School is back on good terms with the pub­lic

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

An in­fant school that has strug­gled to at­tract chil­dren in re­cent years is un­der­go­ing a ma­jor turn­around in for­tunes. Com­mu­nity edi­tor MORT SMITH talks to two head­teach­ers – one leav­ing and one ar­riv­ing – about the me­ta­mor­pho­sis

DEN­HAM Vil­lage In­fants School is a de­light­ful place for young chil­dren to take their first steps along the ed­u­ca­tional path.

The school, in Cheap­side Road, was built in 1878 but boasts a host of mod­ern ameni­ties for chil­dren aged four to seven and is rapidly at­tract­ing grow­ing in­ter­est from par­ents across South Bucks, Hilling­don and far­ther afield.

Be­hind the Vic­to­rian ed­i­fice the place has a light and airy feel with big, high class­rooms, com­put­ers in nearly ev­ery one, in­ter­ac­tive white boards and an im­pres­sive stock of equip­ment to keep the lit­tle ones ac­tive and en­gaged.

Not so long ago, it was strug­gling to at­tract new pupils and the roll had fallen to just 22 chil­dren. But there has been a re­mark­able trans­for­ma­tion in the past few months, largely due to the ef­forts of tem­po­rary head­teacher Hazel Bas­combe, who stood in fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of the pre­vi­ous head.

Mrs Bas­combe, who lives in Hugh­en­den, was deputy head at Chal­font St Giles In­fants School.

Her aim was to make the Den­ham school a wel­com­ing and friendly place where young­sters could feel safe and se­cure while com­ing to terms with the learn­ing process.

She said: “I’ve loved ev­ery minute here – and I think I’m hand­ing over the school to the new head with a much more op­ti­mistic out­look.

“The roll is now up to 35 chil­dren and although some will be mov­ing on at the end of term, we have 19 prospec­tive new pupils for Septem­ber, which would take us up to around 45 pupils.

“Still small enough for each of the chil­dren to get a lot of in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion but not too big to man­age.

“We also hope to start a nurs­ery class in Jan­uary with six chil­dren although this could rise to 10 in the full­ness of time.”

I’ve loved

ev­ery minute here – and I think I’m hand­ing over the school to the new head with a much more op­ti­mistic

out­look”

Mrs Bas­combe will take up the post as head of Jor­dans In­fants School from Septem­ber, when she will be re­placed by Nick An­drews, the cur­rent deputy head at Hugh­en­den Pri­mary School.

Mr An­drews, who is mar­ried with two chil­dren, is re­ally look­ing for­ward to con­tin­u­ing the re­nais­sance of Den­ham Vil­lage In­fants.

He said: “This school has tremen­dous po­ten­tial to be at the cen­tre of the lo­cal com­mu­nity. We have great fa­cil­i­ties, ex­cel­lent staff and a unique op­por­tu­nity to of­fer the chil­dren a rel­e­vant start to their ed­u­ca­tion with tra­di­tional val­ues.”

Mr An­drews, who used to run his own theatre com­pany be­fore train­ing as a teacher, says it’s a priv­i­lege to be al­lowed to work with chil­dren at one of the most for­ma­tive stages of their lives.

He added: “I want to con­tinue the open door pol­icy at Den­ham Vil­lage In­fants that Mrs Bas­combe has put in place.

“I’d in­vite any­one who is look­ing for a place for their child to come and have a look round.”

Visit www.den­hamvil­lage­in­fant.ik.org for more in­for­ma­tion.

Photo by Mort Smith

COM­ING AND GO­ING: In­com­ing head­teacher Nick An­drews and de­part­ing head Hazel Bas­combe out­side Den­ham Vil­lage In­fants School

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