Blog – Education for Regenerative Practice and Sustainable Development

Education for Regenerative Practice and Sustainable Development

Beki Aldam, Crossfields Learning

As we launch our Level 3 in Integrative Education, we look at why we created it, what inspired us, and what we aim to achieve 

Our approach 

The Integrative Education set of qualifications was created to inspire learners to engage with their learning, and create work they are proud to have produced. It aims to raise attainment for all learners and reduce the numbers of early school leavers. 

Crossfields Institute lead a project to explore and develop a type of learning and assessment that focuses on the use of portfolio assessment, and evidence of achievement from formal, informal and non-formal learning, designed to increase inclusion. This project was recognised and funded by Erasmus+ 2015 Key Action 2, School Education Strategic Partnership Project1, and has informed the development of these qualifications. 

More widely, this qualification was developed as a way to address concerns that education is increasingly politicised and centrally-controlled, vulnerable to the short-termism that our political system often engenders, and the ideological views of those currently in power. The Federation for Education Development’s survey also concluded that, “81% of respondents believe a long-term plan for education should be driven by a politically neutral and independent organisation.” 

This qualification was therefore developed by looking closely at the evidence behind assessment, rather than being driven by ideologies or targets, and out of a desire to engage young people in their learning with renewed enthusiasm and joy.  

The Times Education Commission concluded that, “high-stakes assessment has become the tail that wags the dog. Of course some exams are necessary, but the single-minded focus on grades has undermined the broad and balanced education that should be offered to all young people.” 

An over-reliance on summative, exam-based assessment, in order to achieve a qualification, is not serving the needs of many school-age learners. There are over 2 million children currently not in school, and 416 students are being excluded from schools every single month. 

The pressures to achieve in such a system inevitably devalue and reduce time spent on integrating other important non-formal or informal learning opportunities. A headteacher quoted in an Institute of Education (IoE) report stated, “With high stakes testing, the whole of the school’s activity is based around passing tests.” 

Those learners whose learning styles and needs do not sit well with formal learning and summative exam assessments are at greater risk of becoming disillusioned, disengaged, stressed and even disruptive. Geoff Barton, the head of the Association of School and College Leaders argues against the “baked-in” system of failure, that sees one-third of children failing their Maths and English GCSEs each year, to keep to the correct ratios: “Our education system works well for about 70 per cent of children. The trouble is if you’re one of the 30 per cent it’s a national scandal.” 

At Crossfields Institute, we aim to create qualifications that work for all students, that bring the very best out of each learner, and exclude no one from a lifelong love of learning and a sense of achievement. This is because students are not made to learn material for exams, but can instead engage with exciting and interesting projects that will inspire them. 

An integrative approach 

The Level 3 IE set of qualifications has been developed to be integrative, in recognition of the fact that life does not easily fit into siloed subjects. 

For Crossfields Institute, there are three ways that education can be described as ‘integrative’. Integrative education: 

  1. Engages the whole person – both teacher and student. They use and develop their mental, physical and emotional skills.
  2. Connects the learner and their learning to their daily life. Their own experiences become valuable in their learning; their learning is useful in their own lives, within their particular context. The student’s educational experience remains relevant for them, and continues to do so as they leave the educational setting and move out into the world. 
  3. Connects or combines both different subjects and the skills those subjects seek to develop. 

Education that is integrative will be more engaging, more enlightening, more meaningful. Students will have the chance to love what they learn and apply it wherever it is most needed in their lives. 

 

Regenerative practice and sustainable development 

The Integrative Education qualifications also focus on how to teach the next generation of learners, to live in the world in which we find ourselves. We now live in a new geological age, the Anthropocene, where humans dominate the planet’s ecology and geochemistry.  Humans have become the single most influential species on the planet, causing significant global warming and other changes to land, environment, water, organisms and the atmosphere. 

The coming years represent a vital window of time, in which humans need to drastically alter the way they interact with the world, and work towards a more sustainable way of life. 

However, the world’s transformation to sustainable development is being impeded by the very way humanity currently functions, “at the core, we are the problem. The way we’re acting in the world, and the way we solve problems, is the problem. 

As humans, we currently, “lack the inner capacity to deal with our increasingly complex environment and challenges.” However, “modern research shows that the inner abilities we now all need can be developed.” 

