The Froebel Network issue 9 Spring 2016

Our network newsletter is for all those interested in promoting a Froebelian education for children. We are particularly keen to expand our ‘network’ so please circulate this newsletter as widely as possible and ask your colleagues to contact me to have their name added to the membership list.

In this issue you’ll see lots of references to the growing number of ‘training’ opportunities. Since the National Froebel Foundation ceased accrediting initial teacher training in the UK, some years ago, there have been less and less practitioners who call themselves Froebel-trained. However with the reintroduction of the Froebel Certificate courses at Roehampton and Edinburgh and the proposed course at Canterbury, together with the ‘Froebel Trainers’ course currently being piloted by Yellow Dot Nurseries in the New Forest area (see article), there are a growing number of new practitioners who can again proudly call themselves ‘Froebel-trained’.

It is also encouraging to see that ‘Froebel’ is again being cited in a major report (see News from Edinburgh), Froebelian Education was frequently cited in Government reports, until the focus on ‘outcome based education’ and ‘school readiness’ took hold. In the current challenging educational climate it is perhaps more important than ever that we as Froebelians act as advocates for the principles we believe in to be promoted and valued in the early years.

Email: Hunter Editor


Froebel Trust Trainers Project

Project Leaders: Tina Bruce CBE, Stella Louis and Helen Tovey

It has long been an aim, visioned by Tina Bruce, that there should be a team of trainers (which Tina calls ‘Travelling Tutors’) to roll-out Froebel training across the UK, in particular an accredited Froebel Certificate Course, and other two-day ‘dip-in’ courses. These would be delivered by Froebel Trust endorsed trainers and provided at the request of local authorities or groups of nursery providers in a particular area.

The vision has taken a step nearer reality with a pilot currently running for a chain of nurseries in the New Forest area. Yellow Dot Nursery Group was founded by teacher Jane Dyke 11 years ago. It has 11 sites and Jane has funded 31 senior staff to take part in the pilot which started in October. It is running over six taught sessions completing in June 2016. Tina Bruce has brought together a team of 10 experienced Froebelians to develop and deliver the programme, which is being led by Tina, Stella Louis and Helen Tovey. A full evaluation of the pilot will be carried out over the summer with a plan that if it proves successful the training can be promoted nationally and rolled out from 2017.

Pamphlet project

Project Leader: Dr Jane Read

The Froebel Trust will shortly be launching the publication of a series of ‘online’ pamphlets focussing on various themes closely associated with Froebelian practice today. The pamphlets, written by authors and practitioners who are experts in their field, will be fully illustrated and designed for either reading online or downloading.

The first three in the series are due out during the next few months. The first in the series is by Lucy Parker on Clay. This will be followed by the second pamphlet focussing on Outdoor Play by Helen Tovey. The third pamphlet in the series is entitled A Froebelian approach to behaviour management: Respecting the Child written by Amanda Norman.

It is hoped that further series of leaflets can be produced and Jane Read, who is editing the series, would be delighted to hear of possible contributors to future titles. Jane is suggesting that the next three pamphlets could be on blocks; songs and finger play; and a further aspect of outdoor learning. If you think you could contribute authorship to these titles or have other Froebelian related topics you would like to suggest please contact Jane


The Froebel Trust funds two international educational projects, led by Froebelian practitioners from the UK. One is nearing its completion in Soweto, South Africa after a seven year programme and the other, in Kolkata India was initiated three years ago. Here is their latest news….

Make it Happen
Soweto, South Africa

Project Leaders: Tina Bruce CBE, Stella Louis and Georgie McCall

During 2016 we plan to continue our work in Soweto with the hub and linked schools. The work so far has proved itself appropriate to become a model for working with a wider range of schools in South Africa. The aim is to spread Froebelianism across half of South Africa.

By working closely with colleagues in Gauteng and Western Cape we hope to reach trainers serving 60% of the population of South African children. We are also developing our links with the highly regarded Centre for Early Childhood Development as well as maintaining our work with the University of Johannesburg and the demonstration school in their grounds. The aim of the project has always been to avoid a dependency model and we now feel the seeds have been securely sown and will continue to grow through the networks that we have developed. We hope our work will culminate in a national Conference in March 2017 in Cape Town funded by the Froebel Trust, allowing 120 delegates involved in the project to gather together. We also hope the conference will connect with and include Advisory and Inspection senior officials of the Social Development Agency and Early Childhood Education. The working title for the Conference is MAKE IT HAPPEN, with an emphasis on workshops and practical work.We hope the conference will bring together all parties to spread the learning of the last 7 years.

