Lisnagelvin Nursery and Galliagh Nursery have formed a partnership and been working together as part of the early years Shared Education project ‘Sharing From The Start’. The children have been visiting each other’s settings and learning new songs together as their curriculum focus this year is music.
The nurseries are situated in the city just a short drive from each other on opposite sides of the river Foyle. Travelling between the settings for the shared sessions has provided the children with the opportunity to recognise and name familiar landmarks in the environment. There are many similarities between the two, particularly when it comes to addressing the needs of young children, regardless of socio-economic, political, geographical and religious factors.
The Sharing From The Start initiative is supported through the European union’s Peace IV Programme and 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.
As well as play, music and movement sessions, the children have also had the opportunity to visit local residential homes together to sing along with the residents. Staff are able to avail of joint training opportunities and the sharing of good practice. Many of the parents involved commented positively on their experience and how they were made to feel welcome in both settings.
Now in it’s third year, there are over 100 pre-schools across the region involved in Sharing From The Start. By partnering with a neighbouring pre-school, staff, parents and children are able to avail of many opportunities including tutoring, trips, performances and various curriculum based activities. There are currently over 3000 children involved.
Patricia Taggart, Principal of Lisnagelvin Nursery School said “It’s great for the children’s confidence and social skills. They love going to visit their new friends and having them over. We’re also pleased that our parents are so supportive and keen to be involved as well.”
Majella McDowell, Principal Galliagh Nursery School added “The two of us working together is not only beneficial for the children but also it’s a valuable way for staff to learn from each other and develop our own ideas and skills.”
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.