The Inner Development Goals are an identified list of transformative skills for sustainable development. They show us which qualities and skills we need to develop and nurture, in order to be able to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

That’s why this qualification includes a module that enables learners to recognise and work on their own inner development. As well as enhancing their own capabilities, it may also help them to face the challenges and anxieties that climate change and other crises bring to their lives. Based on the Inner Development Goals, the module focuses closely on what individuals can do to improve their own inner development, and take care of their mental wellbeing through challenging times. 

The content of the qualification has also been informed by the Gaia Yes curriculum, which recognises that, “integrating knowledge and skills for sustainable development into schools is crucial for the future of our planet and, more specifically, for the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and EU sustainability policies. We are handing over to the next generation a planet that must face several serious environmental problems and the convergence of multiple crises. It is important to help young people develop the knowledge, skills, values and behaviours necessary for sustainable development.” 

At this unprecedented time in history, the development of this qualification is a response to the urgent need for relevant learning, preparing young people for the ecological challenges around them. 

In addition to the urgent need to address the climate crises, society needs to resolve a crisis of skills. According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), more than three-quarters of small UK businesses have struggled to recruit in the past 12 months, with 82% blaming a lack of candidates with the right experience, 

Young people are acutely aware of this skills deficit. Research conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Accenture, and Hays10 found that almost 1 in 4 young people (aged 17-23) do not feel adequately prepared by their education for the world of work. 

This qualification includes an emphasis on key knowledge and skills that are relevant to the world we live in, including communication skills and intercultural competence; systems-based thinking and economics; action-based research skills and awareness of global perspectives. 

Moreover, the Gaia Yes programme, which inspired this qualification, clearly outlines how important it is to develop students’ sustainability “competencies, twenty-first century skills and the outcomes of their national curricula in an integrated manner…. The emphasis must shift from information to imagination and from imagination to practical application through learning from experience. These competencies are crucial in finding solutions to various serious environmental problems and crises.” 

The CBI describes young people as ‘work ready’ when they have developed their knowledge, skills and character. The IE qualifications follow the same structure, working with the head (knowledge), hands (skills) and heart (character, or attributes), to enable the next generation of thinkers, leaders and citizens to thrive. Each module contains knowledge that the students will gain, skills they will develop and attributes they will carry forward. 

Education needs to enthral, engage and bring joy to learners. The aim of the Level 3 qualification is to do just that. As the Nobel prizewinning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, said, “A curriculum needs to excite. It needs to create citizens as well as specialists.” 

Blog – Inner Development Goals

Inner Development Goals for Integrative Learning

Beki Aldam, Crossfields Learning

Where did the Inner Development Goals come from? 

In 2015, all UN member states adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals represent international agreement that we have to dramatically change our ways of living, if we are to continue to inhabit Earth without destroying her irrevocably. According to who you are, those changes should occur very soon, right now, yesterday, or at some point in the future. But there is almost universal acceptance that something drastic needs to change. The UN talks of us being in “an ambitious decade” at the end of which the goals are met, in 2030. 

Why are we not steaming towards the accomplishment of these goals? For many who are concerned about it, movement towards the goals seems achingly slow, or even non-existent. The recent return of populist governments across the world has further scuppered progress and, in some cases, introduced dangerous regressions. 

Frustrations about this lack of progress began to grow soon after the goals were ratified. In early 2019 a group of academics, thinkers and leaders got together to discuss the view that what was impeding the world’s transformation to sustainable development was something about the way humanity currently functions, “at the core, we are the problem. The way we’re acting in the world, and the way we solve problems, is the problem.” [innerdevelopmentgoals.org] 

Environmental lawyer and academic Gus Speth articulated it best, when he said: “I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy.”  

This group agreed that, as humans, “we lack the inner capacity to deal with our increasingly complex environment and challenges.” Luckily though, all is not lost, because, “modern research shows that the inner abilities we now all need can be developed.” [innerdevelopmentgoals.org] 

The development of these inner abilities is the foundation of the Inner Development Goals (IDGs). 

What are the Inner Development Goals? 

The IDGs are an identified list of transformative skills for sustainable development. They show us which qualities and skills we need to develop and nurture, in order to be able to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

Crucially, there will be guidance on how to develop these necessary skills, which will be “open source and free for all to use”.  

