Early Childhood Ireland recently attended the Childhood Development Initiative’s (CDI) conference, Pressing Pause: Reconfiguring Childcare, Policy and Practice. It included expert speakers such as Karen Butler from Tusla, Dr Alison Clark professor of Early Childhood Education from the University of South-Eastern Norway, Mark Considine, Principal Officer of the Access and Inclusion Unit at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, Youth (DCEDIY), Professor Nóirín Hayes, Visiting Professor at the School of Education, Trinity College and Dr Catarina Leitao, a researcher at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. The conference sought to reflect on learning to date, existing best practice models, the policy context, and emerging needs.
Presentations on the day
Mark Considine provided an overview of the DCEDIY’s workforce development plans for the Early Years sector and detailed the considerations that are currently underpinning the development of the forthcoming Equal Participation Model (EPM). It is anticipated that when EPM is launched it will provide a mix of universal and targeted supports through services accessed by children and families experiencing disadvantage. It is an important milestone, and we look forward to working closely with the Department of Children and other stakeholders to develop it further.
Following on from the presentation on the EPM, Dr Catarina Leitao gave an overview of her research on parenting supports in Early Years, which shared the views of twenty-seven parents on Powerful Parenting: CDI’s model of parenting support in Early Years settings. It outlined which elements of the approach were most valued by participating parents and the outcomes resulting from parental engagement in the programme.
Karen Butler from Tusla provided a presentation highlighting ongoing good practice and collaboration between the Tusla Home School Community Liaison scheme and the Early Years sector. She explained that this scheme aims to recognise the importance of continuing to maintain and strengthen connections between stakeholders and the communities at the centre of it.
Dr Alison Clark gave an overview of her work on “slow pedagogy”. This presentation was based on a two-year research study funded by the Froebel trust: ‘Slow knowledge and the unhurried child’. Slow pedagogy encourages children and pedagogues to slow down, examine instances of time and be attentive to children’s pace, rhythm and interests, thus enabling them to revisit their ideas and creations, places and stories.
Finally, renowned Professor Nóirín Hayes closed with her presentation – “See and Heard, Caring Partnerships for Young Children.” Nóirín is the author of and contributor to a large volume of EYSAC research. She is currently Visiting Professor at the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin, and Professor Emerita at Technological University Dublin, where she works within a bio-ecological framework of development and through a child rights lens to teach and research early childhood education and care (ECEC) with a particular focus on early learning, curriculum and pedagogy and ECEC policy.
Her presentation reflected on the various relationships in the EY and SAC sector in Ireland. She posed the question – how can we strengthen the linkages and clarify the roles of the various players in the lives of young children? The presentation also examined how best to ensure that the quality of day-to-day practice is supported so that it is both professionally satisfying and developmentally rewarding for young children.
Overall, the conference provided a lot of interesting perspectives and information, and we congratulate our colleagues from CDI on a very successful event. Early Childhood Ireland looks forward to monitoring the development of the EPM and engaging with this process. If you are interested in hearing more about our policy work, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.