Welcome to our summer newsletter

Introduction

Welcome to our summer 2019 newsletter!

Since our last update we have been continuing to support and fund research and projects to promote Froebelian principles for the education and care of children up to the age of eight.

Froebel Trust Conference

In March this year we held our inaugural conference, The Froebel Trust: Stories from Research and Practice, which brought together projects and research that have received funding from the Trust.

Over 20 speakers, including researchers, PhD students, practitioners and academics, travelled from all over the UK, continental Europe, South Africa and Australia to deliver seminars and workshops to more than 100 delegates.

We had an overwhelmingly positive response from delegates who attended the day;

‘Reaffirmed my own beliefs. Reassuring to hear passionate and knowledgeable practitioners. Encouraging to know that many there are working to influence change in early years practice.’

'The day was inspiring and uplifting with the opportunity to engage with others to celebrate Froebel principles and philosophies in the modern day. We were able to see these in action supported with thinking from academic questioning’

We would like to thank all our trustees, keynote speakers and presenters who helped to make the day such a success.

Froebel Short Courses

In 2017 the Trust launched its unique modular Froebel course delivered around England by experienced peripatetic trainers who are endorsed by The Trust. The course aims to promote Froebelian knowledge, heighten commitment to Froebelian ideas and change the way practitioners work with children.

The course is made up of five Elements which include a mandatory two-day introductory Element, and a series of four optional Elements.

We have had wonderful feedback from participants in the course, including:

“Just wonderful! A very inspiring day and real experiences to take back to our children. Look forward to the next session.”

“An inspirational afternoon with colleagues evaluating practice and considering next steps for early years learners. Lots to take back to staff, thank you”

“A very thought-provoking day, making you reflect on your practice and thinking. Has helped me to focus more on ensuring childhood is the most important time that should not be rushed. Excellent day.”

To date over 300 participants have attended the courses, with several settings working towards training staff in all 5 elements. Click here to read a blog by one recent participant.

The Trust is pleased to have increased the total amount of funding available for bursaries for the course in 2019, to enable a greater number of settings and early years practitioners to undertake the training. To find out more about the course and details on our bursaries, please visit:

www.early-education.org.uk/froebel

Grant Spotlight – Liz Chesworth, University of Sheffield

Understanding practitioners’ curriculum decision-making to support complexity in children’s play in a multi-diverse pre-school setting

This research aimed to investigate how practitioners understood complexity in play to inform their curriculum decision-making and pedagogical approaches in a multi-diverse nursery setting.

Drawing upon Froebelian principles and the concepts of Funds of Knowledge (Moll et al 1992), children’s interests and working theories, we explored the connections between home and nursery cultures within the lives of ten children, aged three and four years. Through analysis of 125 episodes of play and a series of reflective dialogues with parents and practitioners, the findings indicate that complexity in play was characterised by a bricolage of experiences and interests that children brought into the nursery.

These experiences highlighted the everyday learning associated with children’s multi-lingual repertoires and their participation in diverse family practices. The children frequently reconstructed familiar household activities in their play; however, play also provided a space for children to explore new ideas and to draw upon alternative sources of knowledge, including popular culture.

Consequently, our findings indicate that children were actively constructing culture and that sociocultural practices are diverse and dynamic. By contrast, the English Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) reflects a linear model of learning associated with progression towards the Early Learning Goals. This sometimes limited practitioners’ capacity to build upon the potential of play that was illuminated in the research. As such, we argue that the assessment and monitoring practices in the EYFS constitute a limiting definition of play which does not sit comfortably with Froebelian principles of interconnectedness, wholeness and unity.

The research has created opportunities for reflective dialogue between children, practitioners and parents, enabling us to think about play in ways that extend beyond policy notions of curriculum.

We argue, therefore, that Funds of Knowledge, working theories and interests offer potential to inform a Froebelian approach to curriculum that embraces the multiple meanings that children explore in their play.

Grants rounds 2019

This year we will again be offering two PhD bursaries, funding for Innovation Grants, Practitioner Support Grants and Open Call Research Grants. In addition, we have issued an Invitation to Tender for a Literature Review and keep an eye out for an exciting call for Expressions of Interest for a Froebelian ‘Hub and Spoke’ initiative, due to launch in late summer. Details can be found on our website along with information about bursaries for training.

Edinburgh Froebel Network Conference 21st September 2019

Froebel: Gifts for our future 11, Looking Inwards, Looking Outwards, Looking Forwards

The Edinburgh Froebel Network conference, sponsored by the Froebel Trust will be held on 21st September 2019 at the University of Edinburgh.

Places are limited to 300, so please book early to avoid disappointment. For further information and to download a booking form, please visit: http://edinburghfroebelnetwork.org.uk/

EYFS Evidence Review

Joining a consortium of Early Years organisations led by Early Education, the Trust is supporting and contributing to a rapid evidence assessment directed by Professor Chris Pascal (CREC). The report will be launched in September and is intended to fulfil a similar function to the Tickell Review of 2011.

