THE first Montessori school in Wales is set to open in Llandaff later this year.
The unique educational approach, which sorts children based on ability rather than age, has gained greater prominence following the announcement last year that Prince George would attend a Montessori nursery.
There are already Montessori nurseries in Cardiff, but the institution set to open in September will be Wales’ first Montessori primary school.
The Cardiff Montessori School will be in Llandaff, although its exact location has not yet been revealed as final contracts are still being signed. Fees are currently set at £4,500 per year.
Esma Izzidien, the founder and director of Cardiff Montessori, described the educational approach as one that both “guides and follows the child”.
Mrs Izzidien believes that placing children based on ability rather than age will help students “progress through the curriculum at their own comfortable pace.”
She said: “A big problem for a lot of teachers is dealing with behavioural issues in class. Bored children unchallenged by the work they are given, or frustrated children unable to keep with the pace of learning, can end up expressing themselves through disengagement.
“A Montessori class is multi-age and full of variety. Students ready for higher levels of learning can find intellectual challenge without being separated from their peers.
The same is true for students who may need extra guidance and support.”
The Cardiff Montessori School says it will also encourage independence more than most primary schools.
Mrs Izzidien said: “Our primary children won’t have school trips planned by the teacher — they will call places, book tickets and plan the day with their teacher there to guide them.
“We want children to leave our school not just with academic ability but real life skills — skills that will allow them to adapt and succeed in our ever-changing world.”
But Sarah Merry, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, is not in support of the new school.
“It’s a very imaginative approach to education, but my reservation is the same as always for private schools. I think there’s a benefit to different social classes and backgrounds mixing, but I just can’t see that happening in a private education context,” she said.
According to Mrs Izzidien, there has already been significant interest in the school from parents.
She said: “The interest has been incredible. We had planned to do our main launch in March but have already had more requests for places than we have available for our primary.
“We are still taking registrations. The date of registering interest is only one factor we take into account. Therefore, it is still possible for someone registering now to be allocated a place. Allocation of places is likely to take place in March.”
Parents can register their children for the Cardiff Montessori School at www.cardiffmontessori.com .