Montessori sector writes open letter to Secretary of State for Education

The Maria Montessori Institute recently came together with the UK’s other Montessori training organisations to organise The Montessori Conference 2019. Over 750 people attended this event celebrating 100 years of Montessori training in the UK. Together we have written an open letter to Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education calling for changes to key policy areas where the Montessori approach could benefit children across the UK. Here is the open letter:

The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE
Secretary of State for Education
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

1 October 2019

Dear Minister,

We applaud the recent decision to award an extra £66 million to the Early Years with specific focus on the funding of 15 and 30 hours of childcare for 3 – 5 year olds.  However, the Montessori community remain concerned about development of our youngest children and the direction of travel current policies outline for their learning.

On Saturday 28 September, at The Montessori Conference 2019 in London, the Montessori community celebrated the centenary of the first Montessori teacher training in the United Kingdom.  This training was the first international lecture tour Montessori conducted and since that time Montessori education has become an international movement with over 20,000 nurseries and schools worldwide and more than 800 in the United Kingdom, attended by over 40,000 children.  The Montessori approach has made a significant contribution to the foundations of early years education in this country and continues to demonstrate its efficacy globally to this day.  Its far-reaching benefits are borne out by the success of graduates of Montessori schools such as the founders of Google, Facebook and Amazon – who have publicly attributed their achievements to their Montessori beginnings.

Montessori nurseries and schools in the UK have consistently demonstrated high quality early years provision not only within the private sector but also when introduced in the Foundation units of state primary schools, and the Montessori community in England has actively engaged with the development of early years policy . The focus of our recent conference has been to share research findings relating to the benefits of Montessori education for children living in marginalised communities and developing children’s executive functioning, motor and language skills to support school readiness.

With these achievements and our pioneering legacy in mind, The Montessori Conference 2019 has produced a call to action which we now share with you, and with policy makers.  Our call to action is supported by the current literature review of the EYFS as commissioned by the Early Years Coalition and presented in the Department of Education on Thursday 18 September.

Call to Action

  • Extend the Early Years Foundation Stage to cover Key Stage One to ensure that young children have time to develop secure foundations and dispositions for learning.
  • Scrap the baseline assessment currently piloted with four year olds within the first four weeks of their attendance in a reception class. It does not provide reliable evidence of their capacity for future learning and it puts very young children under pressure at a time when they do not have the cognitive capacity or emotional resilience for such a test.
  • Address the status of the early years Montessori teacher – both in terms of being able to gain funding for their training and being paid in line with qualified teachers.
  • Ensure that a sustainability programme becomes a significant element of early childhood education fostering care and responsibility for each other and our planet.

We would like to invite you to visit a Montessori school to experience the Montessori approach in action.

Yours sincerely,

On behalf of the Montessori community

Montessori Centre International, Maria Montessori Institute, Bournemouth Montessori Centre and The Montessori Partnership.