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Professional Development in European Early Years Education
Start date: 01 Jul 2016, End date: 30 Jun 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

A recent Ofsted inspection of St. James' CEP School (November 2014) found 'Children in the early years make a good start to their education and make good progress from their low starting points.' We wish to improve our early years provision in order to ensure more than expected progress is made by children in early years. Having established networks and gained knowledge and confidence from local schools, we wish to learn from different early years provisions on an international stage, starting with provision in Italy (particularly the Reggio Emilia approach) and then learning from a Swedish approach, in order to triangulate comparisons.Our objectives are to increase the knowledge of our early years staff and senior leadership team in order to raise attainment; to evaluate current practice in our school by comparison with provision in Italy and Sweden; to improve confidence amongst less experienced early years staff with a view to growing future leaders and finally to establish links for collaborative learning projects with European schools for our early years and Key Stage 1 classes (since we currently only hold a KS2 connection with a school in Brazil).We hope to involve twelve participants: three members of the senior leadership team and nine teachers of varying experience for an initial flow in early 2017 to Italy. We hope to send a further flow of participants in early 2018 to Sweden; the same staff as the initial flow.During the courses in Italy and Sweden we hope to deepen knowledge and understanding amongst the following areas (but not limited to): an understanding of the Italian and Swedish educational systems from early years through to UK secondary level; how to ensure quality provision; regional evaluative systems; the management of early years providers; the organizational structure and the professional profiles involved in the educational process in public and private schools; documentation; outdoor education; valorization of mother tongues; parental involvement; networking with municipal and regional pedagogical coordinators ECEC; continuity between early years and primary level and creative teaching practices.We intend to send the same participants in order to ensure a rich understanding amongst our early years staff of two very different approaches to ours in early years teaching. We hope through deepening understanding over a two year period with the same staff, we will be able to trial new, best practice from an international setting with two separate cohorts in our early years, whilst also broadening the teaching practice of our staff substantially. Thanks to this, we hope the children will profit from an enriched start, serving them well as they grow older and progress through the school.We will initially attend a course in Italy on early childhood education and care, conducted by a reputable provider which has acquired a prominent position in Italy in the field of EU projects on early childhood education. We also chose this provider due to the clear connection of southern and northern Europe partner contacts and because this network already has experience in this area, currently leading an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership on “Enhancing quality in early childhood education and care through participation”. We are also excited by the opportunities to acquire new contacts and develop new projects in cooperation with the other members of the network.We will then attend a similar course in Sweden to be run by our link region Jarfalla municipality who have hosted similar course for Southwark in the past. This will allow us to then conduct a thorough and structured evaluative process following the two year project in which findings will be reported to all key stakeholders (governors, staff and parents).Early years staff's knowledge of teaching practice will have broadened and they will have gained confidence; teaching will have improved. Collaborative learning projects with EU partner schools visited as part of the courses will have been established. All adults involved in early years education at St. James' will have a broader knowledge of provision and our school development plan will have been reviewed and amended accordingly.Potential longer term benefits include the children at St. James' making more than expected progress throughout their primary school career, creating new knowledge within our school, but also disseminating international best practice amongst existing networks our school already has with other local providers.
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