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Early Childhood


First Ever Graduates of the Flexible Learning BA Degree in Early Childhood Education & Care at TUS

Pictured at the conferring ceremony of the Flexible Learning BA Degree in Early Childhood Education and Care at the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) are:

President Professor Vincent Cunnane with Sabrina Shortt O’Meara, Raheen, and Carla Geraghty, Janesboro.
Photo: Arthur Ellis.

The Temptations of Block Play

Approaches to reconceptualising and reforming the Irish early childhood education and care system

This review of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Ireland in 2021 takes a systems perspective to ask what crisis lessons, if any, have been learned from the pandemic, what progress has been made, and what new perils have arisen. As the sector edges towards professionalisation, are we any nearer to a universal, rights-based, public ECEC system?

Mathias Urban
Mathias Urban
Desmond Chair of Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Research Centre, Dublin City University

Early Learning and Care Experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Findings from early years education inspection

The temporary closures of early learning and care (ELC) settings in 2020–21 had significant negative effects on the lives and education of children in Ireland. Early years inspectors at the Department of Education interviewed owners and managers of ELC settings to discuss the challenges and successes. This article describes the findings, which include a strong capacity for resilience, creativity, and professionalism.

Dr Maresa Duignan
Assistant Chief Inspector
Aishling Kelly
Aishling Kelly
Early Years Education Inspector

Updating Aistear

Reflecting on the rationale and process for updating Ireland’s early childhood curriculum framework

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) has begun updating Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, now 12 years old. This article provides a background to the framework, then summarises the rationale for updating it, with reference to some national changes since the framework was published that impact on the curriculum. It concludes with an overview of the plans for updating the framework.

Jacqueline Fallon
Director, Curriculum and Assessment;

Lorraine Farrell
National Aistear Development Officer;

Derek Grant
Director, Curriculum and Assessment;

Mary Daly
Education Officer, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

If Children Designed Early Childhood Education Settings

A Child Voice project based on drawings and narratives by young children

Children have the right to be asked to contribute to the dialogue on the provision of Early Childhood Education in Ireland. This article shows that children have much to say on the subject, if we take the time to ask them and listen to what they have to say. It is crucial, however, that while listening to their opinions, we also act on their wishes. It is hoped that this article will go some way towards fulfilling that ambition.

Nicola O’Reilly
Nicola O’Reilly
Early Childhood Educator; Lecturer, School of Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education, Dublin City University

The Power of Learning Stories

A meaningful tool in quality Early Learning and Care

This article highlights the power of learning stories as a method of documentation in early childhood education. It looks at some of Early Childhood Ireland’s Learning Story Award winners, who powerfully demonstrate the quality practice that remained their main priority through the pandemic in 2021. Settings were creative, flexible, and determined while continuously offering quality play and learning to children in their care.

Catherine McHugh
Catherine McHugh
Early Childhood Specialist, Early Childhood Ireland

A Key Year for Policy Reform in Early Learning and Care

Policy reforms under First 5, and responses to Covid-19

2021 has been a key year in realising the ambition of First 5 to develop an effective early childhood system. A series of major policy reforms for early learning and care and school-age childcare reached important points of development during the year. At the same time, government measures on Covid-19 have supported both public health and the sustainability of services while enabling innovations.

Toby Wolfe
Toby Wolfe
Principal Officer, ELC/SAC Quality, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Hazel O’Byrne
Hazel O’Byrne
Principal Officer, ELC/ SAC Policy, Strategy, and Research, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

The Hedgehog and Me

A parent’s view of early childhood education and care in Ireland

This article identifies the value of the free Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme and explains areas where improvement would be welcome from a parent’s perspective. It illustrates how the curriculum met the evolving needs of a preschooler who loves hedgehogs, and it documents a parent’s journey from preschool in America to a community-based ECCE programme in rural Ireland.

Kate McDonnell
Kate McDonnell
Celtic Singer

Traveller Pride in Early Childhood Education and Care

Traveller children, as a ‘minority within a minority’, face complex challenges of inequality and neglect in their access to early childhood education and care. This article provides an overview of recent developments towards meeting those needs at the levels of policy and structure. It outlines the key strategies at play and makes recommendations for future action.

Dr Colette Murray
Dr Colette Murray
Lecturer, Technological University Dublin
Tracey Reilly
Tracey Reilly
BSocSc, Education Worker, Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre

Other Chapters Ireland's Education Yearbook 2021

Ireland's Education Yearbook 2021 is supported by:

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