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Department of Education and Skills (DES) Education Focused Inspections

June 22, 2015

On Tuesday 26th May 2015 the DES launched a briefing paper describing the context of the forthcoming education focused inspections for the ECCE scheme participants. Here is an overview on what these inspections will look like:

Inspection Framework

The education focused inspection framework incorporates all aspects of best practice already outlined in both Irish quality frameworks Aistear and Síolta. The inspection is categorised into four areas with key outcomes for each:

Area 1: Quality of context to support children’s learning and development

Key outcomes:

  • The atmosphere and organisation of the setting nurtures children’s learning and development
  • Relationships are responsive, respectful and reciprocal
  • Children’s sense of identity and belonging is nurtured


Area 2: Quality of processes to support children’s learning and development

Key outcomes:

  • Provision is informed by Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework
  • Information about the child’s development informs the next steps in learning
  • High quality interactions with children are facilitated
  • The environment and resources support children’s learning and development
  • Play is central to children’s learning and development
  • Emergent language, literacy and numeracy skills are fostered
  • Provision for children’s learning and development is closely aligned to their interests and developing capabilities
  • Children learn within an inclusive environment


Area 3: The quality of children’s experiences and achievements

Key outcomes:

  • Children demonstrate engagement and enjoyment in their learning environment and a positive sense of well-being
  • Children experience achievement and are developing through their learning experiences
  • Children are developing a sense of identity and belonging and both personal and social skills to support their learning and development
  • Children communicate their experiences, thoughts, ideas and feelings with others in a variety of ways
  • Children make sense of their world by interacting with others and their environment through playing, investigating and questioning


Area 4: The quality of the management and leadership for learning

Key outcomes:

  • Planning, reviewing and inspection are informed by Síolta: the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education
  • Management within the setting provide for a high quality learning and development experience for children
  • Clear two-way channels of communication are fostered between the early years setting, parents, families and children
  • Transitions into, from and within the setting are managed effectively to support children’s learning and development


Key Messages


What will the inspection entail?

  1. The inspector will arrive before the start of the learning activities and present official documentation, staying for the duration of the pre-school day


  1. A brief meeting will be held with the manager/ lead person to explain:
  • The inspection process
  • Agree the timing of visiting each ECCE room
  • Discuss any issues which may affect the inspection
  • Arrange for discussion and feedback of the inspection
  • Request planning documents and children’s learning records
  • Discuss the setting’s self-evaluation practices and improvement priorities


  1. The inspector will carry out observations in the ECCE rooms inspecting the processes and practices that influence children’s learning, including:
  • Observations of learning activities
  • Review of learning environments
  • Conversation with practitioners
  • Interaction with the children
  • Review/discussion of documentation


  1. At an agreed time feedback will be given to the practitioners who were inspected


  1. Finally the inspector will discuss the findings with the manager/ lead person by
  • Affirming and acknowledging effective practice
  • Discussing the quality of each inspection area using the five-point scale
  • Allowing the manager/ lead person to discuss and respond to the findings
  • Identifying areas of development and making practical recommendations
  • Outlining the process leading to the publication of the report


After the Inspection

A short inspection report outlining the main findings and recommendations under each inspection area will be prepared. This will be sent back to the setting for factual verification and response. The report and response will be published on the DES, DCYA and Pobal websites. The setting may seek a review of the inspection using procedures outlined in Procedures for Review of Inspections on Schools and Teachers.

Time Frame for consultation and implementation


Finally the DES are committed to working closing in partnership with the early year’s sector and will liaise regularly with practitioners, policy makers and stakeholders. You can contact the DES about the above information at

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