Evidence and Perspectives

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1 Evidence and Perspectives Edited by Jacqueine Faon

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS ACRONYMS SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION 1 SECTION 2: HISTORIC AND CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES Introduction Chidhood in retrospect Famiies changing in changing times Chidren s rights Care and education Curricuar context Deveopments in provision Diversity Language Pay Concusion Impications for the NQF/ECCE 14 SECTION 3: THEMATIC PERSPECTIVE ON THE LEARNING AND DEVELOPING CHILD Introduction Chid-centred earning and deveopment Hoistic earning and deveopment Environments for earning and deveopment Reationships in earning and deveopment Diversity in earning and deveopment Communication in earning and deveopment Pay for earning and deveopment Concusion 28 SECTION 4: CONCLUSION 29 REFERENCES 31 APPENDIX 1: SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY 33

3 ACRONYMS BCCN: Border Counties Chidcare Network CCC: City and County Chidcare Committees CECDE: Centre for Eary Chidhood Deveopment and Education DES: Department of Education and Science DHC: Department of Heath and Chidren DIT: Dubin Institute of Technoogy DoE: Department of Education DSCFA: Department of Socia, Community and Famiy Affairs ECCE: Eary Chidhood Care and Education ECEA: Eary Chidhood Education Agency EEC: European Economic Community EOCP: Equa Opportunities Chidcare Programme HSCL: Home Schoo Community Liaison NAPS: Nationa Anti-Poverty Strategy NCCA: Nationa Counci for Curricuum and Assessment NCCC: Nationa Coordinating Chidcare Committee NCO: Nationa Chidren s Office NQF/ECCE: Nationa Quaity Framework for Eary Chidhood Care and Education NVCC: Nationa Vountary Chidcare Coaborative NVCO: Nationa Vountary Chidcare Organisation OECD: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Deveopment PCSP: Primary Curricuum Support Programme SDPS: Schoo Deveopment Panning Service UN: United Nations UNCRC: United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Chid UNESCO: United Nations Educationa, Scientific and Cutura Organisation

4 Section 1 Introduction The Centre for Eary Chidhood Deveopment and Education (CECDE) is peased to pubish this discussion paper, Eary Chidhood in Ireand - Evidence and Perspectives. This document is the ast of the four piars of research which the CECDE has put in pace to support the deveopment of the Nationa Quaity Framework for Eary Chidhood Care and Education (NQF/ECCE). It encapsuates the perspective from which the chid s interests are being incorporated into the NQF/ECCE. It is aso hoped that it wi provide a usefu resource for the ECCE sector and a basis for fruitfu debate and discussion. It articuates we with the Nationa Chidren s Strategy, Our Chidren, Their Lives (Department of Heath and Chidren [DHC], 2000) and Towards a Framework for Eary Learning (Nationa Counci for Curricuum and Assessment [NCCA], 2004). The deveopment of a strong consensus position among key agencies with responsibiity for young chidren wi benefit the future co-ordination and cohesiveness of ECCE in Ireand. 1.1 The Centre for Eary Chidhood Deveopment and Education (CECDE) The CECDE was estabished by the Minister for Education and Science in October 2002, with a brief to co-ordinate and deveop ECCE in Ireand in pursuance of the objectives of the White Paper on Eary Chidhood Education, Ready to Learn (DES, 1999a). It is managed jointy by St. Patrick s Coege and the Dubin Institute of Technoogy (DIT). The remit of the CECDE covers a settings for 1

