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Course with creches: Cardiff Met implements a symbiotic approach

Cardiff Metropolitan University has been running teacher training courses since 1945, when the Cardiff Teacher Training College was set up following the Second World War. In 2015, as a part of its increasing portfolio, the Cardiff School of Education and Social Policy, as the school is now known, began to offer the Cambridge CELTA Course, an initial teacher training qualification for teachers of English to speakers of other languages. This highly practical course requires candidates to undertake six hours of supervised teaching practice to speakers of other languages, which takes place on the Cyncoed Campus of the University. In order to engage with the English language-learning communities, which are more highly concentrated around the city-centre, it was important to identify what the main barriers to access to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes were. Researchers and practitioners who work in ESOL in the UK are acutely aware that one of the biggest barriers is the lack of childcare to support learners, primarily women, in attending free of charge English classes.

The School also offers BA courses in Early Childhood Studies with Early Years Practitioner Status (EYPS), where, aside from studying theoretical and policy-based knowledge, practical work experience is required. With both the CELTA and the EYPS courses being held in the same location, it seemed logical to link these two together. After discussions with the EYPS team on the practicality of facilitating their students’ experience in-house at the same time as the free of charge English lessons were offered, the project was approved.

As a result, the university-based creche ‘Minimets’ was opened in September 2018. Thus far, three children are attending the creche whilst their mothers, two of whom hold refugee status, are studying English. The places in the creche are specifically ring-fenced in order to support the attendees at the English classes and it is a situation where everybody wins: The learners, some of whom are already considering studying MA courses at the University, the trainee teachers on the CELTA courses, who are gaining their practical teaching experience, the students who are working towards the EYPS and the staff, who are facilitating and assessing the students’ development.

Furthermore, when the (by then qualified) teachers reach the 3rd year, they are asked to teach assessed IELTS classes on behalf of the Widening Access programme in a high BME concentration area of Cardiff. Not only is this a great experience of teaching academic exam English for third year students but last year, these classes helped five people from the refugee community to join their chosen courses at Cardiff Met!