Ballymena Nursery, Castle Tower Nursery and First Steps Playgroup have been working together on the ‘Sharing From The Start’ project. Recently at Castle Tower the children performed a concert for their parents and families, showcasing all the songs they have learned together. The three neighbouring settings have formed a partnership and have had a number of shared sessions throughout the year.
L-R Anna Logan Castle Tower Nursery, Caroline Connon First Steps Playgroup and Jacqueline Coulter Ballymena Nursery
The Sharing From The Start initiative which involves over 2400 children is supported by the European Union’s Peace IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. It involves early years settings throughout Northern Ireland and the Southern Border counties forming cross-community partnerships, and the children taking part in joint curricular classes, improving educational outcomes and promoting good relations.
The curriculum focus for the Ballymena nurseries this year has been music and movement. During their shared classes they have learned songs, including the sign language and they have been playing different musical instruments. They even made their own song about the partnership called ‘In our nursery’. Jacqueline Coulter from Ballymena Nursery said “The children were so excited to perform in front of their families. Their concert was marvellous and they really are a credit to their parents.”
Sharing From The Start is administered by Early Years working in collaboration with the National Childhood Network and the Fermanagh Trust. Together these three organisations have a strong track record of working for the benefit of children and good relations development. Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Department of Education and Skills Ireland.
Anna Logan from Castle Tower Nursery said “Learning together throughout the year has been wonderful for the children. It’s great to see their confidence improve and see them making so many new friends.” Caroline Connon from First Steps Playgroup added “The three of us taking part in this project is a valuable way for staff to learn from each other and develop our skills. It’s been beneficial in so many ways and we’re looking forward to continuing our work together.”
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