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Aistear is ten years old!


Monday 14 October 2019

Can you believe Aistear’s tenth birthday is just around the corner? It’s time to celebrate and reflect on the impact the curriculum framework has had over the past decade.

Aistear was developed in consultation with the early childhood sector in Ireland over a number of years and on October 22, 2009 the framework was published on the NCCA website. Many practitioners around Ireland started to dip their toe in the water and saw that the framework wasn’t something to be feared. Instead, it was something to be embraced. It reflected very well what they were trying to do every day – helping children to learn and develop through play within the context of loving relationships.

In 2016 the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills (DES) was given responsibility for inspecting the quality of education for children in early childhood settings providing the ECCE Scheme. They started to look for evidence of Aistear and Síolta in practice. Around this time too, the National Síolta Aistear Initiative (NSAI) was established to provide central support and coordination of Síolta and Aistear implementation. Two national development officers were engaged to oversee this work. In 2019 as part of NSAI, Better Start introduced ten hours of workshops on Aistear and play nationally. These are part of the DCYA’s paid CPD infrastructure.

On 5 February 2020, the NCCA will hold an event in the Ashling Hotel, Parkgate Street, Dublin to mark Aistear’s 10th birthday. On that day, as well at looking back over the last ten years we will also talk about the future as NCCA plans to check in on Aistear over the next couple of years.  

Prior to the event in February we would really like you to share with us how Aistear has impacted on you, and the children and families in your setting. We want you to think back and reflect on the influence the framework has had on you. We want to hear your stories about what Aistear has meant to you over the past ten years. Think back to those early days – what changes did you make?  Maybe engaging with Aistear helped you to see children in a new light, or did it help you to see the benefits of developing stronger partnerships with parents? Did you start a portfolio for your group to share your curriculum experiences with parents, or perhaps you started to document individual children’s learning and development using a learning portfolio? Did you begin to think about developing a strong sense of identity and belonging for every child in your setting? Whatever it was we want to hear about it, and we will share some of your stories with the attendees at the event in February. Unfortunately, due to GDPR we can’t accept photos, but please do write and tell us your story.  Don’t delay, do it today, email with insights on your Aistear journey!


Mary Daly has been an Education Officer with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) for well over a decade. The NCCA advises the Minister for Education and Skills on curriculum and assessment in early childhood education, primary and post-primary schools. Mary was involved in the development of Aistear, the early childhood curriculum framework, the Aistear Toolkit, the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide and the Mo Scéal Reporting templates. Mary has a BA in Early Childhood Studies from University College Cork and in 2002 she completed a Ph. D. which focused on the emotional, social, moral and spiritual development of the young child.


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