Danes Hill School in Oxshott Surrey is one of those places out of a storybook. With beautiful buildings dating back hundreds of years, bright eyed children in the sweetest uniforms, rolling green playing fields and their very own woods, the school is quite literally the rural idyll so often talked about here in Britain. The adventure playground is fantastic too with a flying fox and all manner of activities to challenge the most active primary school children.
The assembly was very similar to back home starting with a hymn, ‘Give Me Oil In My Lamp’ which is also an Abbotsleigh favourite, then moving on in the latter part to awards. I was asked to shake the children’s hands and did so with pleasure.
Afterwards I then spoke to Year 2 and 3 in separate groups. These are equivalent to our Australian Year 1 and 2 classes. Their acting skills were amazing and one of the girls stood there trying to placate the tantrum thrower by saying nothing, extending her arms and waving her hands back and forth like windscreen wipers. The group was in stitches.
We then had lunch in the boardroom with Sarah Bingham (Head of Year 3), Helen Derbyshire (Head of Year 2), Angie Lack (Head of Lower School), Elizabeth Loubser ( Head of Middle School ) and of course Janet. The food is amazing – restaurant quality and the children and teachers eat together every day.
We felt thoroughly spoilt as we left with a treasure trove of Michael Morpurgo books. Janet dropped another great surprise into the hotel too – a jar of Vegemite (for Ian who had spoken with her about how much he was missing it on his toast in the mornings!). It has been eagerly opened, smelt and savoured.
That afternoon we caught a taxi into the village of Cobham which is gorgeous. I dropped in to say hello at the Cobham Bookshop, which has a great range of children’s books. While Ian was having a haircut I had a walk around the village and came to the conclusion that the main industry was definitely real estate – and hugely expensive real estate at that. Cobham is home to the Chelsea Football Club, so there was no shortage of flashy sports cars and yummy mummies in Range Rovers either.
The staff at Danes Hill are keen to make some links with the staff and students at Abbotsleigh – I’m sure we could have some wonderful exchanges and look forward to this in the future. I’ll definitely be heading back again on the next visit.