The focussed inspections on the quality of educational provision in early childhood education settings participating in the Free Pre-school Year programme will draw on the expertise of the Early Childhood sector and take account of the approaches and interactions that support the learning and development of pre-school children who are aged 3 years or more.
The inspections will be informed by the existing national frameworks, Aistear (the curriculum framework for Early Years settings) and Síolta (the quality and self-evaluation framework for the early years’ sector), and research and development in early years’ settings in several other countries. The inspections will focus on a number of key areas, including:
- Quality of Context to support children's learning and development.
- Quality of process to support children's learning and development
- Quality of children’s learning experiences and achievements
- Quality of management and leadership for learning.
Each of these areas will have specific assessment criteria which will be used to inform the final report .
A key aim of the Education-Focussed inspections is to promote continuous improvement in early childhood education settings. The inspections will seek to affirm good practice and to provide sound advice and recommendations for improvement. The inspections will seek to foster professional dialogue with the practitioners and other personnel in each setting. In addition to verbal feedback, a written report which includes recommendations for practice will be issued to each setting. The written report will be published and be available to parents and the public.
Before the publication of the report, services will have an opportunity to respond to the findings of the report and the response will also be published alongside the report.
The education-focussed inspections carried out by the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills will complement the inspections carried out by the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) Early Years’ Inspectorate.
The TUSLA Early Years’ Inspectorate will continue to have responsibility for the regulatory inspection of all pre-school provision for children from aged 0 to 6 years to ensure compliance with the current Child Care Regulations (2006), with forthcoming new regulations and with the new registration requirements for early childhood settings. Reports by TUSLA’s Early Years’ Inspectorate will continue to be published and provide an important source of information for parents and practitioners.
The inspections carried out by the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills will focus on the improvement of educational provision for pre-school children who are aged 3 years or more in early childhood education settings participating in the Free Pre-school Year programme. They will be a separate programme of inspections but they will complement fully the regulatory inspections by the TUSLA Early Years’ Inspectorate.
Both Inspectorates are committed to working closely to ensure that the inspection processes complement each other, to minimise disruption to the work of early years’ settings and to avoid unnecessary administrative burdens on leaders and practitioners in early years’ centres. Together the work of both Inspectorates will provide robust quality assurance and support the improvement of the quality of provision in early childhood settings.