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Ireland:Early Childhood Education and Care

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Overview Ireland

Contents

Ireland:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Ireland:Historical Development

Ireland:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Ireland:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Ireland:Political and Economic Situation

Ireland:Organisation and Governance

Ireland:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Ireland:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Ireland:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Ireland:Organisation of Private Education

Ireland:National Qualifications Framework

Ireland:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Ireland:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Ireland:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Ireland:Funding in Education

Ireland:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Ireland:Higher Education Funding

Ireland:Adult Education and Training Funding

Ireland:Early Childhood Education and Care

Ireland:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Ireland:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Ireland:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

Ireland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Ireland:Primary Education

Ireland:Organisation of Primary Education

Ireland:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Ireland:Assessment in Primary Education

Ireland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Ireland:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Ireland:Organisation of Lower Secondary Education

Ireland:Teaching and Learning in Lower Secondary Education

Ireland:Assessment in Lower Secondary Education

Ireland:Organisation of Upper Secondary Education

Ireland:Teaching and Learning in Upper Secondary Education

Ireland:Assessment in Upper Secondary Education

Ireland:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Ireland:Higher Education

Ireland:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Ireland:First Cycle Programmes

Ireland:Bachelor

Ireland:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Ireland:Second Cycle Programmes

Ireland:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Ireland:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Ireland:Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Distribution of Responsibilities

Ireland:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Ireland:Main Providers

Ireland:Main Types of Provision

Ireland:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Ireland:Teachers and Education Staff

Ireland:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Ireland:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Ireland:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Ireland:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Management and Other Education Staff

Ireland:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Staff Involved in Monitoring Education Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Ireland:Management Staff for Higher Education

Ireland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Ireland:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Quality Assurance

Ireland:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Ireland:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Educational Support and Guidance

Ireland:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Ireland:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Ireland:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Ireland:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Ireland:Mobility and Internationalisation

Ireland:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Mobility in Higher Education

Ireland:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Ireland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Ireland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Ireland:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Ireland:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Ireland:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Ireland:National Reforms in School Education

Ireland:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Ireland:National Reforms in Higher Education

Ireland:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Ireland:European Perspective

Ireland:Legislation

Ireland:Glossary

Since 2000, significant progress has been made towards the establishment of high quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) provision in Ireland. Unlike other European countries, Ireland does not have a long tradition of young children attending pre-school services. The compulsory school age in Ireland is 6 and all forms of pre-primary education are optional. However, children from the age of 4 can be enrolled in infant classes in primary schools. Approximately 40% of 4-year-olds and virtually all 5-year-olds attend primary school, where early education is provided by trained teachers in infant classes.


In addition to the provision for children in the infant classes in primary schools, the Department of Education and Skills funds some specific pre-primary services. These include:

  • Early Start Programme: a pre-primary initiative in designated areas of urban disadvantage, for children who are most at risk of not succeeding in education. The total number of spaces provided by the existing 40 Early Start centres is over 1,650.
  • Rutland Street Project: a programme in a Dublin inner city community. Although not part of Early Start, it was used to pilot many of the approaches later incorporated in the Early Start project.

With the exception of the above, early childhood education and care services in Ireland are delivered outside the formal education system, by a diverse range of private, community and voluntary interests and are described variously as crèches, nurseries, pre-schools, naíonraí (Irish language pre-schools), playgroups and daycare services. Government investment in such provision is primarily implemented by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.In 2015 /2016   4,178 early years service providers were contracted to offer the Ecce  programme nationally , 75% of which were private and 25%  were community service providers.  (Pobal 2016)

The 'free' Pre-School Year scheme(Early Childhood Care and Education, or ECCE scheme) was Introduced In January 2010 and is administered by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Under the terms of this initiative, ail children are entitled to up to two free of charge pre-school years of appropriate programme-based activities in the year/s prior to starting primary school. While participation is voluntary, there has been a very positive response to the scheme. Approximately 104,441 or 95% of eligible children were enrolled In pre-school services in the 2015/2016 school year.

 

 The regulatory environment is split between the Department of Education and Skills whose Inspectorate has responsibility for all activities in primary schools and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs whose Pre-School Inspectorate monitor the implementation of the 2006 Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations.