Teacher’s return to first school, 25 years later

A teacher has returned to the school where she began her career - a quarter of a century later.

Julie Humphries took over as head teacher at Oliver Thomas Nursery School and Children’s Centre earlier this year.

She first came through the nursery’s doors in 1986 aged 25 when, as part of a pilot, she worked four days a week at Canberra Road Children’s Centre (which was then run by social services and mostly offered full time places to what are now termed ‘Vulnerable’children.)

At the same time she was contracted to work one day a week at Oliver Thomas to benefit from working alongside teacher colleagues and attend training days.

Her career took her to Haringey where in 2000 she took up the post of deputy head of one of the first Children’s Centres in the country.

Julie has also raised two children but began to look for a post as head once they were older. She said: “I had always been impressed by the quality of provision and services in Newham and was keen to return. When the post came up at Oliver Thomas it felt as if it was destiny so I immediately visited and applied for the position.” She took up post of head teacher at the nursery in Matthews Avenue, East Ham, at the beginning of the summer term.

She told the Recorder: “I worked there, in 1986, (Oliver Thomas) every Friday, across all three rooms – blue, red and green, that are still named the same 20 years on. The main nursery building is still the same – three separate classrooms with attached stock cupboards , with all three rooms leading on to the garden.

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“The rest of the building has changed substantially. A whole new purpose built children’s centre takes up what was the old car park and part of the garden so we now park in the street and run from our cars to school. The main garden has been substantially renovated and improved to provide a wonderful fourth classroom.

“From my perspective as head, the biggest change is the building of office space. The head teacher back in 1986, Sonia Raby, conducted her work in a windowless metal cabin, which is now at the back of the building and used for storing our baby bank stock. I have the luxury of a large, well lit, well ventilated office with brilliant storage and ICT equipment. How times have changed.”