We caught up with the headmistress, Annette Whatmough, of the independent day school in Fleet
How long have you been at St Nicholas’ School?
I have been head at St Nicholas’ for more than 15 years now. Prior to that, I taught at St Joseph’s in Cornwall and The British School, The Hague, Netherlands.
What do you see as St Nicholas’ main ethos?
It is probably best described through our mission statement: St Nicholas’
is a happy, thriving school where education is seen as a partnership between teachers, pupils and parents. We are proud to play our part in the development of children from their earlier years through to 16.
Can you tell us a bit about the school’s history?
St Nicholas’ was founded in 1935, and was originally located in Branksomewood. In 1996, we moved to Redfields House, Church Crookham, where we are today. I knew the pupils would benefit from such a beautiful rural setting – a place like this can only add to a child’s happiness and sense of wellbeing. Since then, it has been an exciting journey of development. We have added a variety of facilities for sport, the creative subjects and science. Today, all areas of the curriculum are supported with cutting-edge technology, including our recent virtual learning environment and use of iPads.
How do you ensure every pupil achieves his or her full potential?
The key word is opportunity. Our pupils are given the widest experiences that we can offer, both in and out of the classroom, and have the opportunity to grow and develop as young people. They are encouraged to pursue their chosen interests and to explore their creativity. The teaching staff work in a collaborative way, and our pupils are at the heart of everything.
What kind of feedback have you received from parents and the children?
We often hear from new parents that our students are our best ambassadors. Through sharing their experiences, they inspire others to visit. A frequent comment from visitors is that our pupils are “happy and confident” and that is something I notice on a daily basis. Our past pupils remark that they look back on their time with us with fondness. Parents and pupils collectively feel a great sense of community and appreciate the family atmosphere of the school.
What have you gained from working at St Nicholas’ School?
A sense of working for something that is much bigger than oneself, through to helping pupils develop to the best of their abilities and have a very good grounding for their future careers.
Where do you see St Nicholas’ School in the future?
As a school that looks forward by keeping the curriculum up to date and encouraging the pupils to acquire the skills needed for the 21st century.