We were delighted that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD, used her keynote address to the ECI 2018 conference on Saturday 14th April to announce an important new CPD initiative. While we await further detail on the nuts and bolts of the scheme, the Minister did give the following overview to our conference participants:
- Better Start National Early Years Quality Development will be the national lead for the management and oversight of a new CPD initiative;
- An initial €3 million has been secured;
- A pilot initiative will be rolled out in 2018 to EY practitioners attending the AIM Hanen Teacher Talk and Lámh training programmes with a view to expanding to include for example First Aid Response training in 2019;
- A bursary of €13 per hour for up to 3 days will be paid directly to the practitioner or the equivalent payment to the service to cover the paid leave of the staff member is envisaged;
- DCYA & Better Start will develop proper CPD infrastructure for the future development of CPD supports and funding.
The introduction of a formal CPD structure has been a long-standing advocacy goal for ECI and features as a concrete ask in all our relevant submissions to Government department. Please see for example:
ECI Budget 2017 submission Giant Leaps Toward Quality, Sustainability and Affordability in Irish Childcare (August 2016), which recommends an allocation of €3 million to create a new permanent and comprehensive system for supporting learners to access further education and training in early childhood education that builds on the existing ‘Learner Fund’ model, caters for all levels and will lead to the provision of a minimum of 3 CPD days per year for early years educators.
ECI Budget 2018 submission Invest for the Best Building a world-class early childhood care and education system for Ireland (September 2017), which recommended, with the initial investment of €10 million, the creation of a new permanent and comprehensive professionalisation fund to support early years educators to:
- access further education and training in early childhood care and education
- (ECE) that incorporates and builds on the existing ‘Learner Fund’ model and caters for all levels (level 5-level 9);
- undertake pedagogical leadership;
- engage in 35 hours of continuing professional development
Early Years Forum
In response to representations from members frustrated and disheartened by the lack of financial support for EY services and staff to complete the Tusla Children First E-Learning Programme, as compared to the primary school sector, ECI brought our concerns before the Minister at the March meeting of the Early Years Forum. We stressed the need for DCYA to address the training support deficit outside of the existing funding streams like non-contact time payments and programme support payments and instead introduce a formal CPD infrastructure that can cover: education and training opportunities that enhances quality of provision to children; and training required by legislation and regulation.
ECI warmly welcomes the appointment of Better Start as national lead on the new CPD initiative. We see this as a positive signal of intent to grow and expand the CPD scheme for the early years sector into the future. ECI looks forward to working constructively with everyone involved to ensure this long-sought-after and hard won stand-alone recognition of CPD is a success.
Pic of KZ at conference