Reading the full IDG report is interesting, because over a thousand people worldwide have had an input in their evolution. And there were many discussions on how they ought to be presented. Essentially, though, there was a need to make them accessible, and easy for mass communication and education. Agreement was made that 23 skills and qualities would be presented in five ‘dimensions’ or categories: 

Why do we think they are important? 

At Crossfields Institute, we have a commitment that everything we do should make the world a better place. We believe that education has the power and potential to be a force of positive change in the world. And we aim not only to care for and nurture the environments around us, but to promote environmental responsibility wherever we can. 

For us, then, the IDGs align clearly with what we wish to help our learners achieve – real, lasting, positive change in the world. 

How can they improve and enhance IE? 

The IDGs give us a framework to develop our own skills and qualifications. Many of those skills are vital to becoming effective learners. For example, developing your co-creation skills (as part of part 4. Collaborating – Social Skills) will ensure that learners are better able to work in pairs or groups to create their work. It will lead to more satisfying learning experiences; better outcomes for learners and teachers; and a higher quality of work that we can showcase as a result. Everyone benefits! 

If anything, we think Integrative Education and IDGs complement each other. Arguably, young learners are better equipped to grasp the concepts of, and improve, their skills and qualities for life, in an environment where the learning better reflects the world around them; where their thinking is already connected across different subject areas; and where they are required to work in pairs or groups as part of their everyday educational experience. 

Most importantly, the IDGs give us practical help in addressing the needs of humanity. And they help people to navigate the anxieties and uncertainties that can impede progress and impair the quality of our lives. Climate change anxiety, rising alarmingly in the younger demographic, is a very real challenge that we must support our young learners – and their teachers – through. As this article in the Lancet argues, “we owe it to children and young people to prioritise mitigation of climate change at its source, while at the same time investing in evidence-based tools to support their mental wellbeing in the face of this ongoing crisis.” 

How have we used them in our work? 

We have embedded the principles of the IDGs into our Integrative Education Level 3 qualifications. 

The IDGs work alongside research methods, independent project work, cross-cultural competencies, eco-literacy and many other complementary elements that prepare young people for the next stage in their lives, and to be active and responsible global citizens. 

How can you find out more? 

Contact the Learning Team to find out more about our Integrative Education suite of qualifications. 

Read the full IDG report to find out more about the project. 

Crossfields Institute Level 4 Award in Internal Quality Assurance: Integrative Approach

Blog – Integrative Education

Integrative Education

Beki Aldam, Crossfields Learning

What does ‘integrative education’ mean? 

The definition of ‘integrative’ is, “combining two or more things to form an effective unit or system.”  

What happens when we apply that to education and learning? It becomes a multi-faceted term that encompasses many elements of the learning process, the students and the teachers.  

The best-known version of integrative education (IE) is where the student learns in a way that combines or crosses over the boundaries between traditionally-divided subject areas. Sometimes called transdisciplinary, cross-curricular, or inter-curricular learning, students partake in learning that requires a range and combination of skills, and may include several subject areas. For example, a project making musical instruments that might combine musical, mathematic, physics, and handwork skills. 

However, it isn’t only the idea that day-to-day living is not neatly divided into subject silos, and that by fragmenting the student’s learning experience into artificial categories, the student is working in a way that isn’t reflecting the reality of the world around them.  

Education that is truly integrative also encourages an integration of intellectual, emotional, physical and social skills within the individual. It integrates the learner with the world in which we live; the societies that are fluctuating around them; and the planet that so desperately needs more understanding and support from humanity.  

Why does Crossfields Institute embrace IE? 

For Crossfields Institute, there are three ways that education can be described as ‘integrative’. For us, integrative education: 

  1. Engages the whole person – both teacher and student. They use and develop their mental, physical and emotional skills.

  2. Connects the learner and their learning to their daily life. Their own experiences become valuable in their learning; their learning is useful in their own lives, within their particular context. The student’s educational experience remains relevant for them, and continues to do so as they leave the educational setting and move out into the world. 

  3. Connects or combines both different subjects and the skills those subjects seek to develop. 

Education that is integrative will – we believe – be more engaging, more enlightening, more meaningful. Students will have the chance to love what they learn and apply it wherever it is most needed in their lives. 

The good and the great 

So, what advantages can this way of learning produce for the learner? 

Arguably, integrative education: 

  • Better prepares students for a swiftly-changing world, one that isn’t divided into subjects. 

