20 questions: Tim Longman of The Firs School

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Tim Longman is Director of The Firs School

pic: Tim Longman

1. Describe your typical day – I have 4 children so the day starts with a bang as my wife Jo and I help get everyone ready for school. Once they are on their way I head to work on my bike and arrive at School ready for the day. The beauty of my job is that no two days are the same. I work on the business side of the school and our wonderful headteacher and staff manage the operational side of educating and nurturing the children in our care. My job involves ensuring the stage is set so they can do the best possible job they can. I love to get involved however and would describe myself as a very hands-on proprietor. I run 3 or 4 extra-curricular clubs, all with a strong focus on computing or programming and I have done a Chess club. I enjoy meeting the children and parents and try wherever possible to get out of the office to keep in contact with staff, children and parents.

2. Tell us about the history of the school – The school was established by my Grandmother in 1945 in a house in Abbey Square. My mother and father took over in the late 80s and then Jo and I joined in 2007. The school has a long tradition of nurture and care and the family involvement in the school means we have a passion and determination to ensure we maintain the quality of education that The Firs Prep School is well known for whilst also ensuring we foster a love of learning in our children. My Dad tells the story really well on a YouTube video you can find here https://www.firsschool.net/history/

3. What is your favourite place in Chester ? During the lockdowns we have enjoyed walking in Chester, along the river and also regularly in the Countess Country park. We “discovered” the abandoned Mollington golf course last year and would love to see it formally incorporated into the Country Park. I also love to visit Storyhouse and am looking forward to heading to the restaurants again once we are able.

4. How much has the pandemic impacted education ? The impact of the pandemic will be significant and some yet to be discovered is my feeling. We were delighted to be able to maintain face to face teaching throughout and our Head Teacher and staff were incredible as they adapted and worked tirelessly to ensure we offered the very best access to teaching throughout. Fortunately, we had moved to the Google platform in Jan 2009 due to my interest in technology and we were well placed for remote learning.

Children have experienced significant periods of isolation from their friends and even on the return to school they have operated within class bubbles and this will inevitably impact on their social and emotional wellbeing. We have a newly appointed learning mentor at The Firs whose role is to support children emotionally and promote a positive mental mindset. As restrictions ease we are beginning to see some of our bubbles join back up and children starting to mix more freely. This has been so positive for everyone and our focus is now upon building our united community back together again!

5. How have you coped (personally) with lockdowns ? I was working throughout the lockdown as we navigated the challenges of ensuring we provided provision for all of the children and managed the opening and closing of the school and the complexities of running during the pandemic. Personally I continued relatively normally, I tried to remain at home for the first part of the morning to support my wife with the home schooling and then come into the school in the afternoon. Life certainly slowed down and as a family we have certainly gained an appreciation of the more simple aspects of life. Family walks, a slower pace of life and a good coffee took on new levels of joy during the pandemic.

6. Who/ what inspired you in life? William Gladstone and my father.

7. What do you do to relax ? – I love to bike and get out in the fresh air. Walking, running, surfing and generally enjoying the countryside with my family makes me happy! I am also learning piano with our excellent school piano teacher Will Hay. I proudly passed grade 2 last December!

8. What is your philosophy about life ? If you want to change the outcomes you need to change the system. As a graduate engineer Peter Senge’s book was very influential.

9. If you could time travel, where/when would you go ? I have been fortunate to travel a lot in previous years but one place I would love to visit is the Galapagos Islands. If I could time travel I would go back to 2007 and get the school IT suite mining bit-coin!!

10. .Which person, living or dead would you take for an independent coffee or drink – Charles Darwin, also wouldn’t mind a coffee with Jesus Christ!

11. What was the last film you saw and was it any good – Parasite – a worthy Oscar winner!

12. What would you sing on karaoke night ? Beatles ‘My Life’ (and i would try and accompany myself on piano!)

13. What would you change about Chester if you could ? A direct express train link from Chester to Manchester Airport of 25 minutes stopping off in Manchester city centre shortly afterwards. And a world class Roman museum (equivalent to Jorvik in York) incorporating the amphitheatre. Chester was crowned the UKs most Roman city and we don’t make enough of it. Our Minecraft programming club has made a great model! (See picture)

14. Who would play you in the movie of your life ? My wife wishes it would be George Clooney – but personally I think I have more of a resemblance to Louis Theroux and I love to ask questions!!

15. How do you see Chester and its recovery after the pandemic ? I love Chester and am so glad that we settled here. We previously lived in London and Paris and can’t think of anywhere we would rather be now with a family than here! I am excited about the new Northgate development and how that will impact upon the city. I would love to see a few of the empty shops open again but think that Chester has so much to offer and will always be a gem in the heart of the northwest.

16. Name a famous person you have met ? The best I can do is Kier Starmer – I generally let the celebs take care of themselves!

17. What do you enjoy about your job ? The chance to make a difference to the families and staff we come into contact with. We aim to provide something unique at The Firs and watching our school operate as a caring, united community striving to educate young children is wonderful. It also gives me a lot of flexibility and no days are the same.

18. What annoys you about the world ? Don’t get me started!

19. What advice would you give to your younger self ? Take more risks.

20. Are we alone in the universe? No

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