Exploration and Discovery: Chatta in Liverpool

As a teacher you never stop being a learner. For me it’s essential that I never stop questioning how I do what I do. What works well? What doesn’t?  What can I do differently? And what should I do again? The best and most powerful learning for me comes from two sources. The children I work with and the colleagues I work alongside, they are my teachers. Every day!

I have learned something from so many teachers who I have worked with. Michelle Cordy, a wonderful teacher ‘on an urgent quest’, once explained something to me that I still see all the time and will never forget. “There are two sweet spots in education,” she told me. “The first is when a student is able to freely pursue their own wonderings and find their own answers. The next is when they are studying for their Phd.”

As children get older there is a risk that education can, if we allow it, offer them less freedom to freely pursue their own wonderings. Yet freedom is the key to real learning.

This week I was fortunate enough to be working at Abercromby Nursery School in Liverpool where I spent time with staff and children. I was struck – as I frequently am in nursery settings and early years classrooms – by the independence demonstrated by the children. In a beautiful, engaging, exciting and carefully resourced learning environment children went about their business exploring, sharing, building, climbing, sorting, talking, listening and learning.

In every successful early learning environment the resources stimulate children’s enquiry, exploration and immersion as they develop new skills and understanding. This really stood out at Abercromby.

To me, the children of Abercromby are studying for their Phd. They are learning through their own actions and through the responses and reactions of the objects, places and people around them. All of this has been made possible by skilled practitioners who allow enable so much exploration and discovery to take place.


I’m looking forward to seeing how chatta makes an impact at Abercromby Nursery. The outdoor environment alone is the perfect setting for thousands of experiences and moments of learning, each of which can lead to children’s thoughts, sensations and reactions. And these in turn can lead to language and communication. chatta supports the development of early spoken communication by linking experiences to language, with a strong focus on modelled language. With a perfect learning environment and a clear commitment to independent child-initiated learning experiences Abercromby is a setting I won’t forget – and in my short time there I learned so many new things from both pupils and staff alike.