ABOUT ROCHFORD HOUSE
Situated on a beautiful property surrounded by trees and a beautiful campsite, Rochford House, operating as a self-directed learning community for children aged 5 years plus, is a short distance away from both bus and rail links.
Rochford House has a maximum roll of 16 children and as a small learning community seeks to provide an environment that nurtures sensitivity and encourages inquiring and attentive minds.
Our space consists of children and facilitators*.
* Rochford House facilitators ensure that the community is safe and that its members feel free to engage in self direction and culture creation. They are present with the children on a day to day basis, getting to know each child, building relationships, getting to know their interests, observing and where appropriate engaging in play and social interactions. Our facilitators support children with their projects when they request support and they also bring their own projects to share with the children. Fundamentally, our facilitators are also members of the community. They are real people with real feelings, interests and beliefs. Their role is not to withhold their experiences, interests and world views but rather to share their passion for life and knowledge, to act with integrity and by being models, ensure that children feel safe in doing the same.
Chris Minton (Co-Founder and Facilitator)
Chris has had an amazingly diverse teaching career working in mainstream schools and in international schools both in the UK and abroad. She has taught children from ages two to sixteen. She has worked as a volunteer in Pakistan, working with local children and has taught in China, The Philippines, in America and also in Malaysia for many years. She qualified in 1980 and has been a classroom teacher, a year group leader, a Head of Department and a Head of a Kindergarten in an International school.
Chris has been a teacher for almost forty years and has never lost her love of learning. She has seen many dedicated teachers in her time but finds the present school system sadly lacking in its provision for nurture and meeting the needs of many children. She believes that many children are labelled as failing to meet targets when in fact they have simply not yet reached that stage in their development.
Rochford House co-founder Nyree Rochford, knowing her sisters passion for working with and helping individual children, called upon her to co-create a learning environment that really promotes this “love of learning” for her own two children and also for other children within the community. Chris was extremely happy to join forces to make it happen.
Chris believes that in order for children to learn they have to be in an environment where they feel safe and secure and also know that they are cared for and special. She believes that when children know this, the wonderful journey of educational discovery can begin.
In a very highly regarded international school in Surrey, parents would request their children be placed in her class and would have children getting upset when the school day came to an end because they were having so much fun.
Chris is excited to be creating a learning community with her sister Nyree and being able to provide a wonderful experience for a small group of children. They want to keep it small so that every child feels safe and secure, valued and heard.
Nyree Rochford (Co-founder and Facilitator)
Nyree has two children aged five and three and a strong belief that children learn best through self-direction and passion-driven learning. This has come about through her own personal experience of being a mum and watching how her children have developed and flourished through being allowed to follow exactly what they are interested in at any given time, in an unhurried and unpressurised environment. She has also studied at home the subjects of self-directed education and children's rights for over two years now and her interest in the subjects are ever growing. She is truly passionate about the way that children learn. The key she believes lies in keeping alive the child's inner spark to learn, and giving the child a nurturing space to pursue their interests. “If the thirst for knowledge is kindled in the child, you cannot stop him from learning; he is going to learn anyway.” Jagadish Vasudev
Nyree believes that there needs to be a shift from standardised schooling to personalised learning i.e. creating conditions where children's natural talents can flourish.
She herself was very privileged to attend a private independent girls school in Solihull from the age of two and a half through to eighteen years of age. At the end of this period she went on to achieve an Honours degree in Law and qualify as a lawyer, even though her true passions from a very young age lay in the subjects of Art and Home Economics, neither of which were held with the same regard as the degree with which she ended up studying. Although she is truly grateful for the fantastic opportunities which her parents gave to her and the sacrifices made to send her to such a school, she feels that she was never encouraged at school or at home to pursue her true interests as they were not deemed to bring about social status and money. It would be years studying law and then working in three different law firms (loving her colleagues company and the people she met but not the endless desk work), before she decided that she would take the plunge and go back to what she truly loved. Combining her two passions, she launched two separate cake businesses and has not looked back since. Her favourite quote is "Do what you love and you'll never work another day in your life..." Brian Tracy
Nyree wants her children and other children within the community to have the opportunity to follow their interests and passions and to be truly motivated in what they are doing.
Mary Henry (Overseas Consultant)
Mary has been an educator for many years starting her career as a qualified Montessori teacher and then when her eldest of four children was eight she took up the position as head of an International Primary school in Malaysia. This is where she met Chris who was appointed as head of Infants in the same school.
She later moved on to be Head of another international Primary school. As a family they relocated to Australia and she once again found herself in a Montessori school.
After a number of years when her children had finished university she moved back to her home in Malaysia where she was involved in setting up a refugee school. The school in question is an amazing place where they have tutors, teachers and volunteers come to help children from terrible homeland situations settle in and provide a safe community where the children and students thrive. She has seen children's love of learning overcome many obstacles.
She has been involved in training teachers as well as writing a whole infant/ primary years curriculum for a franchise with Chris which is still used in Malaysia. She has headed up projects setting up early years units within schools and has been responsible for resourcing and hiring the staff to run them. Mary is an avid advocate for children and loves to watch how children learn and to see where their passions lead them.
Mary is now very excited to be a consultant for Rochford House and liases frequently with Nyree and Chris. She is a frequent visitor to England and is excited to be able to see the children at Rochford House develop their love of learning and enjoy their joy of discovery.
Nav Rahman (Gadget Enthusiast, Sportsman and Volunteer Facilitator)
Nav is the brother of Chris and Nyree and is amazed at the self-directed community that they are creating. Although he quite enjoyed most elements of his time at a traditional private school, he is still 100% behind their idea and is very happy to support it.
Nav owns his own successful window cleaning business, enjoys being his own boss and the freedom that this brings. He is also in the latter stages of designing his own home (complete with some amazing gadgets: a retractable projector, a secret laundry shoot and motion sensor lights to name but a few!) . He is our 'gadget man' and loves technology, art, literacy and sports. He is excited to be spending some of his time at Rochford House as a facilitator. He will help in all areas including helping children fly drones, race scalextric, assist with computer queries and play sports.
Nav was privileged to attend a private boys school in Solihull and in Tettenhall, playing both Rugby and Cricket to a high level, participating both in the UK and overseas. He also enjoys writing and has a great imagination for fiction which he will enjoy sharing with the children.
Nav is looking forward to spending some time at Rochford House helping children develop their passion for learning and hopes to instil a love of gadgets and an interest in technology with some of the children!
Rachael Clayson (Child Specialist and Volunteer Facilitator)
Rachael has worked with children for 20 years in some capacity - nannying, teaching, child-minding and SEN support work.
Nothing brings her greater pleasure than seeing a child learn through exploration in a nurturing environment. Endless hours spent playing both indoors and outdoors with no time restrictions is in her opinion, the best start to a child's life.
Rachael has nannied in the UK for many years and also as a live in nanny for a family in the Cayman Islands. She has worked in a Montessori school too which is where her interests for more divergent learning started.