5 Section 1 Introduction chidren between birth and six years, paying particuar attention to the needs of chidren experiencing disadvantage and chidren with specia needs. It bridges traditiona divides between care and education and chidcare settings and the forma schoo system. In this context, the CECDE has three main objectives: 1. The deveopment of the NQF/ECCE, which wi define quaity standards for eary chidhood settings, is the core project for the CECDE. In addition to defining quaity, the framework wi propose appropriate support mechanisms for those working in ECCE in Ireand. A system of assessment and evauation wi be devised to ensure that the quaity standards wi be reaised and maintained. These three eements, defining, assessing and supporting quaity, form the structure of the NQF/ECCE. 2. To deveop and impement targeted interventions in the areas of specia needs and disadvantage with chidren in the birth to six years age group. There are currenty three such targeted intervention projects in progress under the auspices of the CECDE. 3. Finay, the CECDE is charged with preparing the groundwork for the estabishment of the Eary Chidhood Education Agency (ECEA) as envisaged by the White Paper on Eary Chidhood Education, Ready to Learn (DES, 1999a). 1.2 Eary Chidhood in Ireand - Evidence and Perspectives Increasing knowedge about chidhood, and eary chidhood deveopment and earning, has much to contribute toward understanding the nature of quaity in ECCE. The primary purpose of this document is to contribute to the NQF/ECCE for Ireand. The CECDE Programme of Work (CECDE, 2001) and the CECDE Research Strategy (CECDE, 2003) prioritise the preparation of a conceptua framework discussing how chidren from birth to six years earn and deveop: It is envisaged that the first action reating to the deveopment of quaity standards wi invove setting out a conceptua framework describing how chidren (from 0 to 6 years) deveop and earn. (CECDE, 2001:2) Review Document Initiay, the CECDE commissioned a iterature review on the five deveopmenta domains (physica, socio-emotiona, cognitive, mora and spiritua) 1 in the birth to six years age group. This resuted in a substantia and extensive review which wi be of interest to students, researchers, practitioners and others with a focus on the deveopment of the young chid. This initia paper was augmented by two further sections which were researched and written by CECDE staff. The first of these sections reviews the historica and cutura context of ECCE in Ireand from the end of the nineteenth century to approximatey The second section discusses current perspectives on ECCE in Ireand from 1990 to the present. The resuting compete document, known as the Review Document has formed the basis for this discussion paper. The Review Document wi not be pubished, but wi be avaiabe on request from the CECDE. Once the Review Document was finaised, the CECDE used it in a number of ways. Primariy, it informed the deveopment of the NQF/ECCE and, secondy, it provided the evidence base for this CECDE discussion paper on eary chidhood in Ireand. The evidence has been condensed and distied for the purposes of this paper in order to iustrate the vaues which characterise the NQF/ECCE. In this context, references have not been incuded throughout this document. However, a seect bibiography of iterature pubished since 1990 is incuded in the Bibiography. This does not refect the entirety of the iterature consuted in the preparation of the Review Document Terminoogy Because of the rapidy deveoping andscape in ECCE in Ireand, many issues to do with terminoogy have not yet been resoved. There are occasions within the text when terms are used as a summary of a very wide range of terminoogy in current use. For exampe, 1 The CECDE woud ike to acknowedge the work of Suzanne Cendenning and the Psychoogy Department, Queen s University Befast, for their work in preparing the iterature review. 2

