Siolta: The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education in Ireland

By Maresa Duignan, Jacqueline Fallon, Maria O’Dwyer, Heino Schonfeld and Thomas Walsh.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Síolta is an Irish word meaning “seeds”. It has been adopted as the name of the National framework for quality in Early Childhood Education in Ireland as it conceptualizes the potential for growth and development contained within the framework. This paper presents the story of the journey, to date, towards the provision of quality in early education in Ireland. It describes the unique process of consultation with a diverse range of stakeholders which formed the core of the framework development process. In addition it discusses the contents of the framework materials and briefly outlines the future plans for development into practice.

Keywords: Quality, Early Education, Change

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 13, Issue 11, pp.17-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 896.214KB).

Ms Maresa Duignan

Assistant Director, Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, Ireland

Maresa Duignan is Assistant Director of the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education located in Dublin, Ireland. Her research interests include Professional Development and Change processes in Education.

Jacqueline Fallon

Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, Ireland

Jacqueline Fallon is a Development Officer in the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education. She worked for many years as a Primary school teacher in schools designated as disadvantaged, mainly with young children under the age of eight. From 1995 until 2002 when she joined the CECDE, Jacqueline operated a Department of Education and Science pre-school. Entitled Early Start, this is a pilot intervention project which provides one year of pre-school education for children aged three to four years in areas identified as being socially and economically disadvantaged. During that time, she was involved in the development of the Early Start Curricular Guidelines, delivered in-service education to other Early Start personnel, as well as induction support for teachers in their first year in Early Start. In her work as a Development Officer, she has a particular interest in the issue of educational disadvantage and the potential of early childhood education to alleviate its long term impact.

Maria O’Dwyer

Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, Ireland

Dr Maria O’Dwyer is a Development Officer with the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, based in Dublin. Her work within the Centre focuses largely on two areas – diversity and parental involvement. Dr Maria O’Dwyer’s Ph.D focuses on the link between diversity training and conflict resolution among young children, and was influenced largely by her work and research with Travellers (Ireland’s indigenous ethnic minority). Her research considers the relationship between the sociology of education and the psychology of learning, using the formal curriculum as the juncture between the two, where anti-bias training and education can be implemented.

Heino Schonfeld

Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, Ireland

Heino Schonfeld has been Director of the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) since June 2002. A native of Germany, he trained as a Social Pedagogue in Berlin and practised in Germany, the United States and - since 1987 – Ireland. He was Head of the National Children’s Resource Centre at Barnardos prior to his current position. Heino is a member of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the National Childcare Coordinating Committee. He has contributed to the recent NESF report on Early Childhood Care and Education and was a member of the High Level Group on Early Childhood Education and Care reporting to the Cabinet Committee on Children. He participated as a member of the review team in the OECD review of early childhood care and education in Hungary in 2002.

Thomas Walsh

Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, Ireland

Dr. Thomas Walsh is a Development Officer at the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE). He previously worked as a primary school teacher in the Dublin area. He has an M.Ed and Ph.D in Education from the National University of Ireland Maynooth, where his doctorate focused on the historical evolution of the primary school curriculum in Ireland. He was recently awarded the Dr. Mary L. Thornton award from the National University of Ireland for his doctoral studies. At the CECDE, his primary role relates to the coordination of the research strategy at the Centre, focusing on the care and education of young children aged birth to six years. He also lectures part-time at St. Patrick’s College of Education and the National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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