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About Us

Sightlines Initiative develops and demonstrates reflective and creative practice in UK early childhood education through action research projects and professional development activity. We are the UK reference point for Reggio Children, Reggio Emilia, Italy, and are members of the Reggio Children International Network.

We believe children are born innately sociable, curious, competent and creative, and that the role of early years education is to  nurture, value and respect these qualities, and create engaging and meaningful learning environments for children. (See Sightlines' Principles.)

Sightlines' CPD work is run by Sightlines Initiative Ltd, a not-for-profit company managed by a group of Members & Directors.

Robin Duckett

Robin Duckett

In 1995 I took a research year off from my job as a nursery teacher in a Newcastle nursery school, in order to make a proposal for a new early childhood centre. The values of this proposal were researchfulness, enquiry, co-construction of knowledge, creativity – of all participants – children, educators, community. During this 'sabbatical year' I read and heard more about Reggio's preschools. "Robin", said one of our steering group wistfully, "you can't talk like this about exploration, listening and imagination as a value, you have to talk about targets".

However, excitingly, we found this was not the case. Instead, we hosted the first English showing of the Hundred Languages of Children exhibit, and Sightlines was formed. With many others, we are still researching, learning and making. I continue to be inspired to meet and work with others in the work of forming listening pedagogies in UK educational settings.

Liz Elders

Liz Elders

After training as an early years educator I taught in both nursery and infant schools in the state sector. I then had an opportunity to run my own private nursery for 20 years, which gave me more freedom to explore what my educational values were and to work with people who shared those values and wanted to find a way to put them into practice. The nursery became part of the 5x5x5=creativity project action research project and it was through this that I was introduced to Sightlines Initiative and came to encounter Reggio Emilia.

Since 2006 I have worked with local nurseries, schools, and education authorities as a project mentor and in professional development as part of the 5x5x5=creativity team in the South West.

My involvement with Sightlines Initiative has continued over the last 10+ years through seminars, conferences, workshops, the advisory group and supporting development projects with schools and nurseries. I have been involved in the Environments of Enquiry courses since their conception and am interested in how we progress together through professional learning groups and action research. How we embody our values and undergo transformational change remains a fundamental question for me.

Debi Keyte Hartland

Debi Keyte Hartland

My background is in the visual and community arts. I went to Goldsmiths College, London and studied for a BA (Hons) in Textiles, graduating in 1994. Since then I have worked in community, education, cultural, health and social care settings as an artist in residence. I have been visiting the Pre-Schools and Infant Toddler Centres in Reggio Emilia, Italy for ten years and it is this educational experience that enables me to think about how in the UK we can create innovative and sustainable approaches to learning and teaching with young children and their families. I work with learning groups of educators who are constructing long term projects and enquiry-based ways of working with children. I write short courses, deliver training and work with a small number of settings on longer term consultancies developing professional learning communities. Currently I am developing a transnational opportunity for dialogue and exchange with a network of settings in the West Midlands together with pre-schools in Stockholm, Sweden. I am also working with the International School of Beijing, China developing the use of technology as a tool of enquiry and research of both children and adults. I completed my MA Education at Birmingham City University in 2009 researching children's communicative drawing, the methods of documenting it and the pedagogic strategies that supported it. In 2013 I was awarded the EECERA/Routledge Annual Practitioner Research Award at the 23rd EECERA Conference in Tallinn, Estonia.

Dr. Christine Merrick

Dr. Christine Merrick

I have worked in Early Years education for over forty years, from playgroup supervisor to primary headteacher. During that time I worked as Assistant Principal of Zurich International School with responsibility for Early Childhood which introduced me to a whole new world of international education and inquiry based practice. I chaired the European Council of International Schools Early Childhood committee helping to organize, and running workshops at their Early Childhood conferences. Since returning to the UK I have been lucky enough to continue to work with International Schools around the world. I have also worked in UK local authority Advisory & Inspection Services as an early years specialist and as an additional Inspector leading OFSTED inspections with SERCO as well as doing freelance consultancy and training in the UK and abroad.

I have been associated with Sightlines Initiative for many years and have enjoyed numerous study weeks in Reggio Emilia including ones focusing on environments with the Domus Academy in Milan and celebrations of the work of Remida. These visits sustain my enthusiasm and feed my belief in the capabilities of young children. Alongside colleagues I have delivered 'Introduction to Reggio Emilia' sessions  and worked as part of the Developing Environments of Inquiry programme. In my free time I am the Chair of Governors of a nursery school and work with school governors on a range of issues. 

