Síolta

Síolta is the national quality framework for early childhood care and education in Ireland. Síolta establishes 16 quality standards that all early childhood services should work towards.

What is Síolta?

Síolta is the national quality framework for early childhood care and education in Ireland.

Síolta establishes 16 quality standards that all early childhood services should work towards.

It has 2 very important functions:

  1. It guides the way all early childhood care and education services work and develop in Ireland.It does this by establishing core principles to which all services must adhere and by guiding early years settings towards quality practice in all areas of service provision.
  2. Síolta also serves as a self-assessment Quality Assurance Programme. Settings participating in a Formal Síolta Quality Assurance Programme engage in a process of self-evaluation and reflection. This means they need to be able to:
    • describe their own practice in relation to each of the 16 standards of quality detailed in the relevant Síolta manual
    • make plans for improving their practice where necessary and then carry out these plans
    • collect a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate their current level of quality in each of the 16 Standards

Settings are guided and supported in this process of reflection and self-evaluation by a Síolta mentor.

History of Síolta

Síolta was first published in 2006 and it was developed by the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE), on behalf of the then Department of Education and Science.

The Síolta programme is now managed by the Early Years Education Policy Unit (EYEPU) within the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA).

 

The Meaning of Síolta

The word Síolta means ‘seeds’ in Irish. This symbol of the seed is used as a means of communicating the ways in which the framework can be used as a developmental tool, facilitating the growth of each service to their full potential and in their own distinctive way.

 

The Use of Síolta

Síolta is a framework that can be used no matter what kind of curriculum you follow – whether it is play-based, Steiner, Froebel, Montessori or Primary school.

Principles of Siolta

The principles of Síolta are the core values that guide the way we work in early childhood care and education services. They guide how we organise our services, how we relate to children and families, to each other, the content of what we teach and the way in which it is taught.

Síolta has 12 principles which have been agreed in consultation with the early childhood sector.

Below we have provided you with an outline of these principles. You can also find the full list, with a description of each on the Siolta website.

Download a poster we produced listing the principles. Feel free to print and display in your service.

  • Early childhood is a significant and distinct time in life that must be nurtured, respected, valued and supported in its own right.
  • The child’s individuality, strengths, rights and needs are central in the provision of quality early childhood experiences.
  • Parents are the primary educators of the child and have a pre-eminent role in promoting her/his well-being, learning and development.
  • Responsive, sensitive and reciprocal relationships, which are consistent over time, are essential to the wellbeing, learning and development of the young child.
  • Equality is an essential characteristic of quality early childhood care and education.
  • Quality early childhood settings acknowledge and respect diversity and ensure that all children and families have their individual, personal, cultural and linguistic identity validated.
  • The physical environment of the young child has a direct impact on her/his well-being, learning and development.
  • The safety, welfare and well-being of all children must be protected and promoted in all early childhood environments.
  • The role of the adult in providing quality early childhood experiences is fundamental.
  • The provision of quality early childhood experiences requires cooperation, communication and mutual respect.
  • Pedagogy in early childhood is expressed by curricula or programmes of activities which take a holistic approach to the development and learning of the child and reflect the inseparable nature of care and education.
  • Play is central to the well-being, development and learning of the young child.
  • Early Childhood Ireland has produced a poster listing the principles and this is available for you to download, print and display in your service.

Standards of Síolta

Síolta has 16 standards that guide the way we provide and develop early childhood care and education services. These range from the Rights of the Child to Legislation and Regulation.

Each standard is broken down into components and questions that help us to reflect and think about improvements we could make.

Here, we have provided an overview of the 16 areas to which the standards relate but a further breakdown of the individual components of each standard is available on the Síolta website.

The 16 Standards:

> Rights of the Child
> Environments
> Parents and Families
> Consultation
> Interactions
> Play
> Curriculum
> Planning and Evaluation
> Health and Welfare
> Organisation
> Professional Practice
> Communication
> Transitions
> Identity and Belonging
> Legislation and Regulation
> Community Involvement

The Síolta Quality Assurance Programme and Self-Evaluation

 

Services participating in a Síolta Quality Assurance Programme engage in a process of self-evaluation. This means they need to be able to:

 

> describe their own practice in relation to each standard

> make plans for improving their practice and then carry out these plans

> collect a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate the progress they have made

 

The services are guided and supported in their aim of meeting these standards by a Síolta Coordinator.

Design & Development