6 Evidence and Perspectives personne who work with young chidren use a wide range of descriptive terms and tites. In order to be incusive of the broad range of peope who work with young chidren and the equay broad range of peope such as parents, grandparents, famiy and friends who are aso invoved, a of these peope are referred to as aduts or significant aduts. The term has no significance other than to refer to the adut who is supporting the chid at any given time and on any given occasion. research in the Review Document. The sections in the Review Document on chid deveopment and earning were anaysed to identify the key points reating to the aforementioned five deveopmenta domains. According to our view that a earning and deveopment is inter-reated and interdependent, it was decided to present the information thematicay. The themes were identified by cose textua anaysis and are as foows: Likewise, there is ongoing debate on the reationship between the concepts of earning and deveopment. For the purposes of this document, both earning and deveopment and deveopment and earning are used interchangeaby. Because of the importance of ceary understood anguage, the NQF/ECCE itsef wi have a gossary of terms and their associated meanings. Chid-centred earning and deveopment; Hoistic earning and deveopment; Environments for earning and deveopment; Reationships in earning and deveopment; 1.3 Structure of the document Section 2 - Historica and Cutura Perspectives discusses specific issues which are, to a greater or esser degree, the subject of debate currenty within the ECCE sector and beyond. It draws on both Section 1: Historica and Cutura Context of Eary Chidhood Care and Education in Ireand and Section 2: Current Perspectives on Eary Chidhood Care and Education in Ireand from the Review Document. The discussion is not exhaustive and does not address every issue raised in the Review Document. Instead, it paints a broad picture of the context in which constructions of eary chidhood have evoved here in Ireand over the past century or so. Section 3 - Thematic Perspective on the Learning and Deveoping Chid presents the substantive discussion on chid deveopment and earning. Again, this discussion is firmy based on the evidence and Diversity in earning and deveopment; Communication in earning and deveopment; Pay in earning and deveopment. This order is not intended as a hierarchy and the themes are inter-connected. They are not intended as stand aone eements but must be understood as a whoe. Each theme concudes with a number of impications for the deveopment of the NQF/ECCE, in reation to defining, assessing and supporting quaity. Section 4 - Concusion recaps on the document and its purpose, and outines the next steps in the deveopment of the NQF/ECCE. The CECDE recognizes that research and debate on eary chidhood is constanty evoving, and presents this document in that spirit. 3

7 Section 2 Historic and Cutura Perspectives 2.1 Introduction Chidhood is constructed over time and in a particuar cutura context. An understanding of the ways in which eary chidhood has been understood in Ireand in the past provides a frame of reference for our current anaysis. The Review Document contains a weath of information on the context in which chidhood evoved over the past century or so. In ight of this, some issues which are currenty the subject of debate are discussed in this section. These incude, among others, the history of nationa curricua for young chidren in Ireand, the changes in famiy ife over time and the impact of the growing diversity of our society. The discussion is not exhaustive, but attempts to iustrate the changing nature of chidhood and the dynamics of interaction between chidhood and arger socio-cutura conditions over the past century in Ireand. It reminds us that chidren have to negotiate these dynamics without such hindsight. It aso reminds us of the responsibiity we coectivey bear to provide soid footing for chidren when amost the ony constant is change. 2.2 Chidhood in retrospect The Nationa Chidren s Strategy (Department of Heath and Chidren [DHC], 2000:18) has, as one of its nationa goas, that: Chidren s ives wi be better understood; their ives wi benefit from evauation, research and information on their needs, rights and the effectiveness of services. 4

