Embedding Froebelian Principles in a Progressive Play Pedagogy

Project author:

Project summary:

An exploration of the “reach” of Froebelian principles up to the early stages of Primary.

 

 

Introduction

This project focuses on our knowledge and understanding of Froebelian principles and practice, and the interactions and progressive experiences offered to our children as they transition from our ELC Class to the early stages of our Primary School.

It works towards formalising our shared vision for our children through the creation of a collectively agreed Pedagogical Charter, underpinned by Froebelian principles and practice.

As staff changes are made, a consistent approach will be maintained allowing ELC staff to continue to share best practice with their teaching colleagues, whilst also maintaining a strong link between our ELC Class and school community.

 

 

Context

Within our setting, we have been on a journey for a number of years now, focusing on progression from our ELC Class to P1 and embedding play-based pedagogy in the early stages of our Primary School. The work of class teachers has long been effectively supported by our ELC Class’ Early Years Officers, some of whom (both Class Teachers and Early Years Officers) have previously completed the Froebel in Childhood Practice training, and all of whom appeared to share the same vision and values in their practice.

We continue to recognise that the ever-changing situation regarding staffing in our ELC Class and Primary School, as well as other factors out-with our control such as two interrupted years due to COVID-19, has led to children’s experiences of play-based pedagogy varying across and within our ELC Class and early primary setting.

We set out to work with our whole staff team across the ELC Class and early stages of primary to collectively agree our Pedagogical Charter, influenced by the principles and practice of Froebel, and ensure all children progressing from our ELC Class to our Primary School experienced consistency in their experiences and the approaches we use.

Methodology

Our ELC Class staff team grew following our 1140 hours expansion, and our early primary staff moved and changed roles, therefore we used a staff questionnaire to gauge their views and understanding of Froebelian practice at the beginning of the project.

A parents’ questionnaire to evaluate how they view play-based learning in the ELC Class and primary school setting was devised using the Froebelian Principles poster and also issued digitally to all parents. This ensured the views of all stakeholders were sought and that the agreement and creation of our Pedagogical Charter demonstrated a shared vision and understanding. 

Informal feedback regarding the progress was given to staff members during the project at CAT sessions and staff meetings.

On completion of the project, an academic leaflet will be shared with all staff involved in the project and displayed in our ELC Class. Information about the outcome and completion of project will be shared with parents and carers in the form of a SWAY using appropriate language suitable to our audience.

Our agreed Pedagogical Charter document will be formalised in written form and added to our Teaching and Learning Policy for St Andrew’s Primary School and ELC Class.

“I really love the way… practitioners focus on and encourage learning through play… She has developed… her relationships through following her interests and with the encouragement and support of her teachers. I really feel like it is an environment that is cultivated to support her to thrive.”

Parental Feedback

Findings

At the beginning of our project, consultation with the staff highlighted that almost everyone felt confident or somewhat confident in explaining their interpretation of ‘Froebelian Practice’. A few staff members reported that they felt ‘not confident’ in explaining. At the same time, almost all staff reported that they felt confident or somewhat confident that Froebelian principles underpinned their own practice, with a few staff reporting that they did not feel confident. We thn explored the general values and principles that underpin the practice of staff and their ‘view of the child’ before further examining Froebelian principles and practice – to support them in making the connection between their own values and principles and that of Froebel. The staff team agreed that they shared the same Froebelian principles, however, had not necessarily made the connection between themselves and that of Froebelian practice.

We worked to agree our overarching pedagogical statement, summarising our shared approach to play-based learning, evidencing our view that play-based learning is of central importance to children’s development, and that children will be supported to learn through their own self-activity by knowledgeable and skilled adults. This formed the foundation of our agreed Pedagogical Charter. We also worked to discuss and agree our main drivers in relation to four key areas: interactions, experiences, environment and assessment. It was evident that all, again, shared the same underpinning Froebelian principles in relation to children’s progressive experiences.

Of all parents / carers sent the questionnaire, 32 responded. The feedback reflected a shared view and agreement that play was centrally important, children were valued as individuals and effectively supported in their holistic development, staff effectively supported children’s learning and development at an appropriate pace through observation, supporting and extending learning and that the staff and other children are a significant part of their child’s life, each with a rating of more than 9 out of 10. Asked whether they feel there is a link between their family and the school that forms part of their community, an average rating of 8.03 out of 10 was given. This was not an alarming result, however, given that our children and families have experienced two interrupted and unusual years and is a factor that will support us in developing ways of welcoming our families and wider community back into our settings again as restrictions ease.

