Mrs. Wright enjoys her visit to our partner school in Sweden!! - 08 April 2011
Our new partner schools are in the beautiful town of Växjö, in Southern Sweden
Can you see Mrs. Wright with the headteacher of our partner school Marianne?
Can you see Vaxjo Cathedral and a thawing Växjö lake?
Peterbrook International School
Our first visit to Sweden!!
Hello, or as my new friends in Sweden would say, 'Hej'!!
As most of you will know, I recently had the very exciting opportunity to visit our partner schools in Växjö, Sweden. Here is a brief account of my trip.
My visit began with a trip to Björken pre-school for children aged 1 to 5 years. The first thing I learnt about Swedish schools was that outdoor shoes are not allowed inside! I left my shoes at the door and went to look around the classrooms.
Each class had a number of rooms which all had different uses – playing, eating, role-playing, sleeping and making/painting. The children had free access to each room, as well as to a small outdoor area outside each classroom. The thing that struck me most of all was the feeling of space – each classroom had very little furniture: just lots of space to move and play.
During my visit I learnt that many things are taught through songs in Sweden – every class I went into sang at least one song, no matter what the lesson was about. I saw two music sessions at Björken – a ‘rythmics’ lesson where the children sang songs and played instruments, and a lesson using ‘Bunnemethod’ where the children played simple instruments to accompany their singing. Both of these sessions were enjoyed very much by the children, and I must admit to tapping my foot to the music, too!
One thing I saw at Björken pre-school that I am not used to was the nap time for 1-3 year olds in the afternoons. The children sleep for around an hour in various places, with some parents choosing for their children to sleep outside. These children were well wrapped up against the cold and slept in wide push chairs just outside their classrooms. I was told that the children slept outside in all weathers, unless the temperature dropped below -10 (which happens quite a lot I was told!). If this happens the children are brought inside. Whilst the younger children have their nap straight after lunch the older children have quiet story times, relaxing and allowing their lunch to settle.
In the afternoon I travelled back into Växjö to meet with the Director of Education. He explained a few of the more general elements of the Swedish Education system to us, as well as telling us a little about Växjö itself. It was a very interesting meeting in which all of the teachers from Solihull took part.
On the second day of my trip I went to visit Ulriksbergs pre-school. Peterbrook has links with both schools because they have the same Headteacher. Whilst Ulriksbergs pre-school was just up the road from Björken pre-school it was quite different in terms of the buildings and the space, having even larger classrooms and play areas than the first! I spent my time at Ulriksbergs with the 3-5 year olds, looking particularly at language development and the use of stories to teach the curriculum.
Ulriksbergs pre-school was, quite rightly, proud of its library and the service provided to them by their librarian. We went for a lovely story time, following the adventures of a character that travels to a different country every week, reading a story from each one. The country we visited this week was England and the children had a wonderful time learning about some of the animals that live here.
Back in the classroom we had fruit during snack time then the class teacher (Gunilla) told a story, using objects to give the children a visual guide to what the story was about. She then used the objects from the story to teach a specific aspect of the Swedish language – this week was all about words to describe positions such as ‘in front of’, ‘behind’, etc. Gunilla explained to me that a lot of the teaching is done in this way, using the stories as a way into learning.
During the afternoon I had a meeting with the Headteacher, Marianne, where we planned some joint projects for our schools to be involved in, particularly with our Foundation Stage children. I then joined the other teachers from Solihull for afternoon tea with the Mayor of Växjö, where I learnt more about the ‘Greenest City in Europe’ – a title that Växjö is very proud of.
In the evening the staff from all of our partner schools in Sweden treated all of the Solihull teachers to an evening at the glass factory in Kosta, outside Växjö. The evening was very enjoyable, with traditional Swedish food and music and after dinner entertainment where one of the master glass blowers made a glass plate. Thanks to all of our friends in Växjö for such an enjoyable and interesting time!
I spent my last day in Växjö at Ulriksbergskolan. This is where the children aged 6 come to pre-school class (a little like our Reception class), and children aged 7 to 13 come to compulsory school.
Most of my day was spent with the 6 year olds, as I wanted to see what preparations were made in order for the children to be ready to begin their compulsory schooling at age 7. I watched a language lesson, where the children had to work in groups to make letters of the alphabet using their bodies. This kind of activity was used a lot, as it required the children to talk to each other and to co-operate as a group. The children did very well and demonstrated their work to each other at the end of the session.
The children in pre-school class also had many opportunities throughout the day to choose independent activities. These always had to be chosen with at least one other person, again to encourage speech and co-operation between the children.
Whilst at Ulriksbergskolan I had a complete tour of the school. They are very fortunate and have lots of space and many rooms that we could not possibly accommodate! Two of these specialist rooms were the woodwork room, where children use tools and electrical equipment from around age 8, and the craft room, where children have access to sewing machines and a loom for weaving! I must admit to being slightly envious!
At the end of day 3 it was time to head back home to Solihull. I would like to say a very big and heartfelt THANK YOU to all of the people I met in Växjö – they helped to make my visit enjoyable and special, as well as making me feel at home in a strange country.
During my visit I made a number of plans with our partner school, the first of which will be happening early in the summer term – watch this space!
Peterbrook Primary School, High Street, Solihull Lodge, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands, B90 1HR
Tel: +44(0)121 4302545 firstname.lastname@example.org