Oliver Holcroft and Rufus Gordon-Dean, ex-Army officers who between them spent 700 days battling the Taliban in Helmand Province, are at the forefront of one of London’s fastest growing trends.
The pair of former public schoolboys have set up their own preschool company, offering physical, brain-stimulating classes to children between the ages of two and six.
After founding Tarka London in 2015, they are the talk of the west London schools circuit, with a string of celebrities among hundreds of mothers rushing to sign up their children.
Inspired by the Scandinavian approach to primary education, which places exercise and coordination above classroom, blackboard-led learning, the pair have carefully devised their programme alongside health and pediatric experts.
Their approach is supported by myriad studies, including recent research published by the University of Illinois, which found that healthy children have notably larger brains by the age of 10.
Using colour co-ordinated equipment, the pair put their young kids through a series of drills designed to maximise engagement and get their neurons – which connect at a rate of 700 to 1,000 a second – firing on all cylinders.
The secret to their success, they say, is simple – and yet notably absent from the services provided by many nurseries and primary schools across the country.
“We looked closely at Scandinavia, at how the education system works in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
“Here in the UK, 90 per cent of money spent on our children’s education is invested between the ages of six and 22, and yet 90 per cent of the human brain develops between birth and the age of six. It’s a completely skewed approached.
“Children’s brains are so malleable at that age, that’s why it’s so important to focus on the basics while they’re young.
“We’re obsessed with exam results in this country, but if you look across the world, the system which works best is the model we’re trying to promote. And you have to ask why we’re not using it.”
This fits in perfectly with our thoughts and ethos around activity in education and why we’ve designed and developed the EIGER Student classroom standing desk. UK schools are now starting to introduce them into their environments to create flexible, active learning environments.