Class based Training
Kolkata, India

Project Leaders: Sara Holroyd and Jill Leyberg

We are in our third year of training teachers at the now nine Nabadisha (New Dawn) Schools run jointly by the Kolkata police and the NGO Parivar Charitable Foundation led by Anindita Tamta. Our class based approach, where we are able to demonstrate Froebelian ideas, activities and organisation with the children, has been very successful.

We now have a group of teachers who have taken on board Froebelian ideas and are at the stage where they are beginning to make a real difference to the education of the children in their care. These practitioners are also beginning to share ideas with their colleagues and are evaluating new ideas and resources with reference to Froebelian principles. Gradually they are beginning to turn the tide on the formal teacher directed rote learning which their colleagues and children are so familiar with.

Some of the teachers are working in the most challenging of environments, for example Mongal Paswan from the North Port School works in a corridor 10 feet from a railway line and surrounded by rubble and up to 40 children ages 3 to 16, and yet is enthused and excited about developing a Froebelian approach.

We are now looking forward to a second phase in the work. With a strong commitment from Parivar to continue and develop this work in their schools, we will explore the possibility of establishing link with other practitioners in Kolkata who are interested in a Froebelian approach using Parivar as a model. We are looking at ways of ensuring the project work is sustained in some form and the possibility of accredited Froebel courses being made available would be a substantive outcome for the project.


The Froebel Certificate in Early Childhood course

The Froebel Certificate course for 2015/2016 is approaching its final taught session after which the participants will be producing their end of course presentations on a Froebelian topic.

This year there will be 11 participants completing the course two of these are completing at Level 4 and the remaining nine at Level 6.

Participants come from a variety of educational backgrounds and include a Montessori  trainer, three nursery/private school teachers, teaching assistants from nursery, reception and primary classes, an HLTA who is going on to train as teacher in September and a key worker in private nursery who was formerly head teacher of a nursery in Prague.

Anyone interested in the course for next year should keep an eye of the University of Roehampton website for details as they become available. However details of the present course will give an outline of the course structure and fees etc:

Children’s well-being as a central concern:Implications for practice and policy in the early years

Conference: Saturday 4th June 2016
Grove House, Froebel College University
of Roehampton

Current research highlighting Froebelian principles of well-being related to:

  • Baseline assessment
  • Infant emotions and interactions
  • Parent and caregiver perspectives
  • Pedagogic documentation
  • Musical play
  • Re-conceptualising professional development
  • Technology and young childrenDiscussion of original research by members of the Early Childhood Research Centre. Cost: £29.95 for delegates and £19.95 for students. Conference supported by the Early Childhood Research Centre and The Froebel Trust Places are limited: Please book online:


The MA in Early Childhood Studies

Perhaps more than at any time, babies, young children and their families rely on an early years workforce that is deeply knowledgeable in their practice, theory and research and can be confident and powerful advocates for early childhood.

The MA ECS at Roehampton is all about supporting and developing that capacity for advocacy. It has been evolving and building experience in its work with experienced practitioners and post graduate students for over 15 years. In 2014, the Programme was completely reviewed and re-validated by the University, strengthening its underpinning in Froebelian Principles and informed by the pedagogy of Paulo Freire. Students are part of the Early Childhood Research Centre at the University and draw on the world famous Froebel Archive. Last year more people applied to study for the MA than ever before and we now have around 40 students, from the UK and internationally, bringing enormous experience and expertise to their studies and to the University.

Study Bursaries for the MA Early Childhood Studies

The Froebel Trust, which is committed to the development of theory and practice in Froebelian education and to increasing the numbers of Froebelian-trained educators, has agreed to fund a Scholarship Award to enable suitably qualified students to undertake the MA in Early Childhood Studies at the University of Roehampton. The Award will be explicitly linked to Froebelian principles, and successful applicants will be expected to be able to demonstrate familiarity with these in their prior professional experience and/or academic study.

The Trust will award up to 2 full-time equivalent Scholarships and these may be held full-time or part-time.

