This year Easter is early and, like all of you, we have been reflecting on a year of lockdowns and restrictions and what the future holds. Last year was also the 150th anniversary of Maria Montessori’s birth and we substituted a year of celebrations for a year of reflection on what Maria Montessori’s vision was and how we could build on her legacy.

Whilst the pandemic has been a challenge, it is also an opportunity for us to do things differently and to show the world that education can be different. We owe it to our children and to the generation of future educators to promote Montessori as the alternative to the current education that our children receive.

As Maria Montessori herself said:

“This is the difference between the old and the new education. We want to help the auto-construction of man at the right time, so that mankind can go forward to something great. Society has built up walls, barriers. These the new education must cast down, revealing the free horizon. The new education is a revolution, but without violence. It is the non-violent revolution. After that, if it triumphs, violent revolution will have become forever impossible.” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p196)

In previous updates we have outlined how we have chosen to do this, with the main strategic direction of the Montessori Group (MCI and Montessori St Nicholas) being to ensure that Montessori is available to all, regardless of economic means, and is focussed on the child.

As Montessorians, you will all have that focus on the child and especially the most vulnerable children in society. We all remember that Maria Montessori’s first school was not for the children of the privileged of Rome but for the children of those most economically disadvantaged.

We have restructured both the charity and MCI to allow us to better carry out this legacy building work of Maria Montessori. Changes are difficult but everything has been done with an eye to the future and how we can best serve children, society and Montessorian educators.

We continue to develop; and working to achieve this legacy, in recent months we have:

  • Launched our concept of training hubs across the world (Host Centres)
  • Created the International Montessori Institute at Leeds Beckett University (so thatHigher Education training is available to more educators of the future than MCIcould reach on its own)
  • Supported research activity (which will reinforce Montessori’s credibility within andoutside of the education sector)
  • Maintained an active, strategic focus on supporting families during lockdown.Additionally, in the coming weeks we will be announcing more initiatives for launch this year with a focus on Educators. Some of these build on the work we have already started, and some are new. For the moment, we can announce the following:

 

MCI training, courses and qualifications

MCI continues to maintain a wide portfolio of accredited and internally awarded qualifications and courses available to support practitioners and trainees at all stages of their career within the education sector.

Through a range of collaborations with our partners and validators, MCI operates:

  • NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy – Birth to Seven (EarlyYears Educator)
  • NCFE CACHE Level 4 Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy – Birth to Seven (EarlyYears Educator)
  • Integrating Montessori Practice (IMP) – Principles & Philosophy
    Note: IMP courses are internally awarded MCI certifications that support professional development for qualified practitioners wishing to add a Montessori professional specialism to their practice.

Delivery of all MCI courses and qualifications is flexible and accessible for applicants based in the UK and overseas. Due to continuing restrictions on travel, we are working on the basis that courses will be delivered online with the practical element delivered, whenever and wherever possible, in a network of Montessori settings across the globe. As per our previous correspondence, we will maintain London training locations for those who wish to come into London.

Contact us today to find out more about which courses are available to suit your study requirements (reception@montessori.org.uk)

 

MCI new courses and activities – coming soon

In addition to the above, we are very pleased to announce that the following courses have now been added to our portfolio:

  • Integrating Montessori Practice (IMP) – Infant Specialism. A course developed specifically for practitioners who already have gained their early years practitioner qualifications and have experience in working with children, preferably infants in a home-based setting or in a nursery. This course helps professionals to deepen their knowledge and understanding the development and caring for infants and encourages practitioners to focus their study on this highly important period of the child’s life.
  • Tutor Training & Assessment (incorporating formally recognised Education & Training certification). A course designed to develop confidence, skills and techniques to enhance your practice as a Tutor, Trainer or lead Educator supporting adult learners as they seek out professional training and qualifications. An essential course for those looking to mentor trainee practitioners, deliver training courses and / or work with recognised qualifications in the UK or overseas.
  • Integrating Montessori Practice (IMP) – Leadership *COMING SOON*
  • Integrating Montessori Practice (IMP) – Supporting individual needs *COMING SOON*

To register your interest in these new courses, please contact reception@montessori.org.uk.

