New Early Childhood Ireland Explainers

New Early Childhood Ireland Explainers

Earlier this month, Early Childhood Ireland released our newest series of Explainers, focussing on Quality for Children. This series covers topics such as Aistear, Síolta, the Universal Design Guidelines, and the Reggio Emilia Approach. This week’s Policy in Focus will go through and summarise the Explainers in this series.

Universal Design Guidelines

The Universal Design Guidelines Explainer starts by delving into its development which began in 2017. Launched in 2019, the Universal Design Guidelines include many images from settings in Ireland that demonstrate good Universal Design practice, as well as examples of good design from Japan and Italy.

The Explainer also summarises the four sections of the Universal Design Guidelines:

  1. Site Location, approach, Entry, and Design
  2. Entering and Moving about the Early Learning and Care Setting
  3. Key Internal and External Spaces
  4. Elements and Systems

The Explainer ends by describing the role that the self-audit tool has as part of the Universal Design Guidelines. It also explains how the Guidelines fit into First 5.

Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework

Development of Aistear began in 2001 and was carried out by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). Early Childhood Ireland’s Aistear Explainer explores its development process and its purpose. The Explainer looks at the 12 principles that underpin Aistear and examines the Curriculum Framework’s themes:

  1. Well-being
  2. Identity and Belonging
  3. Communicating
  4. Exploring and Thinking

Finally, the Explainer goes through the recent process of updating Aistear.

Síolta: The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Ireland’s Síolta Explainer begins by looking at how the National Quality Framework was developed, beginning when the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Care was first established in 2002 to when it was finally published in 2006.

The principles that underpin the National Quality Framework are briefly explored along with the Aistear – Síolta Practice guide.

Síolta Standards and Components of Quality

The Síolta Standards and Components of Quality required its own Explainer due to the number of them and their importance. The standards and components of quality define quality practice within the National Quality Framework and are what Early Years settings will be assessed on. There are 16 standards and components of quality, and these include the rights of the child, planning and evaluation, and transitions.

Children in Settings

The Children in Settings Explainer uses data from Census 2022 to show how many children are in each type of setting, how long they spend in their setting, and the number of children with a disability in non-parental care. The Explainer also includes breakdowns by age and the socio-economic status of the children’s parents or guardians.

Children’s Rights

The Explainer on Children’s Rights explores children’s rights and the history behind the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It includes the 54 articles included in the UNCRC as well as the two optional protocols which only some countries have endorsed.  Finally, it explains the roles that the Committee on the Rights of the Child and UNCRC General Comments play in monitoring and bringing attention to children’s rights issues.

The EU Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care

The EU Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Explainer looks at how the Quality Framework measures quality as well as the three issues that the Framework outlines: the shared image of the child, the shared vision of the role of parents, and the shared understanding of Quality. The Explainer also summarises the 10 quality statements in the Framework that can be grouped under five themes:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Staff and Working Conditions
  3. Curriculum
  4. Monitoring and Evaluation
  5. Policy and Financing
The Reggio Emilia Approach

The Explainer on the Reggio Emilia Approach outlines what the approach involves as well as its historic roots in Italy. The values that support the approach are examined as well as Eary Childhood Ireland’s relationship with Reggio Emilia.

Get in touch

If you have any questions regarding any Early Childhood Explainers, please contact our policy team.

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