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Brákarborg: Values in pre-school education

Helga Ingvadóttir, school leader
Hrönn Pálmadóttir, lecturer, University of Iceland


The preschool Brákarborg in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Early Childhood Education (RannUng) at the University of Iceland along with other preschools in Reykjavík is working on a project on important values in preschool education. The project is a part of a Nordic study where the teachers and researchers from all the Nordic countries contribute.

The goal of the project is to enhance understanding of the factors and activities in preschools (kindergartens) in order to develop, teach and nurture certain values​​. The values ​​that were chosen are; discipline, respect and caring. Action research are carried out in these preschools - where staff  maps out these values ​​and considers how they can be presented and developed.

An emphasis will be on the preschool teachers and their professional development.

The school

Brákarborg is a three department preschool with 52 children and 14 teachers. The school is located close to Laugardalur and is one of the oldest preschools in Reykjavík. Our aim is to graduate children with good self esteem and happy memories from their years in the school.


Teachers professional development through participation in the Beginning Literacy program
Compulsory school

Guðbjörg Oddsdóttir, teacher at Hörðuvallaskóli, Kópavogur
Jenný Gunnbjörnsdóttir, specialist at The Centre of School Development at the University of Akureyri


The Centre of School Development is an independent unit at the University of Akureyri. It functions as a two-way link between Icelandic schools and the University. The Centre‘s main concern is various projects regarding improvement and transformation in pre-schools, compulsory schools, upper secondary schools and universities.

A literacy program named Beginning Literacy (in Icelandic: Byrjendalæsi) has been developed at the Centre of School Development. It has been used among teachers for 1st and 2nd grade pupils in 45% of all compulsory schools in Iceland since 2005. It is characterised by interactive practice where the emphasis is, among other things, on differentiation and collaboration between teachers and schools. It is also a venue of collaboration for the University on the one hand and school teachers on the other which has in recent years led to the emergence of important knowledge and experience concerning teachers‘ professional development which can in turn be used for school development.

In the workshop a Beginning Literacy leader (an compulsory school teacher) shares her experience of how participation in the project has aided professional development in her own school and how she has fared as a leader of developmental work in the school based on the development model of Beginning Literacy. The preparatory stages and the implementation process will be discussed as well which conditions are necessary for the process of change to be effective and for contionuous professional development to become an integral part of the school‘s professional culture.

The school

Hörðuvallaskóli is the local school of the Kórar neighborhood in Kópavogur and is one of the town‘s 9  compulsory schools. It was opened in the autumn of 2006, with 50 pupils. In 2013 – 2014 it had around 650 pupils, and this figure is rapidly rising. Hörðuvallaskóli has worked according to the methods of Beginning Literacy for three years.  The workshop takes place in Laugarnesskóli, Reykjavík.


Álftanesskóli: Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Restitution
Compulsory school

Judy Anderson, teacher trainer
Sveinbjörn M. Njálsson, principal


The session is designed to introduce the basic concepts of Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Restitution as outlined by William Glasser and Diane Gossen. Workshop activities focus on how participants may apply these concepts and strategies in their personal and professional life. These principles include the ideas that people are internally motivated and that all behavior is purposeful.

You will learn about the theory and the principles derived from it, with emphasis on how understanding Choice Theory and Restitution aid in personal self-evaluation and professional applications with particular emphasis on professional applications to schools.

The school

The school was established in 1978. The school is located in a beautiful neighbourhood near Bessastaðir which is an Icelandic historic site and the President’s Residence. The school has used Restitution – self-discipline work methods and goals since 2002.

Preparation of participants

Have a look at these websites:


Laugarnesskóli: Collective guidance with regard to the quality of the school work
Primary school

Sigríður Heiða Bragadóttir, principal
Kristinn Svavarsson, vice principal


In the workshop on teacher´s professionalism school leaders in Reykjavík, will introduce a project their school took part in, in cooperation with Ardleigh Green Junior school in London, England. The project was guided by the educational department of the Reykjavík municipal.

The aim of the project was for each school to establish a collective guidance with regard to the quality of the school work. The aims were decided on by the teachers and students in each school. They were adjusted to the culture in the schools, laws on compulsory education and the national curriculum guide.  Along with the development of the aims the teachers explored ways to improve their teaching using methods that have been demonstrated to improve results.

Examples will be given in the workshop on how the teacher´s professional development was set up over the three years of the project, and it´s implementation into daily work of the teachers.  The aims of the project were set up to support the teacher´s professionalism and to ensure their participation in the implementation of change.

Finally, the participants will be taken on a tour around the school and given the opportunity to join in a dialogue on how their schools plan the teacher’s professional development and compare it with the model introduced in the workshop.

The school

Currently there are 477 students registered at the school.  The school values are joy of life, learning, cooperation and caring.  The school was established in 1935 and is one of the oldest schools in Reykjavík.

