Note from our Head
You have all received a fair amount of communication from me over this most unusual of terms and a number of end of year messages from me over the last few days so I would like to focus the start of this Newsletter on the 3 much-loved teachers who we are bidding a fond farewell to at the end of this term. Between them they have given over a century of their time, dedication and love to Oakfield Prep and the teaching of our wonderful children.
We all wish Mrs Kirsty Cubberley-Lobb, who has been such an integral part of drama, sports and personal development, the best of luck in her new role at Dunraven.
Mrs Joanne Azulay has been with us since 2002 and her dry wit and true dedication to the subject of Science will be much-missed. May she go into retirement happy in the knowledge that she has undoubtedly inspired a generation of new scientists.
And last but not least, to Mrs Jill Davey. She has taught me, let alone the children, so much. Her knowledge, wisdom and enthusiasm have been a fixture at Oakfield for 42 years as a teacher, and 45 as a parent. Our nurturing environment and focus on the child will be her legacy at Oakfield from when children arrive in the Nursery to when they leave us in Year 6. Below we have a piece written by our Marketing Officer Ben Golden who had a conversation with Jill as she prepares to leave Oakfield and begin her next stage of life.
As I say to all our former staff, parents and pupils, you may leave Oakfield but we dearly hope Oakfield will never leave you, and you are always welcome to come visit us any time.
Have a wonderful summer until the burgundy red gate opens again...
You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that after 40-plus-some years in a profession you’d more or less seen it all. What a strange time it is then for Oakfield Prep School to say goodbye, at the end of this term, to one of its most treasured and longest-serving staff, Jill Davey. She has been a teacher here for 42 years, and like Oakfield itself, has truly become part of the fabric of the community and Dulwich life.
Even in the midst of this pandemic-interrupted swansong Jill remains as astute, child-focused and overwhelmingly positive as ever; “This has been the most unusual year but when the children came back after lockdown, they came in, washed their hands, stood for a while, looked around the classroom, re-engaged with their environment and then just got on with their activities.” They have clearly learned something from Jill who seems to blend non-stop enthusiasm with an insatiable work ethic: “This period has helped me to think about the next stage in my life. I’ve been on a crazy rollercoaster of next thing, next thing, next thing but this has enabled me to slow down, reset and prepare me for what comes next.”
And who can blame her for needing time to think about what her life will look like post-Oakfield? After all, her journey with the school began back in 1975 when David Essex and Leo Sayer were riding high in the charts and her son, Justin, took his first tottering steps into school, soon to be followed by his younger brother Spencer. She reminisces that it was a much smaller school in those days, comprising solely of what is now the Prep side of the road, which at that time was still two separate buildings. Almost immediately she was a parent highly engaged with the goings-on at school, “helping out at trips, plays, concerts”, and leading the fundraising for the bricks that would be used to construct the school hall and bring the Oakfield buildings together for the first time. Now plays, concerts and even lunch(!) could actually be served on the school site. Prior to this the school had made use of Croxted Hall (now a block of flats) on Croxted Road for all these functions.
The Head at the time, Mrs Seager, must have spotted something in this energetic, go-getting parent, because before too long she asked Jill if she would like a job at the school. Despite already having a job working part-time with elderly residents in Lewisham she didn’t think twice about changing careers: “I had no doubts about taking up the challenge. I was following what I enjoyed.”
Jill has worked in Early Years throughout her career and clearly relishes the ongoing responsibility and challenge of nurturing the youngest children here at Oakfield where ‘every day is different’. She started as a TA in Lower Foundation and then led the re-opening of the Nursery (which was where the Bursar’s Office now sits) looking after 12 children by herself, admitting “it would not be legal by today’s standards.” Then, during one of the most transformative periods at Oakfield, Jill shepherded the Lower School across the road to its present position after what had been the John Wycliffe secondary school became part of Oakfield. Sadly, the open-air swimming pool at the end of what is now the Pre-Prep playground went with it.
These drastic developments serve to illustrate Jill’s response when asked what her advice would be for teachers entering the profession: “You need to be adaptable to change.” School buildings change, headteachers change, even owners change, but Mrs Davey has been a steadfast, reassuring presence throughout. There can’t be many other teachers who can claim to have taught three generations of the same family, nor who can regularly recognise parents at Open Days and observation days as previous pupils of theirs. Perhaps one of the most tangible examples of Mrs Davey’s influence is former Oakfield pupil and current Early Years teacher Katy Treppass, who can distinctly remember running around Mrs Davey’s ankles and flowing skirts. Jill reflects that: “I’ve (nearly) seen it all, and you have to let staff find their path; I may see them try something, knowing it’s not going to work, but you have to let them make their own mistakes…and I can see myself in all my staff, their mannerisms and methods, and that’s quite gratifying if it means I haven’t done a half-bad job.”
For Jill it is clearly all about the children: “you never get two groups that are the same and that’s what makes it so exciting”, and marvels at the flexibility modern teaching allows to capture their attention by following their passions and interests: “if a child brings a snail shell to the classroom we can change-up the lesson plan and do a lesson all about snails.” Another growing trend in education that Jill has observed is the growth of government statutory legislation, especially in Early Years, but praises this vital safeguarding which had previously enabled disreputable schooling to go unchecked.