8 Evidence and Perspectives Certainy very itte is known about the ives of chidren historicay in Ireand. In recent years, a body of iterature has emerged in which, sady, the dominant image is of chidren s ives bighted by abuse. This image appears to have been a constant theme throughout the past century. Undoubtedy, this was not the reaity for many chidren and there is some anecdota information from isoated anthropoogica studies and memoirs to this effect. In genera, given the voumes of Irish history which have been written, the paucity of iterature on the ives of chidren is regrettabe. One coud take the view that conditions existed in which abuse coud happen. One of those conditions, possiby, is that the chidren were rendered invisibe, whether within the famiy or institutions. The egisative and constitutiona framework appicabe to chidren contributed to this situation and wi be outined in the section on chidren s rights. Chidren, by and arge, cannot ensure their own visibiity within our society as can other citizen groups. Therefore it is incumbent on society to recognise and honour the chid s citizenship. The Nationa Chidren s Strategy (DHC, 2000) incudes severa strands of research into chidren s ives which wi hopefuy sharpen the focus on, and raise awareness of, chidren s ives. Of course, with the gift of hindsight, the absence of the chid s own point of view over the past century is now obvious. This reaisation has been growing here in recent years, and it is now generay accepted that incuding the chid s opinions on issues which affect him 2 wi have to be a part of deveopments in the future. 2.3 Famiies changing in changing times Famiy ife is unique, depending on a the variabes which any given famiy experiences. That said, there is very itte information avaiabe on reationships within famiies over the course of the ast century. There is a sma number of anthropoogica studies, mainy conducted by internationa observers at extended sporadic intervas, and a number of memoirs. Whie these provide vauabe 2 The mae and femae pronouns wi be used in aternate sections. insights, they do not give a comprehensive picture and are drawn on judiciousy Historica context The environments in which our youngest chidren ive, grow and pay have changed dramaticay over the past century. For the best part of the twentieth century, young chidren were cared for in the famiy home and went to schoo sometime after the age of three. For much of that time, Irish society was argey agrarian based and chidren worked on the farm; work which had economic vaue to the famiy. Famiies were arge, twice as arge on average as those in the rest of Europe for most of the century. Chidren ived in househods which frequenty comprised members of the extended famiy. Emigration was a way of ife and many chidren must have grown up in the knowedge that they woud eave and not return. The Cathoic Church and the State operated a symbiotic reationship in reation to many aspects of Irish ife, incuding education, foowing Independence. In particuar, the Church appears to have had considerabe infuence in terms of famiy ife, a position consoidated by the 1937 Constitution.Changes began to occur in the 1950s when increasing industriaisation and urbanisation began to have an impact. Around this time, too, famiy size began to reduce. It was not unti the 1970s, though, that substantia numbers of women began to enter and stay in the paid workforce. This was party due to the ifting of the marriage bar in the civi service and the beginnings of movement towards parity of pay and rights for women with their mae coeagues foowing Ireand s entry into the European Economic Community (EEC). Out-of-home care arrangements for chidren then became a necessity for some famiies Contemporary experience With changes in famiy patterns, more chidren are now iving in smaer famiies, one parent famiies or in disparate famiies. Young chidren in contemporary Irish famiies are experiencing substantiay different parenting trends, not east of which is that many now have the more active invovement of their fathers as we as their mothers. Traditionay, parents tended to concentrate 5

9 Section 2: Historic and Cutura Perspectives more on the physica we-being of their chidren, whereas now they are increasingy concerned with their chidren s hoistic deveopment, incuding their cognitive, emotiona and socia deveopment. Widespread dissemination of research on chid deveopment in popuar and accessibe media formats, such as teevision programmes and sef-hep books on chid deveopment and parenting, indicate interest among the popuation on such issues. Such a media profie for chid deveopment aso suggests an increased awareness among parents of the importance of this stage of ife, and of the importance of supporting chidren s optima deveopment. However, there is aso the possibiity that such media wi exert pressure on parents in suggesting that parenting is a compicated and fraught occupation, with the margins for error being frighteningy wide, and the possibiities for success intimidatingy narrow. In fact, parents get it right even in difficut circumstances Impact of socio-economic change Whie there is greater sensitivity to chidren s needs in the hoistic sense, there are depeted resources, notaby time, within famiies and communities to meet them. Many aspects of the socio-economic context, incuding the organization of work and work/ife baance, are not chid friendy. House prices have risen enormousy and consequenty, the difficuty in finding affordabe housing in centra parts of cities such as Dubin has meant that many peope, particuary young coupes, have had to move out into the surrounding counties. The road and rai infrastructure is unabe to meet the new demand and many peope have had to succumb to engthy hours of commuting. Stress and tiredness caused by parents commuting and work is ikey to put pressure on chidren s quaity of ife within their famiies. There is an eement of irony in the fact that whie chidren are experiencing more environments in their day-to-day ives in comparison to chidren even thirty years ago, we now find it necessary to pan for chidren s access to, in particuar, the outdoor environment. Parenta and adut concern for the chid s safety and security means that the range of paces in which chidren can pay has shrunk, particuary in urban areas. Traffic voumes, deveopment of green spaces and fear for chidren being out and about without adut supervision contributes to a contraction of freedom for chidren. Additionay, it woud appear that chidren are spending increasing time in front of computers and teevisions with consequent heath risks, incuding diminished outdoor pay, physica inactivity and obesity. It is to be hoped that the impementation of the Nationa Pay Poicy (Nationa Chidren s Office [NCO], 2004) wi expand pay opportunities in ways which are compatibe with parenta and caregiving aduts sense of security, and are aso attractive to chidren Empoyment and chidcare Whie unempoyment was endemic during most of the 1980s, Ireand has experienced increasingy high eves of empoyment over the past ten years or so. Empoyment growth and a greater demand for abour, couped with the need for dua income househods to meet the cost of housing, impacted on femae work force participation rates. Mothers empoyment participation rates in Ireand are comparativey high. Because of reativey short eave entitements after the birth of a chid, more mothers of young chidren are in empoyment in Ireand than in other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Deveopment (OECD) countries. The obvious consequence of these circumstances is that more chidren are now being cared for outside the home than heretofore, despite continuing shortages of provision. Much of the increase in suppy has occurred in the private commercia sector where costs to parents are among the highest in Europe. Substantia percentages of mothers working fu-time and part-time use no paid chidcare at a, indicating a reiance on informa provision provided by famiy or friends. There is very imited information on the nature and quaity of the many and varied forms of chidcare and pre-schoo provision for chidren who attend out-of-home settings. 2.4 Chidren s rights A discourse which has gained momentum here in Ireand in recent years concerns chidren s rights. In reviewing the issue, the CECDE has found no discernibe debate on chidren s rights prior to the 1970s. 6

