We’ve been getting to know Lindie Louw, Head of Hazelwood School

Hazelwood School is a coeducational Nursery and Prep School set amongst 25 acres of woodlands on the Surrey Kent border. We enjoyed hearing about their forward-thinking approach.

What led you to work in education?
I spent my childhood in South Africa playing the piano, singing or pretending to teach – I would annotate music for my imaginary pupils. And so my love of music led me to education but Hazelwood is the place that really inspired me, it’s where I fell in love with teaching. It opened my eyes to the wonder of working with this age group where we have children in our care for this magical window.
When I first arrived here and stood in the chapel and looked out at the view I thought, this is a beautiful place to learn and a wonderful place to teach. Years later, I read the diary of one of the founders of the school and they’d expressed exactly the same sentiment. This really is a special and inspiring place.

How do you view your role?
My focus is to do right by the young people in our care, to inspire them and also to keep abreast of the latest in education, to stay innovative. We’re a down-to-earth school – in a lovely countryside setting – but we dream big for our children. At Hazelwood we see education through a very modern lens whilst still paying heed to tradition. One of the many joys of my role is having the scope to undertake in-depth research and ensure we keep up to date with advances to equip our children for the future.
I think it’s incredibly important to be ambitious for the children in this sector. Research shows that we can have a huge impact on their thinking and approach to learning at this age, which lasts a lifetime. Our students will need to be able to adapt to change and so we’re teaching the skills now that will equip them to make the most of opportunities throughout their lives in an ever-changing fast-paced world. It’s vital we instil values of respect, critical thinking and compassion, to help them become the positive changemakers needed in today’s society. This coupled with the rise of AI will increase the need for ‘human centred’ skills such as creativity, empathy, strong communication skills and problem-solving – all of which will be vital alongside good exam results.
In my opinion, young people today are far better at understanding their place in the world than we are as adults.

“At Hazelwood we see education through a very modern lens, whilst still paying heed to tradition.”

What’s new at Hazelwood?
In 2018, drawing on our research, we created the BOX – an adaptable learning space enabled for digital learning. It’s been such a huge success with the children that we’re now extending the concept and opening new dynamic, flexible learning spaces to encourage our children to learn in the way that is most effective for them, to stimulate them and encourage curiosity. The classrooms will accommodate collaborative working and independent learning. There will be moveable furniture, living walls, quiet spaces, plus the latest in education-related technology. Also inspired by feedback from our children, we’re extending our Electives Programme for our Years 7 & 8 and so Friday afternoons will be devoted to the pursuit of a wide range of enrichment subjects such as forensic science, fashion design, food tech, debating, graphics and life-saving – to name but a few. It’s a wonderful way to help them make connections across the curriculum and discover new passions.
We have also just launched our fabulous new website which is a great source of information about all things Hazelwood.

How do you prioritise wellbeing at Hazelwood?
We pride ourselves on our warm and nurturing environment and our promotion of looking after one another and those in the wider community – our children are global citizens. We’ve implemented a comprehensive programme which involves the entire school community; wellbeing is woven throughout the fabric of our school life. We hold dedicated Wellbeing Days when pupils and staff alike can choose from a variety of activities which promote mental health such as animal petting, Reiki massage, crafting, sports, board games and plenty besides. We also have trained mental health first aiders to give pupils support when needed and also tools to manage their own wellbeing. Our online Wellbeing Hub can be accessed by staff, parents and pupils aged 10 and above and is a fabulous resource full of tools, links and signposts to experts.
This term we celebrated ‘The Power of Me’ which encouraged the children to identify and celebrate the uniqueness of everyone. Throughout the term they had opportunities to showcase their particular strengths and dreams and champion those of one another. It was really wonderful to see the impact on them all.

To find out more about Hazelwood School at
hazelwoodschool.co.uk

Great Expectations

Mike Piercy, education consultant and former Head of The New Beacon, gives his opinion on tutoring There’s nothing wrong with ambition; indeed it is to be praised. Encouragement of ambition is inherent in parenthood and teaching.I have something of a...

Creative Thinking

Online educators, Technology Triumphs, talk us through their approach “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all,” – Edward De Bono, the originator of the term lateral thinking.Despite this, creative pursuits have been seemingly...

5 Top Tips to get exam ready

Help your child navigate exam season with help from the experts It is no secret that, for some students, the exam season represents a stressful time. Antony Nesling and Beverley Bloem, Diploma Coordinator and High School Counsellor at ACS International...