CASE STUDY Sarah Hanley - EYPS at Oxford Brookes Her trip to Gambia
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CASE STUDY Sarah Hanley - EYPS at Oxford Brookes Her ... - Distinct

CASE STUDYSarah Hanley - EYPS at Oxford BrookesHer trip to GambiaSarah Hanley in a Gambian classHer backgroundI had always wanted to work with children but left school and went to work in abank. After having my own children, I felt that if I was going to have a careerchange and follow my childhood dream that was the time to do it. I applied towork in my local playgroup and started the Diploma in Pre-School Practice atthe same time. On completion of this, I moved on to study the Foundationdegree in Early Years and then the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies.Each stage gave me deeper insight into childcare. I met some fantastic peoplethat I have learnt with and from. The studies have broadened my horizons andincreased my depth of view of Early Years provision and education.I know that I am a completely different person now, much more confident in myown knowledge and also more inspired to encourage other people to do thesame. My next step is to complete the EYPS, which I feel is an innovativeapproach to improving the perception of credibility of Early Years Practitionersin education.

Sarah’s host, Teacher Ramatu Banjura and her classHer initial thoughts of the Gambian education systemMy initial perception of the Gambian education system was surprise at thewealth of resources I saw in the first two schools I visited. However, afterdiscussing this with my host family, I realised that I had visited two of thewealthier schools in the country. This obviously gave a completely differentsense of the reality. If compared to many schools in the UK, the schools werecomparatively poor.Others in the group saw a very different side of the education system, fifty pluschildren sat on the floor listening to a teacher who had no resources. Despitethis, the children were all really keen to learn and the teachers were dedicated.Some of the methods may be questioned here as being developmentallyappropriate; however my enduring memories are of children who were eager tolearn and teachers who were really passionate about helping them to learn.Sarah and her host’s family

The differences and similaritiesThere are many schools who have European sponsors and it was interesting tosee many resources you might find here such as Jolly Phonics books and LittleTykes play equipment. All of the schools I visited were keen to talk about howthey really appreciate the equipment, but that they are also aware that theyneed to provide their children with natural and local resources and relevantexperiences. They also talked about how a child will learn more by doing andexperiencing than by being told or shown pictures about it. This was aresounding similarity to our practices and encouraging to see that there is areal movement away from rote teaching.Ideas to incorporate into her setting[Sarah’s project for her course was Equality and Identity which she wrote up onher return from Gambia]One of the most poignant moments was when the children in the compound Iwas staying started to ask about my freckles and moles. Although I wasinitially uncomfortable and unsure of how to explain our differences, theirobvious interest, enthusiasm and curiosity enabled me to have a very openand relaxed conversation without concern of saying the wrong thing. Theconversation moved easily between what was different about us and what wehad in common. I have since had similar conversations with the children in mysetting and been met with the same responses from them. This was one of thekey experiences that has affected my own practice.The children and adults all appreciate the resources they have available tothem and use them imaginatively. In one of the schools, food grown in thechildren’s vegetable patch is used in their school lunch. Many of our childrenwould benefit from a similar approach.How the trip has affected her view of early yearsChildren are sponges, eager to learn and will do so despite the way they aretaught. The Gambian children appeared to have a more limited access todifferent ways of learning. However, they were much more capable of selfcare.Our children now have less opportunity for real and practical experienceand it is our challenge to provide it for them in the setting.Early years and the futureEarly Years provision is continually improving and is dynamic. Our children areexpected to move to more formal education very early. I would like to work tooffer more play-based learning to children during the transition between theEYFS and Key Stage one, to give them better opportunity to reach theirlearning potential.I feel it is very important that practitioners do not become stagnant in practiceand instead continue to reflect on their own perceptions and practice and havethe courage to change things where they feel it would be of benefit to thechildren. I believe that EYPS gives practitioners opportunity and conviction todo this.Sarah HanleyEYPS Oxford Brookes University 2009

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