  • Allows students to come up with better ideas and solutions, when looking at a project or problem as a whole, rather than by dividing their thinking. 

  • Encourages students to apply their skillsets in a fluid and dynamic way, rather than trying to approach something with a fixed mindset. 

More broadly, we can see that humanity is facing some serious challenges, with increasing numbers of crises threatening us at every level. Things have to change, and education is a crucial part of that. Our education systems are not currently enabling people to function happily, healthily or sustainably in the world. 

The challenges and reservations 

Although there are clear problems with education, it’s still an unnerving idea to many that everything about the current system needs to be overhauled in favour of something different, a move into the unknown. However, integrative education isn’t a new concept. Pedagogical experts have mooted, examined and proposed IE ideas for over a century (Kilpatrick’s The Project Method was published in 1918!) 

Yet, in many of the world’s mainstream education systems, IE has not been implemented in any meaningful way. There are reasons for this: 

  • Time: On a practical level, teachers often don’t have time to collaborate in a way that would make their students’ experience truly integrative. There are many gestures and nods towards IE (numeracy in your English lessons anyone?) but these do not make the educational experience truly integrative, and therefore don’t bring along its benefits. 

  • Organisation: There has to be some way to organise the educational experience. And there are advantages to structuring the students’ day so they learn a certain set of skills, and are able to focus on one thing at a time. Also, even if they did work on a multi-disciplinary project, they’d need to break that down into manageable chunks. Some argue that subject-silos are an effective way to do this. 

  • Change: Embracing IE fully requires big changes to be made. Large-scale reforms are difficult and often unpopular at first, making it an unappealing job both for educators and the politicians who may direct or enable such reforms at a national level. 

However, these challenges can be met and mitigated by the right IE system. One that allows teachers to collaborate; one that recognises the importance of specialist knowledge, but doesn’t restrict teachers and learners within subject silos; one that is organised and purposeful; one that works with education settings to support and implement the changes in a manageable way.  

Where to begin 

At Crossfields, our IE suite aims to allow all students to achieve their best and stay engaged. It’s also more inclusive than the current exam-based system, because it uses a fairer, wider range of assessment such as portfolios, presentation and performance. The courses run at both Level 2 and Level 3. Schools and organisations who adopt the IE qualifications are given support and teachers are offered training, to ensure they feel comfortable with and capable of delivering the materials.  

Find out more about the IE suite 

Level 4 Award in Internal Quality Assurance

New Level 4 Award in Internal Quality Assurance

Crossfields Institute Level 4 Award in Internal Quality Assurance (Integrative Approach)

This fully-online qualification is aimed at those who have a responsibility for the quality assurance of assessment practice within their organisation. It will help them to understand how to recognise good practice and undertake the role of internal quality assurance to meet the requirements of their own organisation and/or of external organisations such as an awarding organisation. 

There is a knowledge component within this programme that focuses on the principles and practices of internal quality assurance and a skills component where the learner is required to demonstrate their skills through naturally occurring evidence.

The knowledge component of this programme will help the learner to understand the need to identify good practice before being able to put the different techniques of planning and undertaking the role (that will be explored through taught session and discussion) into practice. The learner will have the opportunity to create their own internal quality assurance process or critically reflect on their organisation’s existing process.

Why this course?

  • Mapped against National Occupational Standards
  • All assessment is covered, including observation
  • Up to three one-to-one mentoring sessions included

Our curriculum

The award will cover:

  • Identifying good practice in assessment
  • Plans, processes and techniques of internal quality assurance
  • The importance of effective quality assurance
  • Planning internal quality assurance
  • Undertaking IQA activity
  • Managing IQA information
  • Maintaining legal and good practice

Our faculty

  • Marisa Godfrey (Head of Centre, Crossfields Learning)
  • Andrea Brandão (Senior Lecturer, Crossfields Learning)
  • Julie Smith (Founder, Enable Assessment)

Further information

The price of the course is £750 (£625 for existing centres).

To apply for a place, please click here to complete our application form.

If you would like to download the course brochure, click here.

For more detailed information about all aspects of the IQA award, including learning hours, faculty, fees, delivery dates and certification, email dialogue@crossfieldsinstitute.com

About Crossfields Institute

Crossfields Institute is an educational charity specialising in holistic and integrative education and research. The Institute develops specialist qualifications which aim to support the development of autonomous students with the intellectual rigour, practical skills, social responsibility and ability to think creatively and act decisively.

