Saturday, 28 April 2018

Integration and Support in Preschool - Churchill Fellow 2018.

Becoming a 2018 Churchill Fellow.

I first heard about the Churchill Travel Fellowship Award a few years ago from a 2008 Fellow - Juliet Robertson  you can read about it here on her blog:
I looked into this as a funding option in 2015 after speaking to Juliet about her topic but was unsuccessful in my application. Then another colleague & fellow eTwinner, mentioned that he had become a 2016 Fellow and I decided to apply again. 
am a nursery teacher in a primary school and usually have 26 three & four year olds in my class each year. I teach in Dungannon, a small rural town in Co. Tyrone that had a huge migrant worker influx in the past 5-6 years and this has had a big impact in our school with more and more pupils coming into the school with English as an additional language.
I was appointed Newcomer Coordinator in my school in September 2016 and part of my remit to see how best to support the children and their families and how to help them integrate into our school community. 
Our school began a 2 year Erasmus Plus KA3 Project in 2016 with the theme of 'InEdu inclusive education model for children with migrant backgrounds in preschools' with partners from Poland, Estonia, Romania, Sweden, Macedonia & Czech Republic. 
In March 2017 I was fortunate to be allocated a place on a British Council International Study Visit to Berlin to look at that city had coped with the refugee crisis in 2015. You can read about that visit over here:
I was so impressed by what I saw but as preschool teacher I was curious about how the younger children were coping with being in a new city, country and preschool and how their families were being supported as they settled into a new city. So I found myself thinking about how this could be a theme for a Churchill Fellowship Award and I duly filled in an application and sent it off. I heard in October I had been selected for an interview in London In January 2018. Honestly I was delighted to just get an interview and didn't really think I had a chance of being offered an actual award. But after a robust interview in January I got a letter last month to say I had been awarded a Fellowship and can look forward to travelling to Germany and Sweden in July, during my summer holidays to research how cities within these 2 countries are supporting and integrating migrant preschoolers and their families. 
This week I was fortunate enough to travel back to London to meet up with other Fellows and hear from those who are also Fellows in the Migration category and from previous Fellows - the stories of my new 'colleagues' were very inspiring and I can't wait to follow along on their travels around the world too. 

Applications are now open for 2019 and I would thoroughly recommend applying to anyone who is interested in travelling to learn more about a topic of interest. You can find all the details here:

I have started another blog that will be somewhere for me to record my travels and reflect on what I see, hear and learn whilst talking to those who are working hard to help insure the youngest migrants are being supported and integrated as they begin their new lives far from home. You can follow it here: