Lovatt and I, will both be fully involved in the boarding side of life at Pembroke House, for it is an area we both believe is fundamental to the future success of the school.
Pre-Nursery Teacher – Celina Ritchie
It is exciting to welcome Celina back and now with young Milo at home Celina knew she would like to take on a role at school which would allow her more time with him. Thus, the move to the Pre-Nursey class is an ideal one. She joins a very vibrant team with Paulah Onyango, teaching the Reception year group, Emily Rowe teaching the Nursery group and Diana Johnson in Year 1 which is very much a transitional year between the Pre-prep and Junior part of the school.
I believe there has not been a formal note to congratulate Ben Hudson and Hannah Shoukry on the announcement of their engagement. They are to be married around Easter 2020and we all wish them much excitement and happiness in the run up to the big day.
Celina and Eddie Ritchie must also be congratulated. Milo was born about 5 months ago now and we are most fortunate that Celina will now join us again but this time, as mentioned above, in the pre prep area of the school to teach the very young nursery children.
The Pembroke House Foundation
The Pembroke House Foundation under the guidance of Bryn Llewelyn as Chairman and MJ Nuijten-Coulson as Vice Chairman, has worked hard over the last year and a half to raise money and support many very useful projects at school. The list includes: drying lines for wet weather, security cameras, 20 new chrome books for the classroom come September, 20 new tarpo tents to accommodate even the largest year group at school, the café wall being built over the holidays, a pre prep classroom also being built as I type and a container to help streamline operations in the kitchen, a container for storage of various items of merchandise, the rehabilitation of the spring and the reorganisation and clean up of the IT network. The Spring is a vital source of fresh water for the school and this project has helped the spring produce 30% more water than before. The rehabilitation project has also allowed us to keep the water clear from contaminants. The network clean-up is vital to help allow all the school’s systems to operate smoothly and with the best speeds possible. In addition, the chromebooks, a very exciting IT initiative, will need the best connection possible to allow the children to fully benefit.
All the projects have been fully funded by the PHF but I know Bryn and MJ would like to join me and thank Chantal the school’s Bursar and Ben Cork for their help and support with managing the projects and bringing them to successful completion.
The Café Wall
With the café as a very popular area for parents, teachers and children when accompanied for a treat the school has been aware that the area is quite close to the school road. Whilst not overly busy we felt this wall would help with the general safety of the children and at the same time it would improve the overall ambience of the area.
The Pre-Prep Classroom
With the Pre-Prep growing by the term the school was well aware it needed an extra teaching / learning area. Thanks to the PHF the Pre-Nursery group will now have their very own classroom.
The Network clean up
The IT network began many years ago when our life with computers took off. Thus, it has mushroomed and grown as the school has become more and more reliant on this part of modern-day life. In todays’ world everyone needs increased speed of operation and Pembroke House and its children and staff is no different. This clean up asked for by the school and funded by the PHF will help a great deal and we are all very excited by it.
The school was fortunate indeed to enjoy the help of Touffik Najjar, last term. Touffik is an experienced and accomplished chef and restauranteur and last term he kindly applied himself to the school kitchens, mentoring the staff and looking into ways to stream line activities in order to help the kitchen produce the great numbers of covers it produces each day. Caroline always used to refer to her ‘a la carte’ menu and if one thinks about this it is not far from the truth. If you take into account the regular demands of the dining room and then add in the special meals for the San, the various food allergies or requests that parents make along these lines, added together with the packed lunches, teas, breaks and evening cocoa, the kitchen really is under the most enormous amount of pressure each day. The addition of a refurbished container to serve as a store will give extra capacity to the engine room of the school and allow work activities to be more streamlined and thus this important place of work should now be able to operate more smoothly.
The first 10 tents were much appreciated by children and staff alike. Camping and the outdoors is so much a part of all that the school is about, and we felt 10 more tents would allow the school to cope with each year group and would support the school in just the right way. Hopefully the second delivery of 10 hardwearing and strong tents from Tarpo will arrive for the beginning of term in September.
