03 December, 2014 - Minister O’Sullivan Announces New Early Years Education Advisory Group

Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, TD, today announced the membership of the new Early Years Education Advisory Group.  The Minister made her announcement in an address to the Start Strong conference in Dublin this afternoon.

The Group will provide advice to the Minister on education issues in the early years sector (0-6 age group).

Membership of the Group includes organisations such as Start Strong, Early Childhood Ireland and Barnardos.  In recognition of the importance of those working in the sector the INTO, IMPACT, and the Association of Childcare Professionals are also represented on the Group.

According to Minister O’Sullivan, “The Early Years Education Advisory Group will play an important part in guiding policy in this critical sector in the coming years.  The Group draws on the wide experience across the sector and brings that together in a formal structure.  I wish the Group well in its work and I intend to have a constructive dialogue with the Group in relation to its analysis and recommendations.”

The formation of the advisory group is one of a number of measures that Minister O’Sullivan is taking to promote and enhance the quality of education for our youngest children.  In early 2015 she will begin an important review on the education and training programmes that result in qualifications in early years care and education.  The review will begin with a public consultation.  The coming weeks will also see the recruitment of a dedicated team of early years childhood education inspectors.  These inspectors will work to improve and enhance educational standards within the sector. 

Minister O’Sullivan concluded, “Enhancing standards and setting out a sustainable, high-quality future for early years education is a priority for Government.  I will be working closely with my colleague, Minister James Reilly, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on a range of initiatives aimed at providing our youngest citizens with the best education and care.”

Ends.

Note for Editors:

The full membership of the Early Years Education Advisory Group is:

NCCA

SOLAS

Irish Universities Association

Institutes of Technology Ireland

County Childcare Committees

Better Start, the National Early Years Quality Support Service

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency

Parents representatives

Barnardos

Early Childhood Ireland

Start Strong

Association of Childcare Professionals

INTO

IMPACT

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Department of Education and Skills

Department of Education, Northern Ireland

The Terms of Reference for the Advisory Group are as follows: 

• To provide a forum for exchange of ideas and best practice in relation to early years education.

• To coordinate existing education-related activity within the early years sector. 

• To advise on means by which the quality of early years education can be strengthened. 

• To ensure that the implications for the early years sector, of policy decisions adopted by the Department of Education and Skills or its agencies, are fully considered.  

• To strengthen the integration of early years education into the overall education continuum.

• To advise the Department of Education and Skills on, and inform future policy development in relation to, early years education issues. This could include, but not be confined to, consideration of issues such as the following: 

o the review of early years qualifications across the further and higher education sectors;

o the potential to regulate the profession of early years practitioner;

o data collection and measuring educational outcomes in the early years sector; 

o the continued implementation of the Síolta Quality Assurance Programme; 

o the development of policy in relation to the location of pre-schools in primary schools;

o the inclusion of children with special needs and from disadvantaged backgrounds.

• To plan for an annual Early Years Education forum. 

The Advisory Group will report to the Minister on a six monthly basis.