Teaching any age at any level comes with challenges, but Jill is adamant that you need to enjoy what you’re doing, adding: “If a school, or teaching isn’t right for you, then you should leave. Teaching is a passion that MUST come from the heart!” Leaving is not something Jill has seemingly ever had to really consider, as she has remained settled in the area and “it truly doesn’t feel like that amount of time [42 years] because I enjoy it so much.” Moyra Thompson, who is Jill’s eighth Head at Oakfield, remarks: “Through her instinctive knowledge of how young children grow and learn and her long experience of the Dulwich context in which we operate, Jill has been instrumental in building Oakfield Nursery's deservedly excellent reputation - memorably described by one former parent as ‘A little magic kingdom’”.
Having been so giving to others throughout her life, no-one can begrudge Jill spending more time tending to her own magic kingdom. She plans to spend her retirement spending precious time with her husband, seeing much more of her family, chiefly her mum, her two sons, and her grandchildren in Australia. She even has eyes on joining a rock choir and finding her niche someway between the WI calendar girls and coffee shop yummy mummies: “I don’t think I fit in either camp, so a rock choir should hopefully be a nice blend of the two.”
When asked what she will miss most about Oakfield she responds without hesitation: “The children of course, my staff, the teachers, the staff room fun and the parents too.” She is modest to the last, describing Oakfield as “having created our own little niche” that is “so unique and special.” Perhaps we should all take time to reflect on the fact that it is people like Jill who surely make it that way.
On behalf of everyone at Oakfield Prep School, and beyond, we all wish Jill the richest of richly-deserved retirements.
Please read the fantastic End of Year OAFs newsletter which has been sent to you but we wanted to call out just one of the items on the newsletter below!
OAFs Raffle Prize Winners
In the last two raffles that OAFS held, the Colliers and Rio Clarke won the star prize of having the new Prep playground equipment named after them.
The climbing frame is now officially called the 'Collier Climbing Club' and the new staged area is the 'Rio Clarke Arena'!
This equipment was paid for with funds raised by OAFS
Dear Parents and Carers,
What a wonderful final week we have had. The children have been creative and innovative as we complete this term’s academic projects and fun activities.
The children have made some commemorative plates to remember their time in Year 1. On Tuesday the children enjoyed an end of year party and a boogie! For our mini sports day, they showed great team spirit, cheered and encouraged their friends along. Friday’s Celebrating Success brought us altogether to acknowledge and celebrate achievements across the year group.
This academic year the children have demonstrated just how resilient, flexible and dynamic they are! Regardless of unusual learning environments they have worked hard and taken everything in their stride. We have watched all the children develop, progress and grow. They are now ready for their next venture to Year 2!
We want to thank you for all your support since September, we could not have done this without you.
Whatever your summer holiday may look like this year, we wish you a good rest, plenty of sunshine and fun with your families.
We look forward to seeing you all in September.
The Year One Team
On Thursday Year 2 held their own Talent Show On the playground!
Thank you to Eesha, Juliet, Annabel, Iris, Meredith, Beth, Willo, Zion’ae, George, Nicholas, Tobi, Nati and Michael for showing us their special skills.
What a talented bunch of children!
There was singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, skateboarding, magic tricks, jokes, etc! Well done to all the children - it was exhausting just to watch!
Thursday saw our wonderful Year 5, show us their skills and achievements in the Year 5 Bubble Talent Show.
Seraphina began proceedings with a lovely performance on the harp, followed by Alexander R who played the Bond theme tune on the guitar. Next, our athletic gymnasts Vivi, Fayo and Izzy gave us a dramatic show of skill and strength in their dazzling routine. William stepped up next with a performance of the Addams family on cello - that got us all clicking our fingers! Leon stepped up to the challenge with his amazing football knowledge as he took questions from the audience; a brave move! Alessia's graceful dance gymnastics left us all wondering how she make it look so easy! They certainly are a musical bunch as Samuel proved on his clarinet with a beautiful version of 'Surbiton Rock'. Finally, Leini took to the stage with moving rendition of Winter Wonderland on acoustic guitar.
What a great group of children, well done one and all!
PS A few jokes from Mrs Azualy...
'Two aerials met on a roof, fell in love and decided to get married...the wedding was awful but the reception was great!
I fancied a dip, so I called the local leisure centre. 'Hello,' I said, 'is that the local swimming pool?' ' I don't know,' came the reply, 'where do you live?'
How does the man in the moon cope with his hair in lockdown? Eclipse it.
Adventure Challenge Day
This week saw some 'challenging' times for our Year 6 Leavers as they took part in an Adventure Challenge Day which tested their mental and physical abilities with a whole lot of fun thrown in! Watch the vids and check out the photos below!
And don't forget to check out the amazing Year 6 Radio Play written by Mrs Barrett-Nnochiri, produced by Mr Howes, and performed with such skill by our wonderful Year 6. Well done to all involved!
A bit of rain couldn't dampen spirits at our Year 6 Leavers Party. Great balloons and great times were had!
Created with images by dylan nolte - "Documentary work for the UK National Lottery" • Mantas Hesthaven - "Embarking on an adventure" • Kimberly Farmer - "A collection of books. A little time. A lot of learning." • Caroline Justine - "untitled image" • Etienne Girardet - "So true: Don't waste your talent! Sprayed on the streets of Berlin." • Stuart Frisby - "One of the historic buildings on Spon Street in Coventry city centre." • Michel Catalisano - "Female violinist at a concert" • Nikhita Singhal - "Birthday cake"