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A nursery headteacher, who takes the children on regular trips to art galleries and museums and set up one of the first nurseries to teach French, martial arts and the violin, has been awarded an OBE.
St Mark’s Square Nursery in Primrose Hill, London, favoured by celebrity parents such as Noel Gallagher, Kate Winslet and Stephen Mangan, was set up by Sheema Parsons and her husband Bruce in 1983.
Mrs Parsons was awarded the OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to early years education.
Pupils at the nursery school, which was rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted, follow a rich curriculum, including cultural trips as well as yoga and meditation to help them learn and explore.
Mrs Parsons, said: “The value and desirability of nursery education is now widely recognised. At St. Mark's, our philosophy is to combine the best aspects of the ‘skills and discipline’ approach usually associated with the private sector and the ‘child centred, progressive and caring’ approach usually associated with the public sector.
“We believe that children in the pre-school age group have a far greater desire and capacity to learn basic educational skills than has been generally acknowledged and our aim is to give our children a crucial head start in whichever sector their education is to be continued.”
The school is situated on the edge of Regents Park in St. Mark's Church, St. Mark's Square London Zoo and Regents Park Canal and the park are nearby.
Ofsted report on the content of the education programme noted: ‘Mathematics language is embedded into everyday experiences with good opportunities for children to apply their knowledge - the programme supports the use of number rhymes and stories to reinforce mathematical language and ideas.
‘The programmes for knowledge and understanding of the world is sound and a strength of the nursery. Children have many informal and formal opportunities to talk about themselves and photographs show work on a tree of life.’