Erasmus project Italy 2019

You're probably wondering why a few of our team were missing last week?

Miss Baxter, Mrs Gilkes, Miss Esson, Miss Gillet and Miss Williams went to Italy to take part in the Erasmus project: Creative Teaching Approaches in Early Years and Pre-School Education.

It was a fantastic opportunity to reflect upon effective practices, not only for the Early Years but also further up in the school. It was good to meet and share ideas with teachers from around the UK as well as Sweden.

Based in beautiful Bologna with visits to schools in Modena and the Reggio Emilia childrens centre, we were inspired by the talented and skilled art work produced by the children from a very young age. This begins in Nursery and is developed throughout their primary education.

The education system in Italy is very different to the UK; the children do not start compulsory education until age 6 and so all education prior to this is considered as preschool.

What we noticed is that play is highly valued and recognised for being the children's 'work.' It develops their attitude to learning and prepares them for their future education through its explorative nature and opportunities for independent growth. The children embrace challenge and demonstrate great resilience. They welcomed visitors to their schools with a smile and confidently shared their learning with us. In every school there was a deep love of learning.

The creative arts are at the heart of all the schools we visited. An 'Atelier' or creative space is more than a workshop or art room. It is place where the children can express themselves, communicate their emotions and make connections with the beauty of nature whilst making sense of the world around them. The art produced by the children of ages was phenomenal, yet it was the process rather than the outcome which was valued.

It was also great to see that the key ethos of the preschools is socialisation, autonomy, Identity and understanding the world. These principles are very similar to our own Early Years curriculum, with the only difference being that this approach is continued until the age of 6, which would be year 2 in our UK system.

A strong emphasis was on how a beautiful space was necessary for wellbeing. However, it was also expressed that spending a lot of money was not necessary to create a beautiful environment. In many of the schools there was a lot of nature inside in the form of natural resources, plants and the use of natural light.

There were many aspects of the different schools we visited which we feel would compliment Bridgewater. The use of visual diaries, the exploration of self-portaits and returning to this exercise regularly to celebrate progression, painting from reality regularly, getting out in nature in all weathers and strong links to the local community.

Another aspect of the schools' learning environment was to invite an 'expert' to come and work with the children on their projects. This would range from drawing, reading, music, chess, cooking, woodwork or sewing. Incidentally, if you have a skill which you would like to share with us, please speak to a member of our team. We would love to hear from you.

Of course there was plenty to celebrate too. Meeting with many teachers from other schools and countries provided us with an opportunity to showcase all the wonderful creative approaches we already implement at Bridgewater. We look forward to blending the best aspects of both cultures and providing the best approach for our children.

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