Dr Carolyn Shelley
Headmistress of the ‘Squirrels’.
As Headmistress of Dean Close Pre-Preparatory School, ‘The Squirrels’, I am delighted to be part of the Dean Close family of schools. I have been Head since September 2011 and have the great pleasure of seeing children grow from their first steps on their learning journey at two years of age, to becoming confident, articulate and well-developed seven year olds, ready for their exciting next adventure at the Prep School.
We have a wonderful modern purpose-built school for our pupils, set in beautiful grounds with excellent facilities and resources. Although facilities are vital in giving children the opportunities and space to enable them to fully flourish and develop, I believe it is the philosophy and ethos of a school that makes all the difference to a child’s start on their educational journey. During my career, I have been lucky enough to have worked both in the UK and abroad, teaching from Reception to Year 6. I have worked in two international schools, in Uganda and in Kenya, and this has given me the opportunity to experience and value many cultures and to bring this into my teaching. My aim in all my teaching has always been to make learning ‘irresistible’ by which I mean providing such an exciting, challenging and vibrant educational environment that children can’t wait to start learning. Children who love coming to school every day because they are taking part in stimulating, practical and exciting activities, learn quickly and effectively and are able to retain and apply their knowledge – and this is our aim in all we do here at Dean Close Pre-Prep.
Our fantastic WOW Days are an excellent example of this – the curriculum is suspended for the day to provide an unusual or amazing experience to start, augment or finish a topic the children have been studying. We also have whole school WOW Days where the whole of Pre-Prep takes part in an exciting day together, focusing on an area of the curriculum such as Maths, Creative Arts or Science. During these days we often make use of our wonderful outside environment, including our large Forest School, where the children take part in imaginative, creative and investigative activities designed to inspire a love of the natural world, which is then linked to all areas of the curriculum.
The importance of each individual child is at the heart of all we do; the Christian faith underpins our school and we believe that each child is a valued and unique member of the community. We are committed to enabling each child to fulfil their potential, finding and developing their talents. Our high teacher-to-pupil ratio enables our dedicated and caring staff to meet each child’s individual needs and provide a safe and happy learning environment. We offer a broad curriculum and many extracurricular activities and clubs including choir, strings orchestra, speech and drama, PE, art and craft, dance and thinking skills.