Public view Early Years education as equally important to primary or secondary education and care
– Annual Barometer finds strong demand for high-quality care for younger children –
Ireland is at an all-time high of support for high quality Early Years care for children. That’s according to survey results published today (20.02.23) by Early Childhood Ireland, the leading organisation in the Early Years sector.
Now in its sixth year, Early Childhood Ireland’s Barometer is an annual opinion poll conducted nationwide by RED C to gauge public attitudes to Early Years care and education.
This year’s poll reports that:
- 79% agree that every child should be guaranteed access to high quality and inclusive Early Years and School Age Care in their community;
- 77% agree that similar to primary education in Ireland, Early Years education should be available free to all children; and
- 71% agree that the education of children under five is as important as the education of children over five.
Frances Byrne, Director of Policy at Early Childhood Ireland said of the Barometer results: “What we’ve witnessed over the past six years of Barometer polling is a clear transformational shift in how the Irish public think about Early Years education and care, from a means to facilitate working parents, to something essential to the educational development of young children.
“The education of children under five is now considered as important as the education of those over five. This is something that polls strongly across all age brackets and socio-economic backgrounds, and in the past six years of polling on this statement, we’ve seen a 10% increase in support.”
Year-on-year national polling has also found increased public support for free, accessible Early Years care; financial support for parents to stay at home during the first 12 months of a child’s life; and for the professionalisation of the sector.
Commenting on this, Ms. Byrne added: “Three-quarters of those polled agreed that Early Years staff who work directly with children must be as qualified as other professionals such as nurses and teachers, and, that the terms and conditions of their employment contract should reflect this.
“Interestingly, this point is something that polls particularly strongly among those over 65 (83%), and among homemakers (79%), both demographics which plug the ‘care gap’ in this country. If those caring for our youngest citizens are telling us that Early Years educators are as important and should be valued as highly as primary or secondary level teachers, we should as a country, be listening and responding to that.”