MCI Professional Development for graduates & newly qualified practitioners

We are very proud to announce that in the coming months, MCI will be releasing further details of our newly established education sector Graduate Professional Development initiatives.

As MCI moves away from direct training within a London Central provision for students, we wish to support and develop our wider community of trainees, newly qualified practitioners and expert support networks.

As part of our investment in this provision we will be offering FREE and subsidised professional development sessions for all MCI graduates, ex-students and newly qualified Montessori students working in education. Of course, we cannot guarantee when any face-to-face practical delivery sessions will be held at present, but they will be held regionally around the UK and internationally. We will inform you again once we know more as we continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic and the confirmed lock down easing and protocols.

We aim to prioritise access for MCI graduates affected by the pandemic, enabling them to consider which professional development provision is of most use as they begin their careers in the sector or as they choose to immerse themselves in Montessori professional practice sessions, exploring materials, refreshing skills and enhancing their familiarity with apparatus.

We encourage everyone to join our Montessori Network to learn more about this offer and remain connected to each other, by joining the Network here.

 

Higher Education: International Montessori Institute

We are pleased to announce that we have launched a scholarship programme to support the next generation of Montessori educators. The funding will support prospective teachers through higher education, and in turn, enrich the experiences of children who receive a Montessori education.

We are funding 25 scholarships of £2,000 each, awarded to students who are studying on the UK’s first accelerated degree course in Montessori Education (BA (Hons) Primary Education Accelerated Degree (Montessori)) in the next academic year (2021/22).

This course is offered through the International Montessori Institute, co-created by Montessori St Nicholas and Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Education. The Institute was established in August 2020 and now provides access to the UK’s first dedicated full complement of Higher Education courses for applicants looking for undergraduate and postgraduate (Masters, Doctoral-level study and Professorship), specialising in Montessori Education.

Applications are open for the 2021/2022 intake for the BA (Hons) Primary Education Accelerated Degree (Montessori). Learn more about the programme and the scholarship here.

 

Research

In 2021, the Montessori Group are well-placed, both reputationally and professionally, to secure accessible research opportunities that can positively influence the future of Montessori education. We remain highly motivated to work in collaboration with a range of partners and develop research projects; in turn promoting robust findings across a range of education and educationally allied subjects.

We remain focused throughout our projects on creating a positive and productive experience for all research colleagues and those involved in our projects, enabling particular opportunity for practice-based involvement and knowledge exchange with new researchers, practitioner graduates and international and regional networks to work together in our projects.

Our partnership with Leeds Beckett University, enables the International Montessori Institute to maintain drive and focus through integrated research to understand and share the impact and potential reach of the Montessori Method.

This year we are working with a range of partners to undertake research to advance our shared knowledge of Montessori education and the enhancement of educational experience for children. We also intend to branch out into work focused on the consideration of wellbeing, kindness, mental health and resilience.

The on-going research themes for the Institute are very much rooted in the work of Dr Montessori. Through research we seek to inform education policy change nationally and internationally in order to advance outcomes for children.

Should this be of interest to you; please do contact us directly to discuss further involvement in our research work and projects. Contact: reception@montessori.org.uk

 

Standards & Training Accreditation Review (STAR)

Since its inception as the Montessori Evaluation and Accreditation Board (MEAB) in 2007, the Montessori Group has upheld a firm commitment to accreditation for Montessori schools and early years settings both in the UK and globally.

In 2021, it is time to broaden the service offer and to reinvigorate the potential impact and depth of the Montessori Centre International (MCI) involvement with its quality enhancement responsibilities across the education sector and strengthen its place at the forefront of educational quality assurance activity to benefit learners worldwide.

Our new Standards & Training Accreditation Review (STAR) framework offers a pioneering approach to educational accreditation, endorsement and approval. Awarding the STAR status to quality settings and educators choosing to be held accountable for their methods of operation and professional practice is essential for supporting parents, learner’s families and the communities, seeking confirmation of excellence amongst the range of educational provision available today.

