A ‘boutique’ independent preparatory school opened its doors this month, offering pupils lessons in everything from fencing to French.
For Jane Subachus it was a ‘dream come true’ when the first reception class pupils (ages four and five) arrived at Market Square Preparatory School, based in Manannan House, in Market Square, Castletown.
Jane opened a pre-school there in January and that has now grown to 50 youngsters.
She plans to slowly build up the number of school classes by introducing a new year each September.
‘I’m so excited,’ Jane said.
‘Not often do you get your dream come true.’
While spending time living in New Zealand, she was particularly inspired by the way schools were run there, which she said meant children found it more fun and challenging.
She said she was impressed by the way her two boys were always keen to go to school.
When she returned to the island, she said it was ‘now or never time’ with her idea.
The pre-school was opened first and Jane said the school grew from there.
‘Some mums of children in the pre-school had half joked they wished they could stay.
‘I thought “why not?”,’ she said.’
Jane explained: ‘We want to offer pupils everything we can to give them a broad education.’
Accordingly, children are introduced to French and Spanish while they are in the pre-school.
And in the reception class, they learn the piano, fencing, and dancing.
One aspect that sets the school apart is that children follow the International Primary Curriculum.
Jane said: ‘It doesn’t have a teacher at the front, teaching. It involves the whole class.
‘It’s their own discovery, with the aid of a teacher. That way they get the greatest satisfaction out of learning.’
She said that Market Square Preparatory School wasn’t set up as a rival to the nearby Buchan School.
‘We’re something different,’ she said. We’re tiny, we have a maximum class size of 10 and we’re not going to exceed that.’
She said a benefit of small class sizes would enable more one to one time with pupils where necessary, and each child had an individual attainment level.
There is no outside space at Market Square Preparatory School. But Jane didn’t see this as presenting a problem: ‘It doesn’t prevent us challenging every sport the Isle of Man had to offer.’
She said the school would make use of the local amenities on offer – from using the sports facilities at the National Sports Centre to rambling in the island’s hills.
Jane is currently choosing a second site which would house the ‘main’ school, for pupils aged five to 11.
It’s hoped that it will open in September next year.
‘There are viewings every week for the school,’ she said.
‘If we’d had the bigger building I think we would have filled four classes with older children.
‘But we are going to learn to walk before we run so we make it the best we can make it.’
She said inspections by schools watchdog Ofsted will ensure standards are always high.
Jane gained the National Nursery Examination Board diploma in childcare qualification when she was 18.
She previously owned a private nursery from 1996 to 2006, when she sold it to move to New Zealand.
For details about enrolment at Market Square Preparatory School call 824940.