School open day – Saturday 27th January, 10-1pm

Our next open day will be Saturday 27th January, 10-1pm.

At Dame Catherine’s we believe every child has potential, and has something to learn and teach others in their class. We don’t group by ability, instead, children work to their own pace and abilities within our KS1 (4-7) and KS2 (7-11) classes.

We also don’t do SAT tests because we believe that learning is a journey and not something you can easily put a number on. Of course, this means our pupils do not have the stress of performing to a test so we have a happy and meaningful classroom experience which values creativity and curiosity.

Please feel free to come along to see the school, meet parents, teachers and pupils. Both the nursery and school will be open.

No booking necessary, please just come along. For directions, or any questions, please contact us.

Parents' stories

Parents’ view

We are both design professionals and involved in teaching at University level. We see first-hand the increasing levels of anxiety and mental-health issues experienced by students who have come through an education system set up to teach pupils to pass exams, and not to think for themselves. The concept of learning through trying, and doing; where failing is an important part of the process, and where having confidence in yourself is key, students are worryingly ill-prepared.

We were therefore really excited to find Dame Catherine’s, and signed our son up when he was 2. He joined nursery with Fay when he was 3 on a part-time basis as he was already established in another setting. He had become increasingly unhappy as the environment got noisier, bigger and more disciplined – with a strong reluctance to go in the morning, but we were unsure how he would settle in. We needn’t have worried. Fay is amazing with the children.

The small class setting is nurturing and familiar, and allows the children to develop as individuals – Fay would often respond to topics/activities that we had been doing at home and work on, and develop them at nursery. We went from two mornings a week to a full week within the first term as our son was enjoying his time there and wanted more.

He’s moved from there through class one (KS1) with Margaret and has now started class 2 (KS2) with Deb…and he’s continued to be a happy little boy.

When asked ‘is it school today?’, the answer ‘no’ is not met with delight, but with dismay. When it’s home time, we are often still standing outside in the garden at 5pm as he wants to stay and play with his friends. School is seen as a positive experience, not an anxious one.
The teachers follow, and deliver, the curriculum but have flexibility with the classroom to expand, develop and explore topics in greater detail. They can respond to the children’s interest and engagement and maximise the learning experience by looking at subjects across a range of activities.

No subject is withdrawn because time needs to be devoted to practising for SATs, but children are assessed and as parents we have a clear idea of how they are progressing against the learning outcomes…but without the pressure to ‘perform’.

Parents' stories

Life after Dame Catherines – how children adapt to…

We have had two children go through Dame Catherine’s Nursery and School.

It was a big decision initially to ‘step out of the box’ of sending them to the local mainstream school, to a very small independent school. But the lure of no formal testing, small class sizes, no homework, and the family orientated environment was a huge influence in our decision.

Read more “Life after Dame Catherines – how children adapt to Secondary and beyond”


Villiage Fete at Dame Catherine’s 2pm

Join us on the 23rd from 2pm at Dame Catherine Harpur’s school in Ticknall for a traditional village fete with lots of kid friendly activities and stalls.

Free, no booking necessary. All welcome.


Parents' stories

Parents’ view

I am the mother of two young boys, aged 5 and 7 who joined Dame Catherine’s School about 6 months ago. Despite the short time period, they are both flourishing at this school and have made new friends very quickly, with boys and girls of different ages. It gives me immense pleasure to see them going to school so happy and content. They are confident and secure in the knowledge that they will enjoy the teaching and get better at their work. I do not need the results of an Ofsted report to tell me DCHS is outstanding in their provision of an excellent learning environment, for any child.

Read more “Parents’ view”


Free stay and play under 5s – Tue 12,…

Join us for a free ‘play-and’stay’ session for under 5’s, Tuesday September 12, 19, 26.

Sessions running from 1.30 – 3.30pm and give you and your child the opportunity to experience our messy kitchen in the forest school area, play in the garden, dress up in the nursery or be creative at one of our activity tables.

Places are limited as we like to keep things small and friendly, so booking is essential to secure your place. Please email to book.


Summer holiday club in August

In August we run a Forest School holiday club with lots of fresh air and outdoor activities.

It’s a lot of fun and you can book for morning, afternoon or whole days for one or more days.

Keep an eye out for more details nearer the date.



End of year sleepover

Each year at the end of the Summer term we have a sleepover. Parents and kids bring tents, play the traditional game of rounders and BBQ sausages and marshmallows (with wine chasers).

In the morning we cook breakfast, pack up and say goodbye for the summer, ready to return for the new year in September.