Minister O’Sullivan announces the first major review of education and training programmes for early years sector

Advisory Group on Early Years Education issues to be established for the first time

The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’ Sullivan TD, has announced the first major review of education and training programmes that lead to qualifications in the early years care and education sector.

This area has received increased attention in recent years through the introduction in 2010 of minimum requirements for those delivering the free pre-school year, and through the findings of a major study by the European Commission in 2011 on ‘Competence Requirements in Early Childhood Education and Care’.

The review will be conducted by the Department of Education and Skills, with input from relevant stakeholders as appropriate.

There will be a public consultation process to gather the views of those involved in delivering programmes leading to early years’ qualifications, as well as graduates of these programmes.

Announcing the review, Minister O’Sullivan highlighted the importance of the sector: “Through early years education, we can ensure that all children receive the necessary supports to enable them to develop to their full potential. The education and training sector has a key role to play in ensuring that those working with young children are appropriately qualified to facilitate that process.

“This review will make sure that we are equipping graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills and disposition to enable them to support children’s educational development”. 

The review will examine a number of different issues including:

The Minister also announced her intention to establish an Advisory Group to advise the Department on early years education issues, including the review of education and training programmes. The Advisory Group will also help to strengthen the integration of early years education into the overall education continuum, and co-ordinate existing education-related activity in the sector.

The Group will be established later this year and will be chaired by a senior Department official. It will have representatives from relevant stakeholders, parents, non-governmental organisations, and statutory agencies.

Both the review of qualification programmes and the establishment of the Advisory Group will ensure a coordinated policy response to children’s early educational needs. The Minister noted: “My Department has policy responsibility for early years education. It is already significantly involved through initiatives such as Aistear, Síolta, the Early Start pre-school programme, and the provision of infant classes in primary schools.

“However, I want to ensure that early years education is effectively integrated into the overall education continuum, and these new developments will make a large contribution to making sure that this happens.” 

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