BIEA conducts inaugural overseas study tour

At the start of August, BIEA ran its inaugural overseas study tour for a group of 11 visiting EYFS professionals from China. The group consisted of nursery teachers, principals and investors, all looking to increase their understanding of British EYFS practice.

After landing and having a day to relax in London the group started off with a session at Kintore Way Nursery in South London in which Rebecca Sherwood welcomed the group and gave them a detailed rundown of how modern British nurseries operated and allowed the group a look at how a small – from a Chinese perspective – modern nursery operates.

The following day the group remained in South London, visiting First Place Nursery to take part in an EYFS workshop by education expert Karen Pereira. The group was taken through important concepts such as the role of the ‘key person’ in nursery environments as well as advanced topics like cohort data tracking which was of particular interest to the group as some had interests across several institutions across China. This was followed by a tour of the building by one of the staff to give the group a deeper insight into the running of the nursery.

The group followed the route of the students through the school, starting in the purpose-built nursery space and then graduating through the classes and finishing in the school’s impressive communal areas.  The group then stopped for a photo opportunity at the historic Kent College senior school.

At Ashford school, the group was shown around by Sue Yates and shown the variety of activities that children in this expansive nursery could do. They toured grounds and listened while staff explained how they wanted to encourage independent and confident children. The group was particularly interested in some of the specialist equipment that the nursery was using and were keen to find out more.

 

Day four was back in London where the group visited three nurseries. The first was Snowflakes Nursery in North West London which was a diverse and lively environment. Group members and BIEA staff got the chance to get messy, playing with cornmeal to investigate how densities changed. The staff guided the group through the Montessori system which they were then keen to learn more about. The second stop of the day, the Grange Montessori Nursery, also used the same system, and impressed the group with its facilities: even very young children were taught practical skills such as how to tie shoes and to eat with cutlery alongside EYFS and Montessori development. The group was lucky enough to stay and observe the children at lunch and see what a typical nursery offered children to eat, in this case, lamb, pasta and melon.

The day finished with a trip to the Archway Children’s Centre which made an impression due to its large, clean and art-gallery like building. As a council funded facility, the staff were keen to show how the space was used by children from the local community and let the group explore its jaw-dropping garden, complete with a chicken coop and a waterfall. The centre runs its own forest school program which was something that the visiting teachers were very interested to learn more about and possibly develop in China. The group also saw the children’s art which is displayed around the walls in a simple but professional way. The day finished with BIEA Chairwoman Nikki Collins giving out transcript certificates and BIEA’s Alex Zhang giving a presentation about the BIEA e-league program.

The final day of the tour consisted of a trip to Bath to visit Norland College, the training centre of the world’s most well-regarded nannies and the only school in the UK to offer a solely EYFS related degree. The group was greeted by the vice principle Mandy Donaldson who took them through how the college worked and why it was so well regarded that even members of the royal family used their nannies. The group was interested in how the college worked and the international spread of its students. Lecturer Elizabeth Kerry filled in the history of the college and gave a tour of the cutting-edge facility to the group before signing the BIEA banner alone with all the teachers. The group then finished the day with an exploration of the beautiful city of Bath before heading back to London.

We look forward to organising an even bigger study tour in 2019 and hope it has allowed our teachers to spread British EYFS practice into their own schools.