Early Years Team members visit Italy


Two members of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Early Years Team have just returned from the Loris Malaguzzi Centre, Reggio Emilia in Italy which is famous for its early years practice methods, and which has heavily influenced Early Years education in Wales.  

Ymweliad Tim Blynyddoedd Cynnar i Reggio Emilia

It was an opportunity for Natasha Jones from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Early Years team to network internationally with over 420 invitees across the world, bringing the expertise back to Wales in order to influence the sector more widely. This opportunity was funded by the Taith Mobility Programme. 

Taith is a new programme enabling people in Wales to study, train, volunteer, and work all over the world while allowing organisations in Wales to invite international partners and learners to do the same in Wales. Its purpose is to create opportunities to broaden horizons, experience new ways of life, and bring back lessons to share with people at home.

Lecturer Natasha Young said:

“Reggio Emilia’s attitude to early years education and care is famous and highly respected across the globe, but experiencing it, directly, and having the opportunity to develop my own understanding has been wonderful. Visiting infant and young children’s centres and nursery schools, taking part in perceptive and educational seminars and workshops and being immersed in the tradition, history and culture of the Reggio Emilia area has inspired me to bring that information and understanding back to our students, not to support their own personal development but to improve the opportunities and experiences for children in Wales

Lecturer Natasha Jones described the experience as:

“rich and encouraging; meeting people who were also full of emotions, and ideas regarding how to provide Quality experiences for Young children.

“The ability to enjoy relationships and working with others is at the heart of Reggio Emilia’s teaching method. According to their research, if a child feels appreciated, this builds a strong foundation for learning. Therefore, the current practitioners’ aim is to create a positive relationship with the pupils in order to be able to recognise the potential of each individual child, and to use the information gathered as a resource to drive their education further.”

The majority of the experiences given to children there are practical, including the use of different materials gathered from their local Remida (Recycling  Centre). Primary school children have access to ateliers such as a light, paper, photography, creating marks workshops and many more, which aims to achieve experiences to examine, discover and play. In this instance the adult’s role is that of co-learner in their discoveries. Both were fortunate enough to trial some of these workshops and thinking like a child for a time, which was a very valuable experience.

Natasha Young said:

“The experience was invaluable with regards to seeing and hearing for themselves how this method supports children’s Development holistically, the values of each child such as those who are able and competent, emphasises the importance of relationships and help to develop individuals who are creative, flexible and autonomous learners.

"This teaching is similar to the philosophy here in Wales, with the New Curriculum for Wales and the New Curriculum for Unfunded Nursery Settings aimed at enabling individuals to learn, develop and become co-constructors of their own Learning."

 One of the things Natasha found interesting was the level of trust early years practitioners have in the ‘process’ and respect for children’s choices.

She added:

“The deliberate strategies, the method and Techniques used to support children’s curiosity, problem-solving, critical thinking skills, confidence, independence and autonomy really were worth seeing.”

“Creativity and individualism were obvious throughout, there are opportunities for individuals to inspect and research in ways that satisfied their needs and aspirations at any specific time and the fact that this could look different for every child is celebrated.

“The importance of relationships also stood out to me, relationships that children have with the practitioners, the setting, the world around them, the Resources, themselves and each other, but also beyond that, the staff, families, and community created a real feeling sense of belonging there.”

Although the two recognised that the week at the Centre had been intense and challenging, as they covered 60 years-worth of Research in five days, that didn’t prevent them from experimenting, inspecting and sharing experiences with others.

Certainly, this visit has been vital in sharing and developing expertise and enabled both Natashas and the Early Years team to develop innovative courses and training and to support research that promotes education and early years care of the highest Standard.

Natasha Jones said:

“We’re returning home full of inspiration and admiration, not only for the practice in Reggio Emilia but also the wonderful things being achieved in our Early Years sector here in Wales.”

For more information about Early Years courses, go to the website:



Further Information

Lowri Thomas, Principal Communications and PR Officer

07449 998476