Crossfields Institute
Stroud House | Russell Street | Stroud GL5 3AN | United Kingdom
T: +44 (0) 1453 808118
Company no: 06503063 | Charity no: 1124859

New Level 7 PPIE Certificate Launched

New Level 7 PPIE Certificate Launched for 2022


Crossfields Institute Level 7 Certificate in the Philosophy and Practice of Integrative Education

This fully-online qualification introduces a range of integrative theories and approaches to education.

It was developed in response to the major social, environmental and technological changes that are being experienced globally, and the changing skills and competences that young people need.

As a response to these challenges, many educators are now experimenting with new approaches to teaching and learning with the aim of nurturing capacities such as creative thinking, empathy, resilience and resourcefulness.

Who should apply?

  • School leaders
  • Teachers
  • Curriculum designers
  • Those thinking of a career in teaching
  • Home school practitioners

Our curriculum

The certificate will cover:

  • Integrative approaches to teaching and learning
  • Contemporary approaches to educational practice
  • Student wellbeing
  • Lesson planning and implementation
  • The teaching role in an organisational context
  • Colleagueship and collaboration
  • Classroom leadership
  • Peer-mentoring networks
  • Holistic and formative assessment

Our faculty and key speakers

  • Lorraine Teviotdale (Scotland)
  • Andrea Brandão (Finland)
  • Jonathan Code (UK)
  • Toby Cann (UK)
  • Sven Saar (UK)
  • Silke Weiss (Germany)
  • Dr Bronwen Haralambous (Australia)
  • Dr Eeva Raunela (Finland)

Cost

£1500 (staged payments available)

Further information

To apply for a place on the course, please click here to complete our application form.

If you would like to download the course brochure, click here.

For more detailed information about all aspects of PPIE, including learning hours, faculty, fees, delivery dates and certification, email dialogue@crossfieldsinstitute.com

About Crossfields Institute

Crossfields Institute is an educational charity specialising in holistic and integrative education and research. The Institute develops specialist qualifications which aim to support the development of autonomous students with the intellectual rigour, practical skills, social responsibility and ability to think creatively and act decisively.

Crossfields Institute
Stroud House | Russell Street | Stroud GL5 3AN | United Kingdom
T: +44 (0) 1453 808118
Company no: 06503063 | Charity no: 1124859

PPIE Flyer 2022

Exciting New Modular Qualification – Enrolling for 2022

Crossfields Institute Level 7 Diploma in the Philosophy and Practice of Integrated Education

Philosophy and Practice of Integrative Education (PPIE) is an innovative, international teacher development programme that is now entering its fifth year. The main aim of this postgraduate level programme is to inspire teachers to develop their own practice drawing on relevant theory and on their own capacity for critical and reflective inquiry. For the January 2022 intake we have made a significant change, which is that PPIE can now be taken as separate, stand-alone short courses. This enables you to be more selective about what you study and to complete the programme at your own pace. General information about the programme is given below. For more detailed information, visit: www.crossfieldsinstitute.com/learning/#ppie

For more detailed information about all aspects of PPIE, including learning hours,
faculty, fees, delivery dates and certification, please visit:
www.crossfieldsinstitute.com/learning/#ppie or email dialogue@crossfieldsinstitute.com

Crossfields Institute
Stroud House | Russell Street | Stroud GL5 3AN | United Kingdom
T: +44 (0) 1453 808118
Company no: 06503063 | Charity no: 1124859

Early Childhood Qualifications Re-Launched

Early Childhood Qualifications Re-Launched

Crossfields Institute Early Years qualifications

After many years of working collaboratively with NCFE CACHE, Crossfields Institute are delighted to announce the re-launch of following qualifications:

Crossfields Institute Level 3 Diploma in Holistic Baby and Child Care (Early Years Educator)
Crossfields Institute Level 4 Diploma in Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Studies (EYE)
Crossfields Institute Level 5 Diploma in Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Studies – Leadership and Management

These qualifications were previously awarded through NCFE CACHE but will now be part of the Crossfields Institute suite of qualifications NCFE CACHE made the following statement about the qualifications:

“NCFE CACHE has worked with Crossfields Institute since 2013 and would like to wish students following these qualifications the best of luck as they embark on their studies. These specialist qualifications are of quality, robust in both content and assessment and they offer insight into the expertise, skills and professional approach needed to practice in an early childhood setting.”