The Pro FA Football Camp
Thanks very much to Sammy Likoko and his proactive determination to arrange this Charity Event, Pembroke House was very happy to host the Pro FA Kenya football camp with Harmbee Schools Kenya.
This is an initiative with Harambee Schools Kenya (HSK) to create a community football team from local schools, giving young boys and girls the opportunity to focus their time and learn key skills.
The camp is run by our very own Sammy Likoko who, alongside his team of coaches, made it a great success with lots of smiles and memories made. HSK CEO Amie Willenberg said she was ‘very proud of what they had created and incredibly grateful for Pembroke’s generous support and encouragement to continue’.
Further Community Involvement
My visit to Gordonstoun reminded me of the work of Kurt Hahn who believed that children should feel that they are really making a meaningful contribution to life. Kurt Hahn believed a real sense of contribution and involvement were vital for the development of humanity. At Gordonstoun the school has its very own fire brigade as well as their own yacht – Ocean Spray.
Over the course of the coming year we hope to become more involved with Restart in Gilgil, along with other projects in the local area. Feeling part and parcel of such important work will add much, we hope to the lives of local people and it will also contribute much to our own lives at Pembroke House.
Initiatives at School
The school is purchasing Planet Bofa which is an on-line programme to practise verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Many schools nowadays use such testing to assist them with assessing potential pupils prior to Common Entrance. Practice always helps and Planet Bofa should allow us to help the children and it is also perceived by children as a relatively enjoyable exercise!
Prep is a very useful time for the children and staff. Teachers can understand exactly what the children can manage working independently. Children in turn learn to and puzzle things out alone and answer set questions without being able to always seek extra help. Up until now this exercise has been supervised by the teachers on duty and Year 8s. As you can imagine, despite the best intentions of all involved this can be a challenging exercise, taking place as it does after supper and at the end of the day.
The general levels of excitement tend to be quite high and managing the hour so devoted to Prep can be quite difficult.
To this end we will start term off with a teacher in place overseeing each classroom. Hopefully staff can have a productive hour marking or preparing for the following day and the children can settle down to their tasks quickly and sensibly. A teacher will also be more easily on hand to help if children get stuck and to provide useful feedback for those that set prep should difficulties arise.
We hope to cut down on the use pf plastic at school and using metal water bottles seems to be a very sensible ‘next step’. These water bottles will also be much more hygienic than plastic ones with small spouts and the school’s plastic cups. The metal water bottles will also be easier for the kitchen team to clean each week and they will not be dangerous should they break like glass bottles. The popular Chilly water bottles can now be ordered from our school shop ‘The Clothing Company East Africa’ and if ordered before term starts, they will be ready for the beginning of term. You may well have your own metal water bottle but if not please do order one through the shop.
The School Shop
The Clothing Company East Africa
This is owned and run by Katie Keith and Mandy Hancock. They have worked tirelessly to source the best materials and designs to support our uniform. The school is very excited to be able to provide a designated room for the Shop at The Head’s Hub and I hope you all approve, love the uniform and enjoy your visits. Please do also visit the School Shop website and social media sites using the details below.
Katie Keith +254 727 731 241
Mandy Hancock +254 706 589 038
The Head’s Hub
Since Robin and I live about 3 minutes’ drive from the school gates we felt it would benefit the school to use the Head’s House as an administrative and entertainment centre. As I have explained we have invited the School Shop to take up one of the rooms in the house. This means parents can pop down or even children can visit to purchase new items of uniform or get second hand uniform and recycle their own old uniform. The School Shop will also kindly sell merchandise for the PHF.
B & B
The Heads Hub will have 2distinct areas of accommodation for B & B. We feel this will help many parents with somewhere to stay and it will also support parents and children ‘trying out’ the school in those early days.
Entertainment & Meetings
The Head’s house was given quite a make-over for the arrival of Jason and Cathy Brown and as such it will make an ideal location for lunches, evening affairs and parties. The new parents’ tea on Sunday will take place at the house. Council meetings and other school forums will also take place at the Head’s Hub.
