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'Being a teacher also means continued learning', says Montessori director

Article By: Richard Howard, News Editor

Montessori learning practice continues to grow in the UK school and early years sectors, with the 150th school now confirmed as having completed its accreditation.

The achievement was recognised on Friday at the Montessori St Nicholas Charity’s Leadership Conference, taking place five years after the Montessori Accreditation and Evaluation Scheme was introduced (MEAB).

Here follows an excerpt from director of national strategies Barbara Isaac’s speech to the conference, where she speaks of the importance Montessori learning has to the future of the education sector:

director of national strategies Barbara Isaacs

“As we celebrate the accreditation of the 150th school, we are also proud to acknowledge the on-going commitment of all the schools who have engaged in the re-accreditation process. It is a fitting tribute to the scheme that all these schools wanted to remain part of the MEAB community. With the generous financial support of the Montessori St. Nicholas Charity, the MEAB board, the administrators and assessors are all committed to supporting high quality Montessori provision in the UK and abroad.

“This year’s conference will remind everyone of the importance of on-going study, as I firmly believe that being a teacher also means continued learning. To celebrate the learning of our colleagues we have invited Montessorians to present their recent research findings in the hope that they will inspire our practice and provide evidence of the value and diversity that our community brings to the Early Years and education in general.

“The research to be shared at this conference explores wide ranging perspectives, from Dawn Nasser’s closer look at the value of Montessori presentations in the context of children’s spontaneous learning, to the role of continued professional development in Montessori childminding practice as explored by Andrea Dalling and Jeremy Clarke’s reflection on the relevance of current neuroscience research for Montessori pedagogy. Kristine Largo presents her research into the marketing strategies of Montessori settings and how these enhance the overall performance of our provision, whilst Sue Briggs takes us back to children and explores their motivation and how the Montessori favourable environment nurtures it. The morning will close with a presentation from Barnado’s, who will remind us of the role they play in improving children’s lives in Britain today.

“All MEAB accredited schools belong to the Montessori School’s Association, an organisation established by the Montessori St. Nicholas Charity in 2004 to offer Montessori practitioners the opportunity to be represented within the national education forum. The MSA schools (now over 650) and their teachers and students (now over 4,000 individual members) have the opportunity to meet termly in the ten regions and discuss current policy, Montessori practice and local concerns, all of which contribute to their professional development. At a recent strategy day the MSA determined its direction for the future and Martin Bradley, the MSA National Chairman, will share with us some of the aims and objectives the MSA National Council set for themselves and the Montessori community.

“The schools that have undertaken their MEAB accreditation in the last year will celebrate their achievements when they receive their plaques and pose for a group photograph before Aric Sigman presents us with his views on the importance of ‘learning by doing’. This approach, advocated by Montessori herself over a hundred years ago, reminds us of the opportunities which open for children as they engage in exploration and active learning. I believe it is good to finish the day with an experienced research voice as I hope we will inspire everyone in the audience to engage in reflection and further study.

“It would be my hope that this conference will be the first of many such events, where we share our findings about all aspects of current Montessori practice. I would like to urge MEAB accredited schools to consider opportunities for Action Research – an on-going cycle of work-based investigation designed to promote education debate and improve learning opportunities for children attending our settings and the practitioners working with them. I believe that Montessori herself would be the first to join such a project; it is evident from her writing that she continued to grow and develop as her work with children and adults progressed throughout her long and active life.”

The Montessori learning philosophy is based on the work of Italian physician Maria Montessori, who in 1907 first practiced her ideas based upon making the most of how children interact with their environment on a psychological level.

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