Who is responsible for Montessori education globally/ nationally?

There is no one specific organisation responsible for Montessori education.   Dr Montessori did not protect the Montessori name in her day and as a result there are many Montessori organisations around the world which represent the Montessori communities in individual countries and continents.   Usually these organisations are linked with Montessori teacher training colleges and  societies.   These are privately owned, usually by charities or education trusts and in addition to the teacher training they also offer membership for their graduates and associated schools as well as continued professional development training and quality assurance schemes for associated nurseries  and schools.

For example the Montessori St Nicholas  charity (MSN) was established in 1946 by Phoebe Childs and Margaret Homfray with the permission of Maria Montessori.   The Charity represents Montessori at Government level and also owns the following organisations which provide services for the Montessori community:

Montessori Centre International (MCI) (formally Montessori St Nicholas training College and London Montessori Centre)the only Montessori teacher training programme in the UK to offer the nationally recognised Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy, Birth to Seven (Early Years Educator) and a Foundation Degree in Arts (Montessori Early Childhood Practice)

Montessori Schools Association   – a membership organisation for Montessori teachers which offers listing for all member schools and professional development training (in partnership with MCI), national and regional networking opportunities for members, and a quality assurance scheme for its schools managed by the Montessori Evaluation and Accreditation Board (MEAB).

The MSN also owns Longacre Childcare and  part owns Montessori St. Nicholas School.

How do I know that the Montessori school I have visited is committed to on-going improvement?

The school will have an industrious yet calm atmosphere, children will be engaged in many different activities, some working alone, some in small groups, some will be learning inside and others in the outdoor classroom.

The environment will be well organised both inside and outside and the teachers will be part of the learning provision in which children lead the learning.   To find out more please click here

Many schools are deeply committed to offering high quality Montessori education which is validated by their participation in a quality assurance scheme such as MEAB.

 

How does the Montessori early years curriculum meet the requirements of the regulatory framework as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (DfE 2014)?

The principles which underpin both approaches focus on the child, the learning environment and the relationships within it in promoting childrens learning and development. The synergy in the principles ensures that Montessori early years education works well alongside the EYFS without losing its key focus on following the child. To find out more see The Guide to the EYFS.

Can anybody use the Montessori name?

Unfortunately the name ‘Montessori’ for schools and pre-schools was never made copyright by Maria Montessori when she started her work, and some people are legally free to use the name irrespective of what goes on in their nursery or school.   However the current regulation of early years provision requires the nursery or pre-school to meet the standards as set out in the EYFS, which safeguards minimum standards in quality of delivery.   It is always good to check out the settings Ofsted report alongside any other reports, such as the MEAB accreditation report, to ensure that the setting is committed to delivering quality provision.

As all the Montessori schools and nurseries operate as separate business the Montessori Schools Association and Montessori St Nicholas do not have any oversight of their financial and management arrangements.

Is Montessori still relevant?

Research shows us that, far from being old-fashioned and obsolete, Montessoris ideas are now being recognised by educationalists, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists worldwide. Her emphasis on holistic learning with the importance of structure, intrinsic motivation, sociality and emotional intelligence were all ideas ahead of their time. She felt that it was education that lay at the root of social dysfunction and that it was only by celebrating children as the hope of mankind, that we would ever be able to change the nature of society. She fought for a peaceful world that celebrated the fundamental unity underlying diversity and her teachings remain as applicable today as they were then.

It is very relevant because it focuses on the achievements and celebration of individual children, recognising their individual gifts and aptitudes to learning.   It promotes:

  • personal and intellectual independence, which enables the child to do and think for him/herself.
  • freedom with responsibility
  • initiative and resilience
  • high levels of self esteem
  • respect for self, others and the environment

All these are required for the citizens of our planet in the 21st  century.

What is the difference between Montessori and other approaches to education?

In Montessori schools the child is seen as a dynamic learner, full of creative potential and in need of the maximum possible freedom to be allowed to develop as a happy, confident individual. Montessori schools therefore place emphasis on the importance of process rather than product. In more traditional schools children are seen to be in need of more active instruction and control from adultsthere is less trust in the childs own inner abilities and more emphasis on ensuring defined results. So, Montessori schools are learner-centred, whereas traditional schools tend to be more teacher-centred.

As a pioneer of early years education Maria Montessori (18701952)   has left behind her a legacy of early years pedagogy that  celebrates the individual child and recognises the childs capacity for leading his/her learning in a well organised environment offering rich learning opportunities under the guidance of a well prepared educator.   Montessori s observations led her to formulate her pedagogy focused on childrens sensitive periods, their capacity for active learning through their senses, and education which takes place in a harmonious and respectful atmosphere.   These principles have been endorsed by neuroscientists of today and are reflected in many current approaches to early years education such as the EYFS or Reggio Emilia. The carefully prepared favourable learning environment supporting the individual progress of each child remains at the heart of Montessori education today.