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Minister for Life Long Learning attends unique Early Years Conference at Dare Valley Park, Wales

Wales is to lead the way in Early Years Education as host of the premier Nature Pedagogy global event.

The 2017 International Skogsmulle Symposium is scheduled to take place at Dare Valley Country Park led by Ignite Unlocking Potential; a RCT Social Enterprise and specialist in Scandinavian Nature Pedagogy and pioneer of Wales’ first Nature Kindergarten.

Ignite Unlocking Potential have announced that Alun Davies AM, and Minister for Life Long Learning is to due to address an international audience of pedagogues at the Skogsmulle Symposium scheduled for 3 – 7 August, 2017.

Ignite Unlocking Potential has been selected to host a triennial conference at Dare Valley Country Park by Friluftsfrämjandet, the Swedish outdoor-life organisation that has embedded Nature Pedagogy across Sweden via the “I Ur och Skur” (Rain or Shine) Nature Kindergarten model that has seen over 250 schools and one in four children experiencing their Early Years education in nature. Internationally, the Skogsmulle pedagogy has been embraced by countries including Finland, Norway, Germany, Latvia and Japan.

Previous Symposium host nations include Sweden, Finland and Japan and it is the first time the UK has been invited by Friluftsfrämjandet to host the Symposium. The Symposium has attracted significant interest from Educators globally and will give pedagogues the opportunity to experience and share innovation in Early Years practice through a series of workshops and master classes.

Ignite Unlocking Potential will showcase Wales’ first Nature Kindergarten and its leading edge practice as part of the conference schedule. This will provide international pedagogues with a unique firsthand experience to observe how Nature Pedagogy has been embedded into a Foundation Phase setting in Wales.

The conference will feature a keynote presentation by Claire Warden, the internationally renowned Education Consultant and founder of the award winning Auchlone Nature Kindergarten in Creiff, Scotland.

The conference will be attended by Vikki Howells, Assembly Member for Cynon Valley who has championed the vision of Darren Lewis, Founder of Ignite Unlocking Potential to establish Wales’ first Nature Kindergarten and the International conference to her constituency at Dare Valley Country Park.

Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language Alun Davies said, “My focus is ensuring we support our young people through their early years to make sure they have the best start in life. To achieve this we must learn from the best in the world so I am delighted to be joining what is sure to be a prestigious group of global education experts. This year’s Skogsmulle Symposium also presents us with an excellent opportunity to show the rest of the world how pioneering we in Wales have been in developing our Foundation Phase.”

Vikki Howells AM said: “It is an honour for the 2017 International Skogsmulle Symposium to be held here in the Dare Valley Country Park, home to Wales’ very first Nature Kindergarten. As well as highlighting the vision and determination of Ignite Unlocking Potential, it will give us the chance to showcase Welsh approaches to early years learning through the Foundation Phase, learn from the best international practice and also develop solutions to problems like the ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, where our young people feel disconnected from the natural world”.

Darren Lewis, Ignite Unlocking Potential Director believes that hosting the International Skogsmulle Symposium “is a prime opportunity to showcase excellence in Early Years practice internationally and to demonstrate the effectiveness of Nature Pedagogy on well-being and attainment within the Foundation Phase”.

Darren Lewis believes that the conference is an important first step in realising Kirsty Williams Education Secretary for Wales’s vision as expressed at the 2016 National Education Conference. Kirsty refers to the number of Educators visiting Finnish schools in recent years to learn the secrets of their success and vocalises her desire for Wales to be the focal point of international education best practice. We believe the Symposium is the springboard to Wales establishing itself as a country at the vanguard of excellence in Early Years practice.

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About Ignite Unlocking Potential

Ignite Unlocking Potential is a social enterprise that aims to inspire and unlock the potential of every child to enable them to become the best version of themselves.

About Skogsmulle
Skogsmulle is the Swedish Early Years Nature Pedagogy, practiced at “Rain or Shine” pre-schools in Sweden, Latvia, Japan, Finland, Russia and the U.K. Since its introduction in 1957 it is estimated that 1 in 4 children in Sweden have experienced the Skogsmulle pedagogy. Skogsmulle supports children aged 3-7 years to experience child led nature based activities, supported by a range of habitat specific fictional characters that are used as a pedagogical tool to develop sustainable thinking.

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