ECEC Study Visit in Dublin

Our Erasmus+ project SEQUENCES on quality assurance in the early childhood sector made it possible for EPA Vice President Arja Krauchenberg and our ECEC expert, Ljiljana Vasic to participate at a study visit to Dublin between 25th and 29th April. Read Arja’s detailed and informative report below.

Our hosts, Early Childhood Ireland, first provided us with an overview of the Irish system in the sector which offers a lot of freedom to providers in terms of opening hours, choice of curriculum, monitoring and funding.
Two quality frameworks were put in place some time ago (Síolta - created to support innovation in schools and educational settings in general, targeting rather 'physical' requirements, and Aistear -  focussing on early childhood curriculum, the content) but have now been 'melted' into one programme with the coordinators of the two frameworks working together in order to ensure better quality and higher standards. Both ladies came to speak to us and explain the new approach as well as a representative of the AIM Better start programme which focusses on access and inclusion and uses mentoring as model of support.

The Hungarian partner, Corvinus University, presented the results of the survey in which also many parents participated and explained that there is actually an unbalance between parents and practitioners as in some countries almost only parents answered the questionnaire and in other almost exclusively practitioners obviously due to the background of who send out the survey (parents' association or teachers' union).  We might have to ask for clarification  in some cases where the results are very divergent.

For the visits to EC facilities we were divided into four groups of four in order not to arrive in a huge bulk at the sometimes rather small places. At the centre I visited, I was most impressed by the way the 'learning through play' approach was implemented by the two teachers in a group of 16 children between 3 and 5 years old. They actually take the questions and remarks of children to turn them into learning opportunities and don't follow any strict lesson plans. The children are observed while given the possibility to play freely and these observations are used to develop topics and projects - everything being precisely documented, absolutely stunning. On the other hand, they only offer half-day care, 3,5 hours to a morning group and 3,5 hours to an afternoon group. They don't serve lunch (that would require a lot more investment following rather strict rules) and children bring their own snack. They used to be exclusively parents' funded (€ 80 per week) but now receive government funding (under a new law: € 64 per child/per week) asking parents to complement by paying an additional € 30 per month per child in order to be able to keep the high standard especially with regard to the material (every child receives a photo album at the end of the term, completes a file with all it's drawings and other works,...)

The last one and a half days were dedicated to group work, planning and starting to build the tool-kit and distributing the tasks for the next months.

No comments:

Post a Comment