Twenty-four students, in their second year studying on the Early Childhood Studies degree programme at the University of Northampton, have just returned from an international study trip to Sweden.
Each year, students at the University travel to Jonkoping University, Sweden, to spend a week immersed in Swedish education system as part of their course. During the study trip, the students compare and contrast the Swedish system with that in England, developing their understanding of the global issues facing our youngest children.
Students on the Early Childhood Studies programme saw first-hand how Sweden’s nurseries, early years settings and schools work with families, especially around the intricacies of working with children who have additional needs.
Tanya Richardson, Programme Leader for Early Childhood Studies at the University of Northampton said: “Through visiting schools, pre-schools and nurseries, the students were able to reflect on the contrast in approaches to diversity, inclusion and working with families.
“As part of the academic elements of study at Jonkoping University, students were involved in a specially organised symposium to explore the practical experiences they had experienced with Swedish children. “
Speaking about the study trip, student, Joanne Miller, said: “My trip to Sweden was eye opening. The children start Pre-school at six years old and formal schooling at seven. The peace and calmness of the classrooms was apparent, as was the mutual respect between teachers and pupils. Learning is at a steady pace and children are encouraged to question everything. They are trusted and take responsibility. In contrast, in England our children begin to read and write at four years old, with teachers and children under regularly tested with pressure to perform. The trip to Sweden has made me think; does working harder and faster necessarily mean better? And at what cost does it have to our children? We are seeing more and more behavioural problems and mental health issues? Is our education system failing our children? Maybe Forest Schools is not the only leaf we need to take from the Swedish book of Education.”