International educators join exchange program, visit UK
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Canada recently visited the United Kingdom as part of a talent exchange program, which saw 16 educators share knowledge about best practice from their own nations perspective, Day Nurseries has reported.
Arranged through employer Busy Bees, the talent exchange program (TEP) began in 2016, with nine Singaporean and Malaysian educators visiting the UK for four weeks. In 2017, nine English educators participated in an immersive exchange to Singapore and Malaysia. The trend has continued in 2018 and 2019, incorporating educators from Australia and Canada as Busy Bees expands into new markets internationally.
Speaking to Day Nurseries about the experience, Ethel Chia, an educator from Singapore, said there were more commonalities than differences between the children in both countries. Ms Chia has been an early childhood teacher for five and a half years.
Her role in Singapore focuses on curriculum planning, teaching, and supporting community engagement. Ms Chia spoke to Day Nurseries about the Singaporean focus on children as active and competent learners, and about the role of the environment as the third teacher, drawing on Reggio Emilia perspectives.
When in the UK, Ms Chia spent time with Busy Bees Derby Silvertrees, an “outstanding” service as rated by UK Regulatory Authority, Ofsted, chosen to participate in the exchange in recognition of the high quality of its professional development.
During the exchange program, Ms Chia noted the difference in educational provision between the two countries. In Singapore, Ms Chia said, there was a higher emphasis on gaining knowledge, with children being exposed to reading and writing in both English and Chinese languages, typically Mandarin, with children typically leaving their early years education bilingual.
Speaking with Day Nurseries about the success of TEP, Simon Irons, Busy Bees CEO, said the program provides educators and senior managers with the opportunity to explore similarities and differences in practice from across the world, and to utilise the collective knowledge of the group.