Erick is the headteacher at Spurgeons Academy. He started his role there in April 2019, having previously gained specialist knowledge in working with children from dysfunctional backgrounds and additional needs. His subject area is Maths, so he keeps his hand in by teaching that for grades 7 and 8.
As headteacher of a school with so many vulnerable students and families, he sees his role, and the role of the school as being more about care-giving than teaching, and caring for the needs of the children first. After this the teaching knowledge can come, but only once the children feel comfortable and safe.
Erick faces many challenges in his role, both personal and institutional:
1. Adapting to the local environment which can often be muddy and cold,
2. He lives the other side of Nairobi so he has a long commute which he is trying to appreciate
3. Insufficient finance which has an impact on the staff and their motivation. Erick is trying to solve that a little by providing lunch for the staff so that they don’t have to worry about that money.
Spurgeons is financed purely by donors and well-wishers through Global Care International and CRED Foundation. They get nothing from the government although they do get tax concessions and don’t pay tax. However, there is so much extra that the school has to pay for, and in some cases this is through donations from the staff. For example exam papers, water, repairs.
About one quarter of the pupils, who have both parents, do pay some subsidised school fees which helps with cash flow, but it’s not enough and it’s very unreliable. to pay for exam papers. Subsidised school fees (from about a quarter of the pupils with both parents) goes towards petty cash- cleaning, water, painting, repairs but very unreliable and not enough.
When considering the future, Erick says “space is the main issue. It is too limited and without more space we can’t expand our work. I’d love to see a residential option for those that really need it, such as those with irresponsible parents, those who experience death/separation and those who would otherwise drop out of school from moving away. But without more space I don’t see how this can happen.
Spurgeons is unique because it focuses on the needs of the children first and then on learning. That is why so many of the children grow up so well, despite their backgrounds. It’s a great place to be.