Since the school was established many traditions have established themselves as very important parts of the school policy.  The corridors of the school are decorated by paintings and statues by famous Icelandic artists The school has access to a nature resort close to Reykjavík.

The school policy is to maintain those traditions and develop them further according to the national curriculum guide.  Laugarnesskóli is a progressive school and its staff is constantly looking for new ways to improve teaching and thereby the students results.


Sæmundarskóli: Establishing school development
Compulsory school

G. Eygló Friðriksdóttir, principal
Þóra Stephensen, vice principal


In the workshop we learn about the school and explore how to keep the heard together while  growing, learning and developing. The school emphasize on consistency in teaching and learning. The teachers collaborate and learn from each other how to move on. In the workshop the school leaders will talk about their journey  to establish a school, how to move on, how to get everyone to travel in the same direction. Sounds easy but turns out to be quite complicated.

The school

Sæmundarskóli is a 10 year old compulsory school on the outskirts of Reykjavik.  In a  recent inspection done by the city authorities 97% of lessons was rated good or outstanding.

You can get a glimpse of the school spirit in this video that was made by 7th grade students in the school.

In the video you can see the school motto: Gleði/joy, virðing/respect, samvinna/cooperation.


Be prepared to share your own  perspective with the others.


Sund upper secondary school: Action research for professional development
Upper secondary school

Hjördís Þorgeirsdóttir, deputy head teacher,
Sigurrós Erlingsdóttir, head of teaching,
Þóra Víkingsdóttir, head of biology department.


A workshop on action research with a mixture of presentations and discussions.

An action research group has been operative in Sund upper secondary school since 2005. Presently the group consists of 18 members with a teaching experience from 1 to 30 years.

The purpose of the action research group is to enhance teachers’ professional development that builds on developmental work both in relation to particular teaching subjects and across curriculum. In action research teachers combine research and changes made in their own practice. The group’s overall aim is to increase students’ responsibility for their learning but individual teachers consciously choose their goals under the influence of the overall aim.

The work is based on Jean McNiff’s idea on action research as a practical way of looking at one´s own work. McNiff is a professor at York St John University in England. Action research provides the approach to guide the participants when carrying out and evaluating changes in their own practice. Doing the research, teachers develop ideas about what to improve and how, try them out, gather data and evaluate the outcome during regular meetings in which a consultant from the University of Iceland participates. The teachers see the meetings of the group as providing them with space to discuss their work, their values and their conflicts and develop their ideas and teaching expertise.

The school

The school is located in east central Reykjavík. There are 65 staff members in the school, 53 teachers and 9 other personnel. There are 720 students in the school, 16 to 19 years old, almost equal numbers of boys and girls. The main aim is to prepare students for further education at a university level. The studies are organized as four years studies for a final exam and students can choose between two academic programmes, social sciences and natural sciences.


Langholtsskóli: Biophilia Education Project

Auður Rán Þorgeirsdóttir, Project Manager for the Nordic Biophilia Education Project at the Ministry for Education
Skúli Gestsson, teacher at Langholtsskóli
Guðrún Geirsdóttir, PhD in Pedagogy at the University of Iceland



Biophilia is a large-scale pilot education project that builds on participation by academics, scientists, artists, teachers, and students at all academic levels. It is based on creativity as a teaching and research method, where the natural sciences, music and technology are linked together in an innovative way.

The project was originally developed by Björk Guðmundsdóttir, the City of Reykjavík and the University of Iceland, in connection with the release of Björk’s album Biophilia in 2011. Music and science workshops for children were held alongside Björk’s concerts around the world.

To commemorate its presidency in 2014, the Icelandic government sought collaboration with the other Nordic countries to further develop the Biophilia teaching project. Local collaboration networks will be set up in all Nordic countries.

The goal of the Nordic cooperation is (in short) to:

•         boost innovation in education by transforming traditional teaching practices through an interdisciplinary approach, crossing age groups, academic subjects, and areas of expertise, and by developing teaching methods that combine knowledge, creativity and technology.

•         develop local collaboration networks and online collaboration forum for Nordic cooperation, that will continue to be available when the project ends.

The workshop

Participants at the conference are invited to take part in Biophilia Education workshops, which give an example of how the app suite and education material has been used so far. The participants will be encouraged to take part to exchange ideas and opinions on the project and teachers‘ professional development.


To be able to engage in and get the most out of the Biophilia Educational Project Workshops it is strongly advised that participants download the Biophilia Apps Suite on their touch screen devices before arriving at the conference and bring them along. The world’s first “app album” is quite large in size (around 1GB) and takes some time to download.

The Biophilia App Suite is a multimedia exploration of music, nature and technology. Biophilia is released as ten in-app experiences that are accessed as you fly through a three-dimensional galaxy.

- For iPads and iPhones go to the App Store on iTunes and search for “Björk: Biophilia”. – For Android based phones and tablets go to Google Play and search for “Björk: Biophilia” (requires Android 4.0 and up). The App is priced at about 10 Euros.

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