For now, whilst we work out the intricacies of running the Hub, please could you contact me and copy in Katrina, our Registrar, if you would like to book a room for B & B.
Chala Cadot takes the most, lovely photos and we have used one of her photographs at the beginning of this Letter. Please do contact Chala if you would like to arrange photographs of your children at school when they are in matches and taking part in other school activities.
Details for the contacts etc are as follows:
I wonder if I could ask all parents and guardians to get in touch with me firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like your child to miss school for any reason. I absolutely understand the many pressures on families and the variety of demands that you are trying to juggle. Thus, if I can give you permission I most definitely will. I will however, also inform you of any immediate consequences just in case this knowledge might actually be useful and actually serve to change your plans.
For parents and children, we understand that gate passes are somewhat frustrating and time consuming. However, the school takes its responsibility to look after and safeguard your children very seriously. Please could you endeavour to seek a gate pass from the House staff. With some forethought an e mail to your Houseparent will help here, and you may find that your child appears, as if by magic, gate pass in hand and this will cut down a great deal of time hunting down the necessary staff. Getting in touch with the House staff is so helpful for us as a school since the House staff are the ones who must know which child is in and which child is out and why.
May we remind you that all phones must be the simple ‘bricks’ merely capable of text message and calls. Smart phones of any type are strictly forbidden. This protects your children, both from the dangers of the internet and strangers contacting them but it also protects the children from the addiction to hours on their phone staring at a lit screen engaging with a virtual world. Evidence increasingly suggests that such fascination and engagement is not good for children’s overall development and needs to be controlled.
Phones and the start of term
With the start of a new academic year children need to be encouraged to get on with their daily activities and make friends. Thus phones will only be given out in the second week of term and we will finalise the time so you know as you drop your children off. This means children are free from the worry and thought of using their phone and by the time phones are allowed, your child will have much good news and many activities to report.
We understand how much as parents you would like to hear and know how your children are doing. Thus, please do establish a relationship with one of the House-parents at school so that you can hear such news. We wish to do everything we can to help everyone settle down and feel comfortable so children and their parents can really enjoy life at school, as soon as possible.
Each child at school needs a pencil case equipped with pens, pencils, a rubber, a ruler, a pencil sharpener, a glue stick, coloured pencils, felt tipped pens and a pair of scissors. Older children also need a calculator and geometry set. It is vital that all children return with these items and they should be named.
Talking of naming please could we ask you to try and name all your children’s belongings. It seems so obvious to you that your child will recognise their clothes – especially home clothes and take them back to their crate. However, experience dictates that children do not identify their own clothes and a lack of names just causes confusion and apathy. Equally no name means we cannot return items when we, as adults, come across them around and about school.
Stamped and addressed envelopes
Of course, when you are at home and you are busy getting things ready for the start of term it will often seem as if helping your child with envelopes, all ready for posting is one step too far. However, please bear in mind how time consuming it is to work through 175 such envelopes and add the correct stamps and very often the addresses as well.
All we need is 10 envelopes per term with the correct stamp placed in the corner and an address, usually your own, so that letter writing flows smoothly and the letters can all reach the post office ready for posting nice and quickly. Of course, many of you will wonder why we continue to teach letter writing in this day and age.
We strongly believe that letter writing is an important skill and one that each child should learn. Setting out a letter and learning to write about the ‘goings on’ in one’s life, not to mention thanking one’s parents and family for their kindness and such like, are important lessons to learn especially in this day and age when ‘time’ is of the essence and so much that is truly important often goes forgotten.
Council kindly allowed me to travel to the UK in order to visit many of the schools who support us and offer places to our children. I also dropped in along the way to see three prep schools. Not only did I wish to understand the priorities of our ‘next schools’ but I wished to appreciate more keenly the educational factors at the forefront of the minds of our peer schools.