10 Evidence and Perspectives Legisative context However, the egisative context can be traced back to the 1908 Chidren s Act (Hayes, 2002:39), which remained the dominant piece of egisation concerning chidren in Ireand for amost the entire century. In the 1908 Act, the chid was deemed to have a right to care and protection, but not to iberty before the aw. This particuar view, in which chidren can ca on the State for care and protection but not for vindication of their rights as individua citizens, was further entrenched in Artices 41 and 42.5 of the Constitution of 1937 (Government of Ireand, 1937). This remains the defining position of State invovement in chidren s ives today, notwithstanding the ratification by the Government in 1992 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Chid (UNCRC) (UN, 1989). State invovement in provision for chidren outside of the primary schoo system focuses, by and arge, on chidren at risk from disadvantaged or other circumstances, and on chidren with specia needs arising from a disabiity. The growing momentum and discourse around the chid as an individua citizen, with rights associated with that citizenship, may we in time change the nature of the chid/state reationship Impications for ECCE provision There are severa impications emanating from this position, but just one wi be considered here; that of the young chid s right to educationa provision. To be meaningfu, ife-ong earning must be conceptuaised on a continuum which begins at birth. There are good reasons, based on the knowedge we now have on the efficacy of eary education and the magnitude of young chidren s potentia for earning, for making provision for chidren from birth. However, a more fundamenta argument reates to the young chid s right to education in the same way that oder chidren are entited to educationa provision. This position is underpinned by the UNCRC (UN, 1989). 2.5 Care and education Provision for young chidren in Ireand has been fragmented and many of the faut ines can be traced to the historica understanding of care and education as being separate forms of provision. It is not difficut to see how this fracture deveoped historicay here in Ireand Home and schoo The nationa schoo system was estabished in 1831 and there were enough infants (3-5 year ods) in the system by 1872 to warrant a specific infant programme. Figures from the mid-1940s indicate that by then, over 48,000 chidren between the ages of three and five were in the system. These figures represent substantia numbers of young chidren in schoo. It is possibe that this indicates that parents paced a high vaue on their chidren s education and may expain why the nationa or primary schoo system here in Ireand has, since its inception, been regarded as concerned excusivey with education. Throughout the period referred to above, chidren were cared for at home up unti the point at which they began to attend schoo. These two contexts of care and education were quite different, and that difference seems to have been transated to mean mutuay excusive. Whie there is very itte documented evidence about the care of young chidren at home, it appears that care was primariy the responsibiity of the mother. Famiies were arge and oder sibings were invoved in ooking after younger chidren. Whie there were differences in urban and rura contexts, the extended famiy, particuary grandmothers, who often ived in the famiy home, were invoved. Home and schoo were the two contexts in which chidren spent time so, even before the concepts were considered, it is possibe to see the genesis of our traditiona conceptuaisation of care as what happens up to the age of three or so, and education as what happens after that Poicy and impementation At programme eve, the view that chidcare and eary education are two separate but reated issues sti prevais. Key poicy documents from the three main government departments invoved in supporting provision of ECCE dispay consensus on the inseparabe nature of care and education (DES, 1999a; Department of Justice, Equaity and Law 7

