26th January 2017 - Increased funding and regulation of Early Years Education is paying dividends, say Primary Principals

Early Years Education in Ireland was put on a more regulated platform during the first decade of the millennium when the quality frameworks of Siolta and Aistear were introduced. This was followed by the free ECCE year in 2010. However, no formal analysis of the impact of these measures on the transitioning of preschool children to primary school has ever been carried out to date.

In the lead up to the Annual Conference of the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) which will be attended by over 1,100 primary school leaders in Citywest Convention Centre on Thursday and Friday of this week, almost 550 principals were asked if the transition from an early years setting to mainstream primary school had become less traumatic for children since Aistear/Siolta and the ECCE scheme were introduced.

Responses confirm that these recent developments in the preschool sector are bearing fruit. Almost 60% of responding primary school Principals felt that children were adjusting better to the transition from preschool to primary school in recent years, while 35% reported that they noticed no appreciable difference.

When asked if schools were implementing the Aistear Curriculum Framework, 77% of principals replied in the affirmative. The questionnaire also revealed that more than 9 out of 10 principals leading the implementation of Aistear in their schools would highly recommend it as an excellent play-based learning tool.

Maria Doyle, President of IPPN, said “Quality assurance in early year’s education is central to ensuring we get value for money from the ECCE Scheme. The implementation of Aistear - which focuses on the child’s identity, belonging, self-esteem and communication skills through a play based curriculum - enables the child to acquire the skills to complete a smooth, stress free transition to mainstream education. These skills will stand to the child in good stead through his/her eight years of primary education”.

The IPPN President goes on to complement the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for introducing the second free preschool year but expresses disappointment that the roll-out of Aistear at Primary level is disjointed and lacking of resources.


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