Meet Phillip Makhouli, Head of Skippers Hill
To many it may have seemed like a crazy time to begin your first headship, however not so at Skippers Hill! I took over at Skippers, a thriving Independent Prep School just outside of Mayfield, in September of this year and have been mightily impressed by the whole community.
My working life and teaching career have been incredibly rewarding and varied. This included engineering in the nuclear industry before moving onto teaching in schools, both state and independent, from rural Scotland to inner-city London and now East Sussex. My experiences have not only taught me the value of what schools bring to a community but also the potential of our children.
It is an honour to be the Headmaster at Skippers and the children and people here are extremely passionate about our school. The provision at Skippers during lockdown was exemplary and we have been determined that even with the restrictions, we will offer new and dynamic opportunities that will provide an education that is even better than before. This has been possible because of our dedicated staff and the full engagement of our children and parents in everything we are trying to achieve here.
The school day has been designed to be as close to normality as possible with the children’s welfare our top priority. It became obvious in the first few days that the children were so happy to be back, with one delightful boy in Reception class shouting as he skipped in on his first day, “Today is going to be the best day ever!”. Two weeks later he was having a ‘whoopsy whiffling’ time turning his classroom into a Chocolate Factory during our celebrations of Roald Dahl, ably assisted by his teachers!
In the Early Years we capture the interest of our children as they have a natural desire to learn, explore and question. Currently we are taking full advantage of our beautiful grounds, in which our Mud Kitchen, tree climbing area, secret dens and storytelling circle can be found.
Our provision is now more dynamic and diverse including:
- Our Global, Social and Ethics (GSE) programme which is a forward-looking approach based on the latest research into learning and builds 21st century skills to prepare our pupils for the future. This now runs from Year 5 up to Year 8.
- Instead of fixtures on a Wednesday and Thursday afternoon we now take Years 3 – 8 up to Bowles, outdoor learning and activities centre, to engage in activities which would not normally be part of the curriculum. These include team building, bouldering, kayaking, archery to name a few! The team at Bowles have been fantastic throughout and we are delighted to be supporting a local business.
- Our beautiful woodlands and meadows are perfect for our Outdoor Learning programme that has now been extended up to Year 6. The programme is designed to make learning meaningful and purposeful as well as helping to develop an appreciation of all natural and living things from an early age.
Our theme this term is ‘seeking challenge to positively enhance our lives and others around us’. We have all adopted this attitude and we are positive that Skippers has returned better than ever.
Phillip Makhouli, Headmaster at Skippers Hill Manor Preparatory School