Below is some further information about each of the qualifications:

 

Crossfields Institute Level 3 Diploma in Holistic Baby and Child Care (Early Years Educator)

The aim of this qualification is to provide the learner with the expertise, skills and professional approach needed to become an EYE qualified holistic early years practitioner, and includes classroom based and placement hours. This qualification prepares learners to use a Steiner Waldorf and Pikler approach to baby and early child education and care, appropriate to holistic and mainstream settings.

Learners completing this qualification may proceed directly to work in an early childhood setting, for example in the role of an early years educator, adult and child group leader, or childminder and carer of children under 3 years, in a Steiner Waldorf or mainstream setting. Learners can also progress to the NCFE CACHE Level 4 Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Studies (EYE) (VRQ).

Learners interested in studying this qualification should contact Emerson College, East Sussex +44 (0)1342 822 238; +44 (0)1342 826 055 or email registrar@emerson.org.uk

 

Crossfields Institute Level 4 Diploma in Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Studies (EYE)
Crossfields Institute Level 5 Diploma in Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Studies – Leadership and Management

These Crossfields Institute qualifications were originally created in collaboration with subject specialists including London Steiner Kindergarten Training Company Ltd and Dorothy Marlen in order to provide the learner with the expertise, skills and professional approach needed to be an holistic early childhood educator.

Learners interested in studying this qualification should contact either The London Steiner Kindergarten Training Company by contacting the course administrator Suzanne Leek at: Suzanne.Leek@ntlworld.com. The London Steiner Kindergarten Training Company based in London with residentials in Gloucestershire.

Alternatively, learners can also contact North of England Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Studies by contacting the course coordinator Jill Taplin at Jill@neswec.org.uk or telephone 01782 504567. This course is based in York with residentials in the Midlands.

 

Any organisations wishing to deliver this qualification should contact Crossfields Institute at info@crossfieldsinstitute.com or 01453 808118. Crossfields Institute is a Gloucestershire based education charity, approved by Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations in England) as an awarding organisation. The Institute specialises in the development of specialist qualifications for providers with a particular vision or ethos.

New Centre Approved

New Centre Approved

Crossfields Institute is delighted to announce that Westwood Training and Consultancy has been approved by Crossfields Institute to deliver the NCFE CACHE Level 3 and Level 4 Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy.

NCFE CACHE Level 3 & 4 Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy

This qualification is open for registrations from 19 July 2021.

NCFE CACHE has worked collaboratively with the Crossfields Institute to develop these specialist level 3 and 4 Early Years qualifications.
In collaboration with NCFE CACHE, the Institute is responsible for the ongoing delivery, and centre quality assurance of this qualification. As specialist qualifications they have particular requirements which all centres must meet in order to gain qualification approval in terms of both staff expertise and resources.

Westwood Training and Consultancy (WTC) offers quality, affordable Montessori and Early Years training in a working Montessori environment. Situated within the grounds of an Ofsted outstanding Montessori nursery and pre-school, they offer hands on collaborative learning ensuring that far from being just an academic exercise, their training ‘lives’ for their learners and is delivered by practicing Montessorians.

Crossfields Institute is a Gloucestershire based education charity, approved by Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations in England) as an awarding organisation. The Institute specialises in the development of specialist qualifications for providers with a particular vision or ethos.

Michelle Wisbey Mont Dip, BA Hons, MA, PGCE (Montessorian of the Year 2015), leads a team of experienced lecturers and trainers, all of whom have studied with Montessori Centre International in London. With several years of experience, they provide both face to face and blended learning with full tutor support with learning taking place in a supportive, comfortable and fully equipped environment.

Our Story

“As dedicated Montessorians and the team behind four Ofsted outstanding nurseries and pre-schools it became evident that regional training in Montessori Pedagogy was essential to maintain the quality of teaching in the more rural areas. Working closely with Montessori Centre International (MCI), we established ourselves as an accredited regional centre for the south-east and surrounding area and provided a much needed service for all our keen and committed Montessorians. We are now an independently accredited training centre and continue to deliver the Montessori qualification, alongside other qualifications and courses.”