Froebel Trust Lecture 2019

Our 2019 lecture will take place in the autumn, and we are delighted to welcome John Carnochan as this year’s speaker. John is a former Detective Chief Superintendent with Strathclyde Police, who established the violence reduction unit in Scotland and talks about the importance of children’s experience in early years in reducing levels of violence later in life. The lecture will be filmed, and available to view on our website later this year.

Twilight Seminar Series 2019

We will be launching a series of twilight seminars around the country at the end of this year.

The seminars will be an opportunity for our grant recipients based throughout the UK to discuss and disseminate their research or share practice locally.

We will send out details on upcoming seminars via social media, our mailing list and on our website.

Congratulations - Jane Whinnett MBE

The Trust would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Jane Whinnett on being awarded an MBE in the Queen's 2019 New Year’s Honours list for her Services to Early Childhood Education.

Jane joined our board of Trustees in 2014 and is currently Chair of the Education Sub Committee.

Jane is the head teacher of two local authority nursery schools in Edinburgh, a founder member of the Edinburgh Froebel Network, a tutor on the Froebel in Childhood Practice Course at the University of Edinburgh, and an award winning author! She has also been instrumental in the launch of the MSc Education (Early Childhood Practice and Froebel), a new Pathway Degree at the University of Edinburgh, which welcomes its first intake of students in September, with bursaries provided by the Froebel Trust.

To add to her list of achievements, Jane is also one of the organisers of the annual Froebel Conference in Edinburgh, which is now in its eleventh year; gives presentations and seminars both locally and internationally and is an expert in Froebelian Practice.

Practitioner Support Grants

Last year we introduced a new Practitioner Support Grant Programme designed to enhance and share the expertise of experienced Froebelians. Six small grants were awarded to early years settings and examples of their reports show the difference that these grants have made.

Woodwork at Wester Coates Nursery School

‘As an extension to our Froebelian approach the introduction of woodwork has been amazing!  We knew the 'activity' would attract attention, provide fun and process - if not polished finished results - but we had not anticipated the depth of engagement and learning that the children would develop so very quickly; nor the positive impact it would have all round’.

Ludwick Nursery School – Parent Partnership Project

The Froebel training delivered to the staff, led to lots of positive discussion around how we engage with our parents and helped us to consider what we were doing for all families and what additional engagement and support some families might need. We drew upon key Froebelian Principles to frame our discussion, e.g. thinking about how we work in a respectful way with our families and how we develop connections such as helping connect children’s learning between home and school’.

Annan School – Development of the use of Froebelian Gifts and Occupations

Annan School was awarded a Grant to develop training in Froebelian Occupations.

Staff were trained in Woodwork, Clay, loose parts and Froebelian occupations such as building gifts, weaving, pricking and paper folding.

To share their knowledge, Annan School ran a Practitioner Training Day on A Froebel Approach to Creativity. It was attended by 40 practitioners including 10 students from the Froebel Certificate course at Roehampton University. As part of the training day they ran workshops on the occupations including clay, woodwork and loose parts outdoors.

Social Media and Blogs

One of the aims of the Trust is to raise awareness of the Froebelian approach to a wider audience. The Trust has started a series of blogs aimed at parents and carers using targeted ads via a social media platform. The blogs highlight Froebelian ideas which are as relatable for parents and carers now as they were in the 19th Century. These include risk taking, outdoor play and singing with babies and children. The blogs link to resources on our website, which are free to access and download.

Our first two blogs about ‘Outdoor Play’ and ‘Singing with young children’ are on our Facebook page.

You can visit our Facebook page @the Froebel Trust and follow us on Twitter @froebeltrust so please do like and share our posts!

Pamphlet Series

We are excited to announce that we will be publishing the latest titles in our pamphlet series in the autumn: Song, Rhymes and Finger plays, and Cooking. The pamphlets will be available to download from our website, and printed copies will also be available to purchase.

The Wellcome Collection

The Froebel Archive has agreed to loan one of the Froebel Trust’s artefacts to The Wellcome Collection for inclusion in their forthcoming exhibition “Playing Out”, which runs from 24th October 2019 to 8th March 2020. The exhibition will include a section on the importance of manual skills for developing creative confidence and a specific request was made for the loan of an item created by Froebel himself. A Framed Pricker Drawing by Froebel was chosen (donated to the Froebel Society by Henrica Reitz in 1950).

The exhibition looks at the importance of play, both in childhood and society at large. It begins with a historical section looking back at those who argued for play and creative forms of education at a time when the norm was to learn by rote. Froebel will be a central figure, finding echoes throughout the exhibition.

Items loaned to the exhibition will show the vital influence of Froebel and Kindergarten on early years education in Britain.

If you would like more information about any of the above projects or about the work that we do, please visit our website: www.froebeltrust.org.uk.

 

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