29th January - Two years of free pre-school would lessen social inequality

Two years of free pre-school would lessen social inequality, says IPPN President.

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) free preschool year has been a huge success. Children are now finding the transition to mainstream easier and have developed strong school readiness and integration skills in most instances. They also have higher levels of cognitive and speech and language development.

Brendan McCabe, President of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN), told members, “I believe a second free ECCE year would be a wonderful investment in our children’s future.  It would allow our children to enter primary school on a much more level playing pitch.”


Speaking to over 1,100 school principals, the IPPN President told conference attendees that one of the most unpalatable features of developed countries is social inequality with Ireland being no exception in this regard

According to Mr McCabe, “By age three, research tells us that there will be a one year gap in readiness and by age five, there will be a fifteen month gap in language development.

He said that by the time children are ready to start mainstream schooling, those from advantaged backgrounds are likely to have spent at least two years in preschool education. While other children depend solely on the one free preschool year to develop school readiness.

Mr McCabe noted that children who are stimulated educationally at an early age have immediate social, mental and physical advantages. Educational aspirations are formed early and remain stable thereafter.

With the centenary of the 1916 Rising approaching, the IPPN President believes that, in line with 1916 proclamation sentiments, this would be a meaningful step in cherishing all the children of the nation equally.

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