Our story so far …
St. Andrew’s Montessori School has been open since 1996. In the early days it consisted of two classrooms and 14 children. Word of mouth and support from local families has helped the school go from strength to strength, and it’s now a thriving, busy little gem in the heart of Islington.
It has always been the main aim for Samantha Rawson (School Principal) to create an environment where children are viewed with respect and treated as individuals. At St Andrew’s, families are welcomed into a warm and nurturing atmosphere where we all have a great deal of fun together and learn a huge amount too.
Samantha cares not only for the wonderful families that attend the school but also for her amazing team of teachers. As the school has grown, so too has the staff; the members of which are dedicated to creating and maintaining this very special school. The experience and commitment of all our teachers mean that we have a very low staff turnover.
Being a mother of two, herself, Samantha knows firsthand the importance of finding a school that you can trust, communicate with and be a part of. In her own words St. Andrew’s Montessori is her third baby. The school has embraced change and growth over the years and we look forward to the new families that will join us in the future and the journey we will have together.
The church (learning inside)
The Montessori philosophy embraces the natural environment and aims to keep teaching materials as organic as possible in order to emphasise the importance of keeping in touch with nature. St Andrew’s church, where our school is based, is the physical embodiment of the aforementioned philosophy.
Built in 1894 by the renowned Islington stonemasons firm of Dove Brothers in 1854, the church is a stone construction with a predominantly wooden interior and, far from being out-dated, St. Andrew’s church offers a warm, friendly atmosphere that invites children to participate, learn and develop.
When learning inside, we encourage children to behave both spontaneously and attentively whilst absorbed in the activities that interest them, whether it is carrying furniture, setting tables, washing hands or pouring drinks.
At St. Andrew’s Montessori, each classroom is arranged into five different subject areas:
- Language (reading and writing)
- Culture and environment
- Practical life
The classrooms at St. Andrew’s Montessori are orderly, clean and inviting, with all the activities displayed so that the children can reach them. Children work in small groups, with a teacher, and other times they work alone. Learning is organised in three hour cycles, which are periods of self-directed activity, before having a break. Often a teacher may choose to centre activities on a theme appropriate for the age group in question.
St. Andrew’s Montessori adopts a ‘letter of the week’, as a school, and children are encouraged to think creatively with that letter in mind. Of paramount importance at St. Andrew’s Montessori is the need for children to be stimulated, which is why the range of activities offered by the school will vary from term to term.
The gardens (learning outside)
Not only does St. Andrew’s church provide a homely, organic place in which to learn inside; the gardens are equally exquisite. The school abides by the typical Montessori philosophy of ‘taking the inside out’ and children are allowed to choose from a range of ‘traditionally inside’ materials to take outside. This activity inspires creativity and encourages children to think laterally. Children develop gross motor skills as they climb, jump and swing, as well as social skills as they learn to take turns on equipment and play hide and seek.
Montessori philosophy suggests that children should be in touch with the substance of their world; gardening and growing activities, working with clay and even building little houses. The well-kept gardens of St Andrew’s Montessori offer a safe place for children to explore nature and embrace their environment.
Football is now an integral part of the Physical Development area of the curriculum included as part of the school fees.
The school has mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks with mineral water and a selection of fresh fruit followed by playtime outside.
A sense of community
St Andrew’s Montessori aims to promote a sense of community amongst parents, teachers and children.
- Every morning a member of staff will ‘meet and greet’ children and parents upon entry to the school.
- Thursday afternoons/Friday mornings are ‘open mornings’ whereby parents are invited and encouraged to spend time with their children in their classrooms. Not only is this a way for a parent to feel included in a child’s learning and development but it is also a great way to meet other parents whose children attend the school.
- St. Andrew’s Montessori holds a parent-teacher meeting once every term.
As a school we enjoy learning about the environment around us. A big part of this is inviting people into our setting to teach us more about what they do to help the community. This has led to fun activities with our local Community Police, Firemen as well as all our lovely parents who are doctors, musicians and artists, to mention but a few.
We love to go on school outings, especially when exploring the stunning Barnsbury Woods on our doorstep or taking books to read out of our local library. We’ve had excursions to the Tate, the Science Museum and even made pizzas at Pizza Express. And we plan to do much more!
The children and parents at St. Andrew’s Montessori School are supportive of all our fundraising activities. A few examples of these are: our Spring Bazaar, where we raised funds for Freightliners Farm; Jeans for Genes day, a repeated even that raises awareness and funds for research into genetic disorders; and the Shoebox Appeal that calls on families to collect gifts for disadvantaged children.