13 April, 2016 - Commencement of Education-focused Inspections in Early-Years Settings participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme

Commencement of Education-focused Inspections in Early-Years Settings participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme

The Department of Education and Skills (DES) and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) today announced the commencement of education-focused inspections in pre-schools participating in the government’s Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme. The early-years education-focused model of inspection, which has been approved by the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly, will be conducted by the DES Inspectorate. A guide to the inspections, A Guide to Early-Years Education-focused Inspection (EYEI) in Early-Years Settings Participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme (2016), was published today.

Welcoming the development Minister O’Sullivan said, “This is a very positive development and one which parents in particular are extremely interested in. Enhancing the educational quality of early years was a priority I set when I became Minister for Education and Skills and I am particularly proud to see the start of this new initiative.

“I would like to acknowledge the very constructive role that a range of stakeholders, including early-years providers, played in developing this initiative. They have worked closely with officials from my Department and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the result is that we now have a new programme that is robust, responsive and practical. “

Minister Reilly said "I welcome the introduction of the Early Years Education Inspections. This new initiative will further strengthen the child-centred approach adopted by the Departments of Children and Youth Affairs and Educations and Skill. The development will also be important in supporting the on-going development of quality in the early years sector. It is a positive step forward."

The early-years education-focused inspections are part of the wider quality agenda for the early-years sector. Both departments, the DES and DCYA, have been working closely together to improve the quality of provision in pre-schools. Further, the education focused inspections will complement the inspections carried out by TUSLA, the regulatory body for early-years provision.

The new inspections build on existing curriculum and quality assurance frameworks for pre-schools, most notably, Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, and Síolta: the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education. During the inspections, the DES early-years inspectors will monitor the quality of the educational experiences provided for children in pre-schools and will give feedback and practical advice to practitioners about how provision can be improved.

Sign-off by both Ministers on the new inspections follows a comprehensive developmental and consultation process. During that process, pilot inspections were carried out in 55 pre-schools and the Inspectorate consulted with key stakeholder groups including early-years practitioners, owners/managers of pre-school services, parents, academics, and organisations that provide support to early-years services.  

All EYEI inspections conducted from 11 April onwards will result in a written inspection report which will be published on the DES and DCYA websites. It is anticipated that the first reports to be published will be available from June 2016 and that the publication process will, in addition to making information available to parents and the early-years sector, bring about incremental improvement in education provision in pre-schools.

The guide to the inspections can be found on the Department’s website:

ENDS.

For further information, please contact:

Press Office, Department of Education and Skills