Conclusion

This project evidenced our understanding that Froebelian principles and practice influence and underpin the pedagogy of all our ELC and early primary staff and are evident in the creation of our Pedagogical Charter.

Our families share our view that play is of central importance to children’s learning and development, and that view has been shaped and nurtured by their experiences within our ELC Class and as their children transition to the early stages of Primary School.

As we continue to move forward, we will continue to reinforce these principles across both settings ensuring children experience a consistent, progressive approach.

 

 

 

 

Research implications

Our whole school and ELC Class will benefit from our engagement in this research project as, ultimately, it will formalise what we expect for our children with the creation of our collectively agreed Pedagogical Charter.

Our teaching staff are now more aware of what Froebelian practice is and how they can use this to strengthen the foundation laid by the ELC team. Our Senior Leadership Team are now more confident that when staff changes are made that a consistent, pedagogical approach will be maintained. Our ELC staff continue to share best practice with their teaching colleagues and will continue to build on their own knowledge and skills development.

Across our settings, a stronger link between our ELC class and School community has been created, sharing skills, training and practice. The children continue to build on the positive learning experiences that they have had within our ELC class.

This project has resulted in the creation of a shared, progressive pedagogical charter which has been agreed by all staff currently working in ELC Class and early stages of primary school. Our Pedagogical charter will be shared with wider staff team within the school, taking account of staff movement between stages each academic year.

It will also be incorporated into our school ‘Teaching and Learning Policy’ and induction information shared with our new children and families when they join us.

Our Pedagogical Charter will also allow for more effective self-evaluation and quality assurance, ensuring staff continually reflect on our agreed pedagogical approaches.

In terms of our staffing resourcing, we will continue to ensure we maintain the link between the ELC Class and early stages of primary school, enabling an EYO to work alongside the teaching staff in primary 1 and 2.

We will also continue to ensure school staff are available for transition visits within the ELC Class setting to maintain the consistent pedagogical approach across the settings.

This research project has allowed staff to secure Froebelian principles as our preferred pedagogical approach and share this with our wider staff and senior management team, particularly those not directly working in the ELC Class or early stages of primary school.

In sharing our research with the wider Froebelian network, we may inspire others to formally agree and embed Froebelian principles and practice as their chosen progressive pedagogy across their ELC Class and in to the early stages of primary school, especially during a time when there is such focus on the importance of play-based learning for our youngest school children.

Practitioner enquiry

Practitioner research is an important part of the improvement process, and allows practitioners to explore in detail and reflect on their area for improvement or change idea. In engaging with this process, practitioners are able to keep their practice current and relevant within their setting.

Within our setting, we have begun to look at practitioner enquiry as part of our routine process for self-evaluation and self-improvement, allowing time for staff to work collaboratively to explore areas for improvement and try out small tests of change within the setting.

As we move forward, we will continue to support our wider staff team to engage in practitioner-research within our own setting, and encourage practitioners to work collaboratively with others who are also able to support this through any CPD opportunities available to them.

Leadership learning

Engaging in this process has been beneficial in allowing me work closely with ELC colleagues through protected time set aside to explore and reflect on our research project.

It has supported my own knowledge and understanding of effective management of change and improvement planning through exploring our rationale for change and then reflecting on the evidence gathered in order to answer our initial enquiry question.

As a leader, it has allowed me to effectively support the creation of our Pedagogical Charter whilst working collaboratively with our wider staff team.

Author and role

Jayne Stojanovic, Principal Teacher (Acting/ELC class Line Manager)

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

  1. Alison McCulloch
    Alison McCulloch
    19 May 2022 at 7:14 pm

    Your research project is so relevant to the continuing focus on changing the way primary 1 (and 2?) approach their learning. My setting has had 2 EYOs support the Primary 1 class over the last year, who have started to embed experiences which are more ‘playful’ than ‘formal’ and it is hoped these will continue when support ends. The idea of a charter which defines the Frobelian links between ELC and Primary 1 is something which I could see working well in ensuring this happens. You seem to have already communicated the benefits of play and the Froebelian principles to your families as your research findings showed an appreciation of the Frobelian approaches you use. This parent/carer knowledge will hopefully make it easier for your teachers as the children transition to primary one and enter an environment which works in similar way to nursery. I can see my setting looking at this type of approach in the near future, after we complete work on raising awareness of Froebelian principles and practice with both our families and our school team. Thanks for sharing.


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