Montessori offers grants and free primary training

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A Montessori specialist could be trained in every primary school in England, in plans to widen access to Maria Montessori's philosophy to all children.

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Over the next three years, Montessori will be increasing its support to include the most disadvantaged communities.

Speaking to Nursery World, ahead of the launch at the House of Commons on Thursday of Montessori St Nicholas charity's 'New Community Manifesto', chief executive Philip Bujak said, 'From 2012 to 2015 we will move away from supporting most private Montessori schools and widen our access to training, increasing opportunities so that providers do not have to pay. The charity is pumping more money into accessing the Montessori philosophy.'

He said, 'We want to dispel some of the myths that a Montessori education is only available to people who can pay for it' adding that it was 'only an accident of history' that Montessori provision tended to be in private nurseries.

As part of this move, the charity will be offering grants of between £50,000 and £100,000 to three projects, chosen to be Montessori community champions to showcase the approach in disadvantaged areas.

More details of how to apply will be announced in the New Year, but Mr Bujak said that, for example, 'this could be for an existing nursery that's really struggling in a deprived area, or a group of parents trying to set up a nursery'.

The three-year programme will also offer free training for every primary school to train a teacher to become a Montessori practising specialist, worth £3,500 for every school.

The charity has been using a variety of strategies to reach a wider audience, including working with clusters of childminders and providing training and support to some Barnardo's settings. Mr Bujak said that 'virtually all' Montessori nurseries will be taking part in the two-year-old offer.

The charity is one of 14 organisations taking part in a Government-funded trial, which started in April, to offer all parents of under-fives in three areas free parenting classes.

Montessori parenting classes in Camden, London are being assessed by the University of East Anglia, which will produce an interim report in February.

A second wave of classes starts soon and parents will be able to download vouchers.