A group of globe-trotting learners from South Wales have travelled to Italy for a unique work placement that is set to enrich their studies now they have returned to the UK.
The four Children’s Care, Learning and Development learners from Coleg y Cymoedd embarked on a two week trip to the town of Castelfranco Veneto in Northern Italy. The trip was part of the Erasmus+ programme which offers students across Europe the chance to study abroad.
The learners from Coleg y Cymoedd, who are based on the Nantgarw campus, spent the first week at a nursery followed by a week in a junior school allowing them to get as much work experience as possible with different age groups. The group observed how lessons and activities were carried out there, noticing some differences in the style of education in Italy compared to back in the UK.
One of the learners who was lucky enough to travel to Italy was Laura Watson, 17, from Cardiff, who was quick to pick up on a more relaxed style in the Italian schools. “It was obvious how encouraging the nursery teachers were to the children, trying to get them to make decisions themselves rather than rely on being told what to do. There was a similar approach in the junior school as well, and it’s definitely a style of teaching I would like to bring back to the UK.”
The group from South Wales faced some initial language barriers whilst in Italy, but were quick to settle into the environment. Laura explained: “It was intimidating at first with everyone speaking a different language and I felt nervous trying to communicate with the teachers there. But after the first couple of days my confidence grew and I started to pick up some basic phrases which helped me interact with the staff and children.”
In addition to gaining hands on experience, the trip also offered the leaners a cultural experience, spending the day in Venice, Treviso and Bassano del Grappa. Picking up Italian culture along the way, the group sampled the best local delicacies from the nearby markets. Laura continued: “I loved every second of the trip and learnt a lot about myself while there. We had to manage our own money, organise our own trains and overcome the language barrier, which meant I gained a lot of independence.”
Elsewhere in Coleg y Cymoedd, three Business learners have also been making the most of the Erasmus+ programme, jetting off on a work placement in the Basque Country, northern Spain. The learners gained experience working in a virtual office where they adapted to a different culture and working environment, whilst overcoming the language barrier and developing confidence and independence.
Emma Baxter, Childcare tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd, who travelled to Italy with the learners, spoke of the trip: “At Coleg y Cymoedd we encourage our learners to embrace as many experiences as possible that will enrich their studies. The Erasmus+ programme is extremely rewarding and the practical work experience offered to learners will give them invaluable knowledge for the future. We know the trip will have a profoundly positive effect on the returning learners.”