 

Prof. Peter Moss

Prof. Peter Moss
I’ve worked at the Thomas Coram Research Unit at London’s Institute of Education for much of my life, mostly in early childhood but increasingly crossing borders into other fields including democracy in education and the relationship between employment, care and gender. I see myself as part of a resistance movement contesting the current dominant line on early childhood – instrumental, economistic, narrow and technical – and find hope in the continuing work of fellow resisters in Sightlines Initiative.

Catherine Reding

Catherine Reding
I am a trained primary/early years teacher with a background in music and a love of being in nature. Over the last ten years I have worked in primary and nursery settings in the north of England variously as a teacher, music specialist and education consultant.

Sightlines' regional project work and fundraising is run by Sightlines Initiative Charitable Trust with a board of Trustees drawn from early childhood education, business and arts.

Viviana Fiorentino

Viviana Fiorentino

I am a writer, a hiker, a lover of Earth's nature. All this brought me travelling in Europe. I encountered the Reggio view by chance, through an Emmi Pikler’s group for children and parents in Germany. That was the beginning of a long journey of readings, discovers and learning.

I am fascinated by the endless diversity of life on Earth. This interest, together with the evolution of my personal life, has brought me to re-think in a wider perspective the responsibility of each individual in its daily life and thus the importance of education in our society. Coming to UK, I felt the necessity to be in connection with other people with similar values, with the common effort of realising something valuable for us as a society and thus for the planet Earth.

This is why a constant question goes along with me in my daily life: what could education be if we encouraged the innate human desire of inquiry, expression, creation of new knowledge? All this brought me to meet Sightlines Initiative and be involved with it.

Kate Cowan

Kate Cowan

I'm a researcher at UCL Institute of Education interested in young children's play, creativity, literacies and digital technologies.

Before joining UCL IOE I worked as a nursery teacher in a children's centre in Cambridgeshire and I remain committed to connecting research and practice. I have written for early years teachers, students and the general public, and previously taught and led modules on the MA in Early Years Education programmes at UCL IOE.

I visited Reggio Emilia in 2015 and have been involved in Sightlines and the ReFocus network for many years, including currently acting on the steering group for London ReFocus. 

Dr. Diana Sousa

Dr. Diana Sousa

I currently teach a range of modules on the BA (Hons) Education Studies at Winchester University with particular references to policy, education and society; progressive and participatory approaches within education and early childhood.

Originally from Portugal, I arrived in the UK in 2007 as an early-years educator with a passion for arts, democracy and social justice. I worked in different ECE settings with democratic practices at the heart.

Prior to coming to Winchester, I pursued my passion for democracy by acting as the Students’ Union President of the Institute of Education Students’ Union. This is where I completed my MA in Comparative Education, developing a profound interest for understanding education systems, policies and practices around the globe, leading to a doctorate in Eduction.  MyPhD scrutinised how democracy is described and interpreted both historically and in education policy, whilst providing an understanding of how democracy is enacted in early childhood education in Portugal.

Hannah Young

Hannah Young

I am a qualified lawyer and worked in the corporate finance team of an investment bank (specialising in investment funds) for many years. However, inspired by my children, I am now pursuing a career in early childhood education, currently undertaking an MA in Education.

I have always been fascinated by the way in which we build knowledge, making connections between experiences and encounters, exploring and researching along the way. From birth, I saw that children are free to imagine, unrestricted by purpose or instruction, and through play, they begin to develop their own understanding of an object by testing theories, improvising by trial and error and beginning to think creatively. It is this concept of thinking critically and creatively which I find particularly interesting and as a parent I find myself continually observing and listening for signs of the beauty or possibilities a child can see or hear, that which an adult does not.

I believe that as educators and as parents, we have a duty to listen to children, giving them the time and space to explore the world. We also, in my opinion, have a duty to try to change the perception of early childhood education in the UK, a mission I am very passionate about, having the perspective of a parent, an educator and an academic. I believe the connotations attached to childcare provision in this country, be it opinions relating to the setting itself or the educators who tirelessly and limitlessly love and support the nation’s children, may only be altered through information sharing so that parents, grandparents and carers are enabled to imagine an image of the child in a way they might not have considered possible, to understand the role of play in every child’s life and to be given an opportunity to make their own connections through participation, building knowledge of the role of early childhood education.

Put simply, it is the adults rather than the children who require educating in this instance.