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Education-focused Inspections in Early Years Settings

In Autumn 2015, the Department of Education & Skills will begin a pilot programme of inspections where early-years inspectors will visit early-years services participating in the ECCE scheme, to evaluate the quality of educational provision in those services. The inspections will be unannounced, and inspectors will spend no more than day with a service. The Department of Education & Skills have published a quality framework for the scheme, available below in English and in Irish. Gaelscoileanna Teo. is engaging with the Department re the implications this scheme will have for naíonraí, and how the scheme will facilitate services run through the medium of Irish.

A Guide to Early-Years Education-focused Inspection (EYEI) in Early-Years Settings Participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme (2016) was published by the Department of Education & Skills on 11 April 2016. The published Guide sets out the practices and procedures involved in the EYEI process which are effective from 11 April 2016. Early-years education-focused inspection (EYEI) evaluates the nature, range and appropriateness of the early educational experiences for children participating in the ECCE Programme.

Language development is one of the primary educational aims in naíonraí participating in the ECCE scheme. In the quality framework outlined by the Department, the references to ‘language’ pertain to the Irish language where the service is provided through the medium of Irish. The Department of Education & Skills does not intend to assess the language proficiency of stiúrthóirí naíonra directly as part of the quality continuum. However, it does intend to assess the capacity of stiúrthóirí naíonra to provide support for the development of the children’s language skills. As part of this assessment, particular attention will be paid to how stiúrthóirí demonstrate appropriate language use to the children in early-years settings and how the children’s language development is assisted.

The inspectors will give feedback and practical advice to the practitioners, as well as recommendations for the improvement of the service to promote the learning and development of children. Those working in the early-years sector will have the chance to give feedback on how these inspections are carried out. Further information on the scheme is available from the Department, email eyei@education.gov.ie or call 01 8896516.