The first reports of education-focused inspections in pre-schools participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme implemented by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs were published by the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills on the 30th June 2016.
These inspections examine the quality of pre-schools’ provision for children’s learning and report on the standards of young children’s learning in the early years’ settings. They provide information to parents about how well pre-schools are providing suitable learning experiences for young children and how well children’s needs are being met by pre-school staff. The clear, easy-to-read reports are available on the DES website, www.education.ie and on the DCYA website, www.dcya.ie
Since mid-April 2016, when the inspections began, a total of 182 pre-schools have been inspected. The inspections are being carried out by specialist early-years inspectors in the DES Inspectorate on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Education and Skills.
The early-years education-focused inspections are part of a range of steps being taken by both Departments to improve quality and standards in the early-years sector. As well as reporting on the quality of the provision in the pre-schools, the early-years’ inspectors advise staff in the pre-schools about how to improve their work with children. These education-focused inspections complement the regulatory inspections carried out by TUSLA, the regulatory body for early-years provision.
The inspections reflect the broad range of early-years settings delivering the ECCE programme. The reports describe many positive features of the pre-schools visited, including the strong commitment of pre-school staffs to deliver high quality education experiences for children. The reports also show the challenges facing the early-years sector, many of which need to be addressed through investment and capacity building. Some of these challenges include: inclusion of children from diverse backgrounds, fostering positive partnerships with parents and enabling smooth transitions from preschool to primary school.
Welcoming the announcement, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD said, “The Programme for Government commits to prioritising early years’ investment to reap a host of positive outcomes, including higher secondary school completion, employment rates and higher lifetime earnings. These measures underpin a targeted investment approach based on international best practice for young children. These inspections are part of a range of steps being taken by government to improve quality and standards in the early-years sector.”
Today’s announcement is a very positive development and one which parents in particular will welcome. Improving the quality of early years provision and providing accessible information to parents about schools and pre-schools is a priority for me.”
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD said "the Early Childhood Care and Education programme has transformed daily life for thousands of families, thanks to the dedication, hard work and skills of providers. I want to thank all who co-operated with the inspections which will ensure that we maintain the high level of service available while at the same time providing information to parents to allow them to make informed decisions when choosing pre-school for their children."
“These inspections will certainly support the other steps that I and my Department are taking to improve the opportunities for young learners at a very crucial stage of their learning and development” she added.