If educational providers are looking to be recognised for their commitment to high-quality learning and teaching -STAR is the quality mark that is the best fit. A personalised assessment process, reflective and responsive to the unique provision at each provider, routed in dependable and valuable comparisons with the highest-quality sector standards.

To learn more about STAR, please contact us for further information: accreditation@montessori.org.uk

Raising the status of Montessori educators and supporting Montessori settings

As many practitioners are aware, the pandemic has had a detrimental effect on children, families, and many settings. Along with others in the early years field, we believe that it is important that we keep early years education and funding for settings, as well as improving the status of early years educators firmly on the Government agenda.

We are proud to be part of the group supporting the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Childcare and Early Education, alongside other organisations such as the Early Years Alliance and National Day Nurseries Association.

The APPG brings together Parliamentarians and leading voices in the childcare and early education sector to promote and facilitate discussion on key policy issues.

The Montessori Group and the APPG are closely aligned in supporting early years settings to give all children the best possible start in life. The APPG’s recent calls on the Government include commissioning an independent review into the costs of delivering childcare and education, to ensure that settings are financially stable and can operate sustainably, and for children and families to have easy access to the early education and care they need to thrive.

These calls are echoed by our own calls on the Government to provide better financial support for the early years sector, clearer guidance for parents and practitioners over transmission rates among the 0-5 age group – and between this group and adults – and our demand for early years practitioners to be prioritised for the vaccine.

Other opportunities for settings and Montessori educators

 

SECTOR CONSULTATION: Integrating Montessori Practice (IMP) – Home-based Education & Childminding

MCI are keen to invite our networks to take part in the next stage of our course development process for our newest qualification outline. Having now reached the stage of scrutiny and evaluation, as we add the final touches to our Integrating Montessori Practice (IMP) specialism in Home-based Practice and Childminding, we welcome experienced practitioners to share with us in this important phase of designing this community relevant and much in-demand training programme.

The course operates as a professional development opportunity through a series of connected, blended learning modules developed specifically for practising, registered childminders who already have gained their early years practitioner or qualified teacher qualifications. (Additionally, other pre-requisite child-minding qualifications can be accepted for entry).

The content of this course helps practitioners to gain knowledge of the Montessori pedagogical principles and offers practical ideas on how to prepare the home – based environment to serve the child’s holistic development through Montessori activities.

If you are interested to learn more, contribute your thoughts and evaluations into our final course design or take part in our pilot programme running late in 2021, please do contact reception@montessori.org.uk

 

SECTOR OPPORTUNITIES: STAR approval for Host Centre – MCI course delivery

Recognition through our quality assurance scheme, known as the Standards, Training & Accreditation Review (STAR) framework, is a worldwide public commitment to upholding the highest standards for education providers.

For established and well-positioned educational providers, being recognised and approved by MCI enables them to operate as a Host Centre, supported; monitored and inspired by authentic and contemporary Montessori practice within our range of courses and qualifications.

These Centres can develop their own adult learning provision and gain access to a full portfolio of well-managed and sector relevant professional development training programmes awarded by MCI, Cache, NCFE and our other validating partners.

Successful approval as a Host Centre provides assurance to communities and prospective students of educational compliance and on-going learning and teaching enhancement. MCI courses are all interwoven with blended learning tools hosted through our Virtual Learning Environment to support remote study and face-to-face training and support.

We are thrilled that so many of our high-quality educational settings have taken up this opportunity so far; we look forward to supporting their range of courses and training packages in the coming month.

Should you wish to learn more about how you could develop your own Host Centre, please contact reception@montessori.org.uk for further details.

 

Social Impact

We all know that Maria Montessori started her work with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in society. Montessori St Nicholas wishes to continue that important legacy through its social impact programme. In the last few months, we have been working with small organisations to support the most vulnerable in society and to highlight Montessorian values that are as important now as they ever were.

