Children and staff from Shaftesbury Nursery and St Teresa’s Nursery, Belfast have embarked on an exciting new shared education initiative ‘Sharing From The Start’. Focussing on literacy work and outdoor play, this is a chance for staff to collaborate and for the children to make new friends.
‘Sharing From The Start’ is supported the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Funding enables pre-schools to take part in Shared Education projects improving educational outcomes and cross-community cohesion, inclusion and diversity. A number of neighbouring pre-school partnerships have been developed throughout Northern Ireland and the Southern Border Counties.
Loretta Cunningham from Shaftesbury Nursery commented “There’s quite a lot of Shared Education taking place between schools in the area so this isn’t totally new to us and we’ve able to see through these schools how shared education works and the benefits that come from it. Our classes have adapted so easily. Part of this is of course the social aspect and seeing the children being comfortable with other children. It’s so lovely to start seeing bonds being developed and friendships being made. Not only is there sharing between the children but also our staff, utilising the skills and resources of both nurseries to develop good practice.”
Clare Evans from St Teresa’s Nursery added “For our work together we’re going to focus on language and literacy as well as outdoor play. So far we’ve had a joint Christmas Carol service, worked together on a fairy dummy tree and we’ve had a visit from the Easter bunny. Over the coming weeks we’re going to be doing some Spring craft, visits to allotments and a Teddy Bear’s picnic. Our nurseries are keen to get parental involvement and we’re fortunate that our parents and grandparents have been so supportive and engaged in our work together.”
Administered by Early Years, working in collaboration with the National Childhood Network and the Fermanagh Trust, ‘Sharing From The Start’ aims to engage almost 10,000 pre-school children in shared activities on ongoing and sustained basis by 2022. Together these three organisations have a strong track record and over twenty years experience of working for the benefit of children and community relations development.
Audrey Rainey (Early Years), programme manager of ‘Sharing From The Start’ said “Well done to Shaftesbury and St Teresa’s nurseries. We are very excited to see our project underway and curriculum based work like this taking place. This is a fantastic opportunity to bring about positive attitudinal change among children, parents, teachers and the wider community.”