Kidzink Design has partnered with the Aldenham Education Group to create world class learning spaces in one of KSA’s newest and most exciting schools, Aldenham Riyadh.
Kidzink Director of Education, Jenny Mollon, travelled to Riyadh to interview the school’s Founding Head, Mrs Vicky Gocher. Mrs Gocher will move to Riyadh after 11 successful years leading Aldenham School in the UK.
Vicky, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your career in teaching?
I always, always wanted to be a teacher and I have now been teaching for 30 years. To begin with, my teaching focused on English (which is still very much a passion of mine, I love watching children making steps forward in their language learning!). Later, I focused more on teaching geography, which is another passion. It’s so important that children are learning outside of the classroom, on field trips, for instance…and learning geography is a great channel for this.
I have spent the last 11 years at Aldenham School in the UK. It’s been incredible to lead such a special and successful school and I am so excited for my next Aldenham chapter in Riyadh.
What would you say are the hallmarks of an ‘Aldenham’ education?
I think it is fundamentally about a deep sense of belonging. That is, belonging for the children, the families and the staff. There’s a real, solid strength of community at Aldenham. In my experience, when children feel like they belong and they trust those around them, it creates an innate feeling of wanting to do their best. At Aldenham, children love that sense of when they’re being congratulated, but equally they don’t need the congratulations to feel proud of themselves. Our students have the confidence to give new things a go and just keep on trying. It’s great preparation for the life around them and great preparation for the future.
How will you and your team bring that sense of belonging to Aldenham School in Riyadh?
Firstly, it will be about truly connecting parents to the school. At Aldenham, we recognise that it takes three parts of a child’s life (the child, their parents and the teachers) to help them to learn. Connection can be simple things like having parents in to hear children read, to take part in workshops or perhaps join us on school trips. We want to work with parents so they know we will listen to their needs.
Aldenham in the UK is a very old school, with lots of history and heritage. How has your partnership with Kidzink Design helped you to bring the look and feel of Aldenham to KSA?
The oldest buildings at the school in the UK are from 1875, though the school itself goes back for far longer – 425 years!
Great learning spaces are integral to giving children a sense of calm, a sense of being able to be busy and focused. We don’t want children to feel compressed or squashed into a space. Nor do we want any child to feel overwhelmed in their school. The fantastic classrooms, specialist learning areas and play spaces Kidzink are creating will enable children to do things at their own pace. Teachers will have lots of options for group work or one to one focus.
There has been great thought behind every area of the school. For example, the canteen has been designed so that lunch time will be super social, as well as somewhere to eat food from our nutritious menu. The use of the Wellbeing Room, I think, will evolve over time, however from the start it will be a comfortable and reflective place for all students to use. In the Resource Centre, the somewhat traditional design and décor has a very important nod back to our heritage in the UK, but it is also very practical and inviting too.
Vicky, in just a few months from now, parents and children will be walking through the gates of Aldenham School in Riyadh. Can you give us your predictions of what those first days and weeks will be like?
I know there will be that strong sense of community from day one. Right from the start, our children will have pride in and ownership of their school. It really is so exciting to think that very soon everything will be fully functioning, really, really beautiful and that our wonderful students will be making the most of every single space. I can’t wait for September!