Each Scholarship will be as follows:

  1. For UK and EU students, to the value of the UK and EU tuition fee for the MA which is currently £5800.  (Should the successful applicant be a graduate of The University of Roehampton, the student will be eligible for a 20% discount and the award will be reduced pro rata), OR
  2. If the student has alternative funding for their tuition fee, then the award will be a  Grant for maintenance costs of £5800, OR
  3. If the student is classified as paying International Fees, then the Award will be equivalent to the UK and EU fee, currently £5800.

Further information about the Programme and about the Scholarship Award can be obtained from the Programme Convenor, Dr Peter Elfer


7th Annual Baby Room Conference

Friday 15 April 2016 at Canterbury Christ Church University

Anyone whose work or study involves the care, learning and development of babies and young children from birth to two is invited to this conference, organised by the Research Centre For Children, Families And Communities.

The conference will take place on Friday 15 April 2016 at Canterbury Christ Church University (55 mins by high speed train from London St Pancras).

Speakers include: Professor Carmen Dalli (New Zealand), Susanna Kalitowski (PACEY UK) & Dr Doris Cheng (Hong Kong).Link: Baby Room Conference

The Place of the Child in 21st Century Society

Canterbury Christ Church University, 5th to 7th May 2016

OMEP UK in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University has great pleasure in inviting you to participate in the OMEP 2016 European Conference to be held at Canterbury Christ Church University from 5th -7th May 2016: Conference Home Page

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘The place of the child in 21st Century Society’. In a time of conflict and challenge internationally it is vital that we focus on the importance of quality pre-school education experiences for children and families. There will be an opportunity to visit pre-schools and you will be able to sign up for visits in advance.

There is an impressive line-up of keynote speakers and workshop leaders please see the Conference Flyer for more information.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Canterbury this May.

Annual Froebel Conference

Canterbury Christ Church University

We will be holding our annual Froebel conference at Canterbury later this year.

Full details will be circulated through the Froebel Network as soon as possible.

University Certificate in Froebelian Theory and Practice

The University is hoping to start a new course along the lines of the successful courses already running at Roehampton an Edinburgh.

Please contact Mrs Yordanka Valkanova, Programme Director: University Certificate in Froebelian Theory and Practice.Email:


Edinburgh Masterclass:
Children’s narratives in play and the stories they tell

The Edinburgh Network has been running a series of ‘Masterclasses’. These are open to former ‘Certificate’ students who meet together to share their practice and reflect on reading and developments. The Masterclasses have been looking at children's narratives in play and the stories they tell. The aim to produce a series of case studies showing the relevance of Froebelian approaches today.

6th Certificate Course at Edinburgh University

It doesn’t seem possible but the Froebel Certificate Course at The University of Edinburgh now has its 6th cohort of students. This year there are 40 practitioners taking the course, from all across the central belt of Scotland.

“Independent Review of the Scottish Early Learning and Childcare Workforce” (2015) has a recommended that:

“Universities and other Higher Education Institutions should consider offering conversion and upskilling courses (such as the well-known Froebel training) for current primary trained teachers [wishing to work in the early years]….”.

This is certainly confirming recognition of the high regard that the course has now established.

Within the course members, there is a rich mix of backgrounds and experience to draw on and share. Feedback from students is very positive. The first assignment, a reflective account, was completed in January and students are beginning to think about their development projects by identifying an aspect to research in more depth and take forward in practice.

Annual conference in the Autumn

Following our successful conference las year, we are now getting together our programme for the next annual conference in Edinburgh in the autumn. Full details will be circulated to Network members as soon as they are available and will appear on the Froebel Trust website.


The Froebel Trust has a very active Research Committee which funds academic research into a range of topics with an Early Years focus. Past research has been both cutting edge and influential in shaping policy and practice. Here’s an update on the current work of the Research Committee

Reports just out
The Froebel Research Committee (FRC) has received two new reports following commissioned work

  • The small child, or the importance of a baby’s activities - Developing naturalistic observations of young children in contemporary nurseries as a Frobelian Practice by Peter Elfer, School of Education, University of Roehampton
  • Principled Encounters in Daycare for Babies - Froebel’s Legacy by Sacha Powell and Kathy Goouch, Christchurch Canterbury.Information about these and further research is on the Trust website. Please do have a look! PhD BursariesFRC has also awarded two new PhD bursaries in the year. A number of applications were received and these two are outstanding. They are:
  1. The Effect of War and Displacement on the Play of Young Iraqi and Syrian Child Refugees living in Lebanon, being undertaken by Sandra Marie El Gemayel and supervised by Dr Rosie Flewitt at University College London, Institute of Education

  2. Reconceptualising professional development in early childhood education and care, being undertaken by Valeria Scacchi and supervised by Professor Mathias Urban at University of Roehampton.

