The structure of early childhood education in Ireland is unique. In spite of the benefits of early childhood education, the country continues to underinvest in the sector. This neglect has major implications for children’s lives or society at large. Research has shown that investing in early childhood education enhances later learning outcomes and reduces the ‘lost talent’ effect. In addition, a holistic approach to early childhood education can reduce public expenditure and foster greater equity.
Historically, Ireland has faced a culture of resistance to state intervention. For example, women were not allowed to work outside the home, despite the right granted by the Irish Constitution. However, the country’s economic development has changed its cultural practices. This is particularly evident in the field of early childhood care and education, where the vast majority of workers are part-time women in precarious jobs.
Targeted support for early childhood education in public policies
Targeted supports for early childhood education in Ireland are an important element of the government’s policy framework. These policies should improve the quality of early learning and care. This systemic reform will benefit millions of children and their families. The OECD’s Quality Beyond Regulations project is one example of a policy that can enhance process quality.
Targeted supports for early childhood education are an important element of the Early Start Programme, which aims to address the disadvantages faced by children who are not reaching their full potential. This programme offers one-year preventative intervention services to children in disadvantaged areas. Local health offices and voluntary bodies also provide services for young children with profound or severe disabilities.
‘Nordic’ approach to evaluating the quality of early childhood education
The Nordic approach to early childhood education is based on principles and values common to many Nordic countries. These include a focus on child-centredness, play and learning, professionalism, and equal opportunities for all children. In addition to these principles, the Nordic approach focuses on the overall well-being of children.
The Nordic approach in the structure of early childhood education in Ireland provides evaluation quality and it has several benefits, including promoting the inclusion of early childhood services within the larger school system. This allows the programs to be more widely available to families, while also allowing for greater public investment.
The Structure of early childhood education in Ireland as a four-year programme
Those interested in teaching early childhood children can choose from a range of four-year programmes available in Ireland. These programmes will give you the knowledge and skills needed for careers in early childhood education, ranging from teaching assistant to the preschool educator. The courses will prepare you to meet the challenges of the profession and develop your leadership skills.
Upon completion of a four-year early childhood education programme, graduates can continue their studies by undertaking a master’s degree in the field. The MIE offers a Professional Master of Education (Primary Teaching) programme, and students with appropriate QQI awards may apply for competitive entry. More information on QQI qualifications accepted by the college is available here.