A group of aspiring teaching students from South Wales have been offered the chance to pursue their dream careers working with children in Italy following a work placement on the outskirts of Venice.
Four learners from Coleg y Cymoedd swapped the South Wales Valleys for the Mediterranean sunshine after spending a fortnight working abroad as part of a trip arranged by their tutors.
Katie Price, 20, Caitlan Billingham, 19, Abbie Fox, 19 and Wai Wai Chia, 37 spent two weeks working at a local nursey and primary school in the North Italian town of Castelfranco Veneto, just 25 miles from Venice, as of the trip.
The second-year learners, who are all studying children's care at college, gained an insight into the Italian education system, learning how the curriculum and culture differs to the UK, while also getting hands on experience working with children.
Katie, from Maesycwmmer is one of the learners who took part in the trip, organised through the ERASMUS+ EU funding programme.
Not fazed by the language barrier, Katie impressed staff with the high level of support she offered to pupils, as well as her willingness and enthusiasm to undertake any task that came her way. In fact, her managers were so impressed that she has been invited back for another placement.
Katie, who is set to study primary education at Brighton University in September, hopes to take a year out from the course to return to Castelfranco.
Katie said: “Working in Italy was an absolutely amazing experience that I will never forget. Seeing how another country educates its children compared to the UK was very useful and interesting, giving me an insight into how I can improve certain areas of teaching. It’s opened up my eyes to alternative ways to engage children and help with their academic and social development. I have learnt a lot on the trip that I will definitely take back to the classroom with me when I qualify as a teacher.
“Everyone was so welcoming and I built some great relationships with both staff and children while I was out there. I didn’t want to leave and am really going to miss everyone. I was so happy when the school invited me for another placement and cannot wait to return. Once I qualify as a teacher, I would definitely consider making the move to Italy!”
In addition to working in the schools and nurseries in Castelfranco, Katie and her classmates also got the chance to indulge in some Italian culture, visiting the nearby town of Treviso and the famous city of Venice.
All four of the learners are studying a level 3 Extended Diploma in Children's Care, Learning and Development at Coleg y Cymoedd.
The course, which takes place at the college’s Ystrad Mynach campus, is designed to enable learners to progress to university or gain employment within the sector including roles such as a teaching assistant, one-to-one support assistant, nursery nurse, or children's holiday rep.
Angela Jones, course tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd’s School of Care said: “The visit to Italy provided the learners with an excellent opportunity to utilise and enhance the skills that they have developed so far during their education.
“They were able to see different styles of play and teaching, as well as learn how to plan activities and assess and observe children. Experiencing a different culture and approach to education will be hugely beneficial to the learners, helping them broaden their skills sets and knowledge, best preparing them for a career in the industry.”