New research

The Trust is expanding its programme of both Education and Research work. Please do keep an eye on the website for these things too. The Trust should be making announcements very shortly.

Froebel Research Committee chair: Dr Peter Elfer

Programme Convenor, MA Early Childhood Studies, Roehampton.

FEATURE: The Forgotten Progressive’ -
Edmond Holmes and English Education

Two Froebel network members joined the ICHRE seminar at the Institute of Education presented by John Howlett of Keele University last month on Edmund Holmes – the Forgotten Progressive.

John introduced his talk by describing Holmes as one of the finest educators in the UK and one of the most influential writers on Progressive Education of the 20th century, and yet his name and his prolific outpouring of books and journal articles are relatively forgotten today.

Holmes had been an Inspector of Schools from the age of 24 and remained so throughout his career. By 1905 he was appointed HM Chief inspector of Elementary Schools, a post which he retained until his retirement in 1910, at the age of 60. Holmes’s greatest educational contribution was however made the following year, when in 1911 he wrote ‘What Is and What Might Be’. This publication gave a very critical account of the system of education then in place, in particular the ‘mechanical’ nature of the school curriculum determined by and large through the examination and ‘results-led’ approach. Schools, he felt, focussed on ‘delivering’ information. This ‘information’ approach only laid an ‘external’ veneer on the surface of the child’s mind, whereas he felt to gain true knowledge, ‘internal wisdom’, the teacher needed to look at the ‘inward’ growth of the child. This was very much based on the Froebelian ideas of the natural growth of the child. Having described the existing system as he saw it, ‘What Is’, he then went on to describe the ‘What Might Be’. This was a description of a school he called ‘Utopia’ led by a visionary teacher called Egeria. It was later revealed that the description of the school was based on his visits, whilst an inspector, to Little Sompting School in West Sussex, led by a Miss Harriet Finlay-Johnson.
At Sompting, Finlay-Johnson had taken the Froebelian kindergarten approach and extended it across the elementary school age-range providing a creative, holistic, non-compartmentalised, curriculum. In particular she developed a curriculum throughout the school based around imaginative drama and active engagement. Holmes later went on to give a deeper account of the ‘Utopian’ school, with the publication of ‘In Defence of What Might Be’ in 1914.

Like Froebel, Holmes was also fascinated by the spiritual dimension of the whole child and spent much of his later writing exploring this dimension in greater depth, particularly the influences of the far-east.

John presented a fascinating introduction to Edmond Holmes, and the exceptional first-hand insight he provides into the neo-Froebelian attitudes of the early 20th century. John has just completed a book on Edmond Holmes and it is due for publication in the September.

I will let you know when the book is available.                Mark Hunter


7th Biennial Conference:
What does it mean to understand Froebel?
Working on, with and according to Froebel today

Lutheran Froebel Training Institute, Kassel, Germany, 23-25 June 2016

 We see today, nationally and internationally, a broad variety of opportunities to explore Froebel pedagogy in terms of both theoretical and/or practical interests.There is much about the “authentic” Froebel as well as modernized interpretations and practical transfer into concrete kindergarten work. An important aim of the conference is to provide a forum for the different forms of work and research on, with and according to Froebel worldwide, and to offer opportunities for dialogue and mutual exchange about individuals’ access to and the handling of Froebelian pedagogy.

The conference seeks not only to explore some of the potentially endless possibilities of understanding and putting Froebel into practice; it also seeks to analyse critically the many means of applying Froebel: on the one hand it seems clear that there is not only one “correct” way of interpreting Froebel and of working with him, on the other, it is not true that any and every form of Froebel adaptation can hence be considered as “correct” and “legitimate” and be respected as such.

The following researchers have consented to deliver keynotes:
Prof. Dr. Frithjof Grell (University of Bamberg, Germany)
Prof. Dr. Helen May (University of Otago, New Zealand) President IFS

Prof. Dr. Michael Winkler (University of Jena, Germany)
Prof. Dr. Helmut Heiland (University of Duisburg, Germany)

The conference languages are English and German.

Early Bird Discounted Bookings are now open visit: for the link to the registration page.