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First Day at School

 Although I will often struggle to remember things from last week, I am fortunate to have an unusually good memory for my early childhood. I can genuinely remember waiting outside the greengrocer in my pram; lying in the long grass having a 2-year-old tantrum and conversations I had with friends on the way home from nursery, including one with Rebecca Lee (3) about which house we were going to live in when we got married. One of my strongest memories however is my first day at Brookmans Park Primary School. I remember the picture on my peg and my lovely teacher Miss Kovic – and having to spend five minutes on the naughty chair for going in the Wendy house where the boys were not allowed. Those early experiences at school are so important to get right, and a happy first day will make the rest so much easier. Luckily for me I managed to overcome this early set-back.

Today is the first day of school for our Nursery and Reception children and getting it right has taken a great deal of thought, planning and preparation. Of course for many of our children, starting school is something they’ve been waiting for all their lives, with time spent in the family centre or in the playground, dropping off and collecting their older brothers and sisters. But for others, school is completely new.

The process of welcoming our new children started last year with ‘play-dates’ in the classroom with their new classmates. For many, early friendships were made and plans put in place to meet up over the summer. Then, during the first week of term, the teaching team visited all children new to Highgate Primary in their homes. As well as an opportunity for the teachers to check out the décor, drink coffee and eat lots of cake, the home visits enabled children to know that they would be cared for by familiar and trusted adults. Each child was presented with their own iconic purple Highgate Primary book bag, ready to personalise with key rings. The excitement was tangible – they had been initiated into a very exclusive club! A photograph was taken of each child’s favourite toy and was put on display in the classroom, ready to great them on arrival.

Attention was given to every detail to ensure the classrooms and outside spaces were ready and prepared to be as enticing, inviting and home-like as possible. On Friday afternoon the space looked beautiful – there was just one thing missing. And then the big day came…

Highgate Primary will be this cohort of children’s home for the next seven years – so getting day one right can’t be left to chance. We’ve even renamed the Wendy house and opened it up to boys.

William