Cities for Children

Cities for Children is a UK based charity which provides support and safe spaces for children living in poverty in Pakistan. Similarly, to the Montessori philosophy, the charity believes all children deserve the right to learn, play, and reach their full potential. They create safe environments for children in cities, particularly children living on the streets, where they have access to education and freedom to explore their own interests.

MCI has been supporting Cities for Children by providing a Montessori perspective to the charity’s work; supporting the teachers who interact with the children. Enabling safe free play is an important element of the charity’s work, so it is drawing on the Montessori philosophy of creating the right environment for learning through play.

Humanimal Trust

The Humanimal Trust is a charity founded by TV vet Professor Noel Fitzpatrick. The Montessori Group is supporting the Humanimal Trust by developing teacher packs for use in their outreach to children, to help educate them about animals and their relationship with humans. The Trust provides free activity sheets on their website to help engage children of all ages, and MCI can help support this work.

Skateistan

Skateistan is an international non-profit organisation which empowers children through skateboarding and providing safe spaces for them to play. By combining skateboarding with creative, art-based education the charity aims to give children the opportunity to reach their full potential and become the next generation of leaders, particularly those often excluded from sports and educational opportunities, including girls, those living with disabilities and those from low-income backgrounds.

Since July 2020 MCI has supported 20 Skateistan teachers and staff through the three Introduction to Montessori Philosophy courses through our open learning platform, and this month marks the end of the project. Their enrolment onto these courses was sponsored by both the Montessori St Nicholas Charity and Skateistan, as well as through fundraising by MCI staff and students.

UsforThem

MCI joined with UsforThem, a community of 25,000 parents and supporters across the UK, to demand clarity and proportionate action from the Government regarding Covid-19 transmission rates in the early years sector.

Regularly changing guidelines and conflicting advice from legislative bodies mean that parents and practitioners alike are concerned about disruption to children’s early years development. MCI carried out research amongst nursery practitioners, and found that children’s social skills, mental health, and emotional development, were areas of particular concern.

The Favela Foundation

In our ongoing mission to help children from all backgrounds from around the world reach their full potential, Montessori Group is collaborating with the Favela Foundation, a volunteer-led charity which works with local NGOs in Brazil to bring educational opportunities to children living in the favela communities. The charity supports grassroots projects to create safe spaces for children living in poverty.

 

Join us in the #KindnessMatters global campaign

We are joining forces with the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) to support the #KindnessMatters global campaign to collect 1 million stories of kindness in support of the creation of a new UNESCO International Day of Kindness at the UNESCO General Conference in November 2021.

You can help by sharing with us your stories of kindness. All we need (to protect privacy) is:

  1. a)  Date (of the act of kindness)
  2. b)  Location (village, town, city, country)
  3. c)  VERY BRIEF description of the act of kindness

OPTIONAL – any other data e.g. URL of media articles, photos, videos etc.

The absolute best stories and most inspirational stories will be featured on the Kindness Stories and Kindness Globe.

We are particularly keen to hear of acts of kindness by young Montessorians (18-34) and the Montessorian considered the kindest in the world will be invited to present on the Montessori Kindness Campaign at the 2021 Third World Youth Conference on Kindness in October.

The links between Maria Montessori and Mahatma Gandhi are well known to all Montessorians as are Montessori’s teachings on peace education so we are delighted to be partnering with the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development.

If you would like to take part, please send details of the acts of kindness you want featured to beatrice.luca@montessori.org.uk

 

This is a long note, but we wanted to update you on all our current plans and activities. We believe that we need to make the most of this opportunity to use the Montessori approach as a catalyst for positive and peaceful societal change.

“Times have changed, and science has made great progress, and so has our work; but our principles have only been confirmed, and along with them our conviction that mankind can hope for a solution to its problems, among which the most urgent are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child and to the development of the great potentialities of the human personality in the course of its formation.”

Maria Montessori (The Discovery of the Child p. Foreword)

Best wishes for a productive Spring.

 

Leonor Stjepic, CEO of Montessori Group, Chair of MCI 

Maccs Pescatore, CEO MCI