Region 7 Contact

Chair: Sandra Pidgeon
Counties: Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, and Wales

Southwest England and Wales Meetings


Saturday 15 June 2019 – Creativity and the outdoor classroom with Sarah Olley

Clifton Children’s House, Ground Floor Flat, 6 Gordon Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1AP

10am – 3pm

10am registration for a 10:30am start.

£25 for MSA members, £35 for non-members


A day to discover what creativity means to you, and to feel what an open provocation is like. We will reflect on how to build on ideas to enable a child or children to express themselves and think critically and creatively.  The day will provide opportunities to explore possible ways the expressive arts can be developed indoors and outdoors and how this can support children’s holistic development.

Be ready to explore and experiment yourselves – book your place here!


On Saturday 24th November, practitioners from across the South West and Wales attended a regional workshop hosted at Stoke Bishop Montessori School led by Barbara Isaacs around the characteristics of effective learning. With the characteristics being such a prominent part of the EYFS, and many councils asking settings to report on children’s progress in the characteristics on a termly basis, the workshop offered a fabulous opportunity to explore our understanding.

We began with an exploration of the Characteristics of Effective Learning, thinking about what they mean to us and how we use them internally within our settings and also how we share them with our parents. We then went on to explore the importance of observation and our critical insights in order to tease out a child’s learning disposition and gain a perception of their inner world. We worked together to think of examples from recent practice, giving us lots of opportunity for reflection and discussion. Barbara also reminded us to bear in mind both Montessori’s sensitive periods and children’s schemas in understanding a child’s development.

There was a strong focus on creativity –reflecting on what creativity is and the many opportunities for creative experiences in the Montessori environment enabling the child to develop ideas and make connections. We revisited the idea that Montessori saw imagination as a gift of childhood to be treasured.

The workshop linked Montessori philosophy and practice with the EYFS Characteristics of effective learning and beyond – looking at the child’s progressive journey and disposition for learning and giving us as practitioners many ideas to reflect upon and apply in our planning and practice. The day was insightful, relaxed and friendly, giving a chance to share thoughts and ideas with plenty of food for thought to take away. Many thanks to Sandra Pidgeon for hosting the event and Barbara for her inspiring perspective. 

Leanne Ridgeway, Stoke Bishop Montessori