I flew in to Edinburgh and started with some schools in Scotland: Fettes, Belhaven Hill (prep), Glenalmond and Gordonstoun. I then travelled to Sedbergh, Sedbergh Prep School, Ampleforth, Uppingham, Oundle, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Cheltenham, Pinewood (prep) and finally Marlborough.
Four of those schools now have a female Head. Helen Harrison at Fettes, Sarah Kerr-Dineen at Oundle, Nicola Huggett at Cheltenham and Louise Moelwyn-Hughes the Master at Marlborough.
Pembroke House children were widely appreciated, and everyone was very welcoming and helpful. As you would expect each school has its own distinctive emphasis and will suit slightly different children. Full boarding was one of the first factors that dictated this particular list of schools. I had also not travelled to Scotland in my last round as HM so I felt I should certainly start there. Boarding is the most important attribute and one which must be fully researched, and parents must lift the lid and research the reality behind the statistics they might be given.
Having said that there remain many full boarding schools I did not manage to visit in 8 days. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like any help for this important ‘next step’. At school we know the children well and over the years we have developed a very good relationship with so many schools both here at home in Kenya, in South Africa and of course in the British Isles. It is a great pleasure to try and find the right school for you.
Dates to note in your diaries
The calendar is on its way but in the meantime please make a note of these dates in your diaries.
Friday 20thSeptember – Sunday 22ndSeptember 2019
Climbing Mount Longonot
Sunday 29thSeptember 2019
This will take place on Sunday 29thSeptember. This is an important part of the training for the Mt Kenya climb which is scheduled for the Year 8s during October half term this year. Please do kindly arrange for your child to be at school for this event. It allows staff and children to check boots, clothes and fitness. The teachers will also use this day to check the kit each child has ready for the climb
Sedbergh Cocktail Party, Music evening & Year 8 Dinner
Friday 11thOctober 2019
Saturday 12thOctober 2019
The athletics fixture which we attend at Kasarani Stadium has been moved. This impacts on our usual date for our Inter House Athletics. This means we have had to move Sports Day / our Inter House Athletics to Saturday 12thOctober. This will be preceded on the Friday by a music evening, a cocktail party kindly sponsored and hosted by Sedbergh and the first Year 8 evening at the Head’s Hub.
Half term will start at 2 pm on Saturday 12thOctober 2019 immediately after Sports Day has finished.
Mt Kenya – Year 8s
Saturday 12thOctober 2019
Year 8 will climb Mt Kenya, leaving school on the Saturday of Sports Day departing once the morning’s activities are over. Please do make a note of this.
The Sports Tour
12/13thFebruary – 19th/20thFebruary 2020
The Sports Tour will travel to South Africa in the Lent Term. They will depart during half term and return just a little late to school after their trip.
Our new Office Holders and Prefects for 2019/20
I count myself most fortunate to be coming back and starting off with such a lovely group of Prefects. Hopefully with their advice and help we can look forward to a very happy year.
Head Girl – Mwisiwa
Head Boy – Digby
Deputy Head Girl – Tracie
Head of Sport- Sophia
Head of Mackie House – Max
Head of Scholes House – Ruana
First Prefect – Jadyn
Matters on your mind
We understand and absolutely appreciate the trust you place in us at school and we are fully aware of the responsibility we bear to look after your children. Our priority is to help you and your child relish the unique and very special experience of enjoying an education at Pembroke House.
To this end may I ask you to kindly get in touch or come and see me with any concern or problem you might have. Hopefully, I will be able to explain the situation. If I cannot manage this, we may well have to change something at school in order to address your concern so we can improve matters for all.
‘For the good of the children,’ is at the heart of all we do at Pembroke House and this guides us each and every day at school.
I look forward to a tremendous term ahead. The calendar is packed with excitement and activities, not to mention the usual comprehensive and far reaching timetable of lessons and games. We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy such a broad range of activities and such enlightened and aspirational teaching and learning, in our very beautiful and unique location.
Sunday 11thAugust 2019