Sheema Parsons (centre) with parents – actor Stephen Mangan (left) and Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chada (right) – with children at the St Mark’s Square nursery
Published: 27 June, 2013
by PAVAN AMARA
THE founder of a Primrose Hill nursery has been praised by education secretary Michael Gove, for incorporating baby yoga into the curriculum, writes Pavan Amara.
Sheema Parsons also started teaching martial arts and tree planting to children at her St Mark’s Square nursery.
Ms Parsons founded the nursery in 1983 with her late husband Bruce, and has now been rewarded with an OBE on the school’s 30th anniversary.
A Sunday afternoon celebration at St Mark’s Church invited dozens of previous pupils.
Ms Parsons said: “Some of the methods we use to teach were alternative, some thought they were very controversial in the early 1980s, some people still think that. But I received a letter on Friday morning from Michael Gove, and that proves to me that the education system is finally coming round to my thinking.
“I never wanted recognition or to open a chain of nurseries, even though I was approached. I had a clear vision to treat the children as individuals, and develop their full potential at their own pace.
"I still remember the names of the children I played with in 1983 on the first day. I’ll never forget a child. The nursery is like John Lewis, we have never knowingly undersold.”
Ms Parsons’ brother Moaiz Daya had flown in from his home in the United States for the day.
Film director Gurinder Chadha, who rose to fame with hits like Bend It Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice, filmed the event on her mobile phone.
“My two children were at the nursery,” she said. “The things they would come back and tell me were wonderful, it was a place they were happy and that meant I was happy.
"I had to film it, even if it was just on a small camera. It’s a big occasion for everyone in the St Mark’s nursery family.”
Ex-pupil Lucinda Walker said: “We didn’t say ‘hello’ or ‘oh my goodness’, every day was ‘bonjour’ or ‘Masha’Allah’.
The nursery was a treasure trove for our natural curiosity, when I think about the memories there is a strong sense of magic there.”