A Silver Lining: The Orchard Project Provides a “Lifeline” During the Pandemic

A Silver Lining: The Orchard Project Provides a “Lifeline” During the Pandemic

In August 2020, 17 new students gathered in London’s Valentine Park for their first training session of The Orchard Project’s Crossfields Institute Level 3 Certificate in Community Orcharding or CICO course. Unknowingly, this was the one of the few times that the participants would enjoy the physical presence of group gathering for many months to come. The winter lockdown has been gruelling and long, but many of the CICO students have found the course to be a light in the dark; not only a means of maintaining regular contact with others, but also a welcome distraction to learn new skills. It has even become a source for hope amidst the employment crisis hitting many sectors.

Rather than cancel the CICO course when the pandemic struck, Training Manager, Jo Homan, worked tirelessly to transform the course into a blended format: a mix of online study with in-person, practical sessions outdoors. The students who were already enrolled on the sixth delivery of the course, had to adapt to learning online last November. Those who’ve registered on the new blended course will enjoy five in-person sessions try out new skills, like pruning and grafting, while respecting the social-distance safety measures. But the online training sessions are proving successful in allowing students to feel connected, both to each other and to our brilliant team of tutors.

“There is a real sense of community and support within our group of teachers and students alike, – even though we have had some training days online;” says Liz, one of the students. “I’ve found this invaluable during this Pandemic.”

Rosa and Sharon, who completed the CICO course in December 2020

The online component of the course involves training videos, presentations and interactive quizzes. It is proving popular! In the words of current student, Maggie:

“Like many others I have found keeping positive during lockdown a bit of a challenge at times. Having the CICO course has helped and supported me in ways I never imagined. It has delivered in spadefuls! Brilliantly crafted with each module flowing organically into the next… and listening to the (online) presentations with orchard birdsong, I can feel myself relaxing.”

As well as forging connections during an isolating time, the CICO course is also opening up new career pathways for some students. We are yet to know the full economic impact of the pandemic, but is it already being acutely felt by many at an individual level: Liz lost her job in the theatre sector during the first lockdown. Rather than face the difficult prospect of job-hunting during uncertain times, she decided to harness her desire to help tackle climate change; signing-up to the CICO course seemed like a great way to do this.

Liz plants a tree in the community allotment nursery, which she established while studying for the CICO certificate.

“This course is a lifeline, enabling me to change career direction and give me hope for the future”, Liz says. “On the first day, learning about the …layers of biodiversity as we sat under the shade of a huge mulberry tree… I knew it was perfect for me.”

The CICO course takes students on a journey lasting almost a year, allowing for familiarity with the orchard in every season. It provides a chance to not only learn about every aspect of orchards, but also to build strong connections with course-mates and with the natural world.

lla and Tana hone their pruning skills. They graduated from the CICO course during the pandemic in December 2020

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit the course info page on The Orchard Project’s website  or see the qualification specification on the Crossfields Institute website here.

Article adapted from https://www.theorchardproject.org.uk/news/a-silver-lining-orchard-course-provides-a-lifeline-during-the-pandemic/

New therapeutic care qualification launched!

New therapeutic care qualification launched!

Crossfields Institute and Mulberry Bush are delighted to announce the launch of:

Crossfields Institute Level 2 Award in Working with Trauma

This qualification is open for registrations from 14th January 2021.

This Crossfields Institute qualification was created in collaboration with Mulberry Bush to equip learners with the basic knowledge, understanding and skills to work effectively and empathetically with children and young people. This qualification is designed for people who work across the childcare sector, whether in education, health or social care, to help them work effectively and empathetically with children and young people who have experienced trauma.

  • Any learners who are interested in finding out more about this qualification should contact Mulberry Bush on 01865 300202 or at info@mulberrybush.org.uk
  • Any organisations wishing to deliver this qualification should contact Crossfields Institute at info@crossfieldsinstitute.com or 01453 808118

Crossfields Institute is a Gloucestershire based education charity, approved by Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations in England) as an awarding organisation. The Institute specialises in the development of specialist qualifications for providers with a particular vision or ethos.

The Mulberry Bush is a charity. Since 1948, we have worked tirelessly to meet the needs of emotionally troubled and traumatised children, their families and communities. We have since extended our charitable objectives to enable us to support adults who may have experienced childhood trauma via our specialist services, which now include training and research.