11 Section 2: Historic and Cutura Perspectives Reform [DJELR], 1999; DHC, 2000), but programme impementation has so far not refected this position. State action is being driven by different agendas chidcare poicy by the need to expand provision to meet the chidcare needs of working parents and eary education poicy by recognition of the importance of positive eary years experiences, especiay for chidren experiencing disadvantage and those with specia needs. However, the beginnings of a significant shift in this pattern are evident and the emergence of a distinct ECCE sector is becoming apparent Co-ordination and integration The instigation of coherent co-ordinating structures, incuding the Nationa Coordinating Chidcare Committee (NCCC), the County Chidcare Committees (CCCs), the CECDE and the NCO, represent important miestones. To a greater or esser degree, each has a remit for both chidcare and eary education. For exampe, in the case of the CECDE, this remit incudes the deveopment of an overarching NQF/ECCE. Furthermore, poicy initiatives in specific areas are beginning to take effect; greater standardisation in staff training and quaifications is emerging, and curricuar deveopments are eading to greater integration of chidcare and eary education. Under the provisions of the Equa Opportunities Chidcare Programme (EOCP), funding was provided to the Nationa Vountary Chidcare Organisations (NVCOs) 3 to form an umbrea group to enhance communication and co-ordination between the groups invoved. Networks of providers have been estabished, such as the Border Counties Chidcare Network (BCCN) and more ocaised networks under the auspices of CCCs. A High Leve Working Group has been convened by the NCO, and the CECDE has a Consutative Committee which is representative of stakehoders in eary chidhood provision. Increasing the eve of integration and coordination of poicy, egisation and provision for young chidren is now widey accepted as necessary to progress. However, the 3 This group has been reconstituted as the Nationa Vountary Chidcare Coaborative (NVCC). consoidation of a discrete ECCE sector is unikey to be reaised unti there is better coordination at inter-departmenta eve, to the point where the DJELR, DHC and the DES impement a common programmatic approach to the care and education of young chidren. The White Paper on Eary Chidhood Education (DES, 1999a) has aready suggested the way forward in this regard in proposing the estabishment of the ECEA as a structura expression of such a common approach. 2.6 Curricuar context Eary years curricua are currenty the focus of much attention with the pubication of the consutation document, Towards a Framework for Eary Learning (Nationa Counci for Curricuum and Assessment [NCCA], 2004). Whie this is the first time that Ireand is to have a nationa curricuar framework for the birth to six age group, the history of State curricuar provision for young chidren specificay those in the infant casses (3-6) in primary schoos stretches back over a century Revised Programme, 1900 One of the most remarkabe stages in that history was the Revised Programme of 1900 (Commissioners of Nationa Education in Ireand, 1901), though this is a somewhat arbitrary starting point. Even before this time, the phiosophies of Rousseau, Froebe, Pestaozzi and Dewey had infuenced individuas who put such theories into practice here. In fact, one might ocate the provenance of the concept of chid-centred practice with these theorists. The Revised Programme is strikingy famiiar to the modern reader. It was infuenced by Frobeian principes and incorporated heuristic approaches to teaching and earning. It advocated deveopment from within rather than mouding from without, promoted the integration of subject areas and emphasised the environment as a context for the chid s earning. The Revised Programme advocated teaching content in an integrated manner, breaking with the tradition at that time of compartmentaising knowedