A number of parents have moved their children out of private schools into our community primary in recent years. In most cases it hasn’t been finances that have driven their decision to abandon private education for Fitzjohn’s Primary in Hampstead. Neither is it just because attainment has been above national standards in reading, writing and maths for the last five years and significantly above in 2011. It is, as more than one parent has told me, because they felt their child would be happier in an environment which values learning and play equally and which enables children to develop independence and their own views and to respect and value the talents of others.
We may not have classes of 12, but we’re still a small school and in any case, as another ex-private parent remarked, small class sizes are not that great when your child has few friends among their classmates.
Effective engagement with parents and carers is a crucial element of the school’s success. The interim report of Camden Council’s Education Commission remarked on how Fitzjohn’s has a range of formal and informal opportunities to engage with parents.
The school’s governing body holds an annual “Fitzjohn’s Conversation” in order to better work with and involve the school community. It’s just one of the opportunities there are for listening to and working with parents and carers. And last year some year 6 members of the School Council joined in too.
Parents were recently treated to a presentation by the maths curriculum leader on how calculation is taught. I was left with no doubt as to why my daughter loves maths and understands the relevance of what she is taught to the real world – something I never really got.
Although Fitzjohn’s is in the heart of well-healed Hampstead, it’s children are from varied backgrounds and the unity and harmony fostered among them is fantastic. It’s just a pity that so many move back into private education when they leave us, which I personally believe denies Camden’s very successful secondary schools some particularly well rounded, confident and high-achieving youngsters who have had the benefit of life in such a great local community school.