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Childbase Team in fact-finding trip to Sweden

Practitioners in Childbase Partnership day nurseries believe in going the extra mile for the children in their care and proved it with a fact-finding tour of day nurseries in Sweden.

The ‘Once in a lifetime’ trip, funded by company bosses to bring new ideas and even more improvements to day nurseries throughout the South of England, was inspirational according to the ‘away team.’

“We spend a lot of time in nursery looking at what we do and how we can make it better, but immersing yourself in a different system and looking back at your work makes a huge difference,” said Jade Mead of the Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ Seabrook Day Nursery in Luton.

The four member team travelled to four different settings in Sweden, from an International school in Malmo, the country’s third largest city, to the smaller settlement, Svedala, in the South East.

Envious of the reduced levels of regulation and paperwork they found there, all loved the simplicity of provision where children play, learn and nap outside in all weathers and often in parkland and open spaces used by the general public.

“While we don’t have the same freedoms in the UK, and I wouldn’t want to lose all our marvellous resources, an even greater emphasis on natural materials or ‘real things’ clearly fuels imagination and more easily transfers from nursery to home so the learning continues,” said Emma Bloom, Team Leader at Grasshoppers Day Nursery in St. Albans.

The team described the children they met in Sweden as having a strong sense of identity and a surprising level of understanding about the outcomes they are achieving, and were impressed by practitioners looking after larger numbers of children and with so little in the way of resources.

As Stefanie Johnston, of Greengables Day Nursery in Sandhurst, explained:

“Swedish practitioners talk about the environment being another teacher and how children must be allowed to have experiences and create their own learning in natural settings; practitioners are there only to support. In a highly regulated sector it is easy to forget that we are trying to help children develop an awareness of risk and the personal skills they need to manage it.”

Mark Lowe, practitioner at the Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ Edwalton Day Nursery in Nottingham, said:

“The differences are often very subtle because we are all focused on helping children to become confident individuals and life-long learners but, for example, describing children with special educational or physical needs as those with ‘special rights’ is enormously powerful.”

“Equally, when presented with something a child has created, a UK practitioner might say, “I like it” to boost self-esteem and prepare for the conversation. In Sweden they say “What do you like about it?”

“This leads to a higher level of critical thinking and self-reflection while also building confidence as their opinion is more important than the adult’s,” he added.

The team are currently sharing their experiences in nursery and with company training experts and say the trip, which included some sight-seeing, has energised them and provided lots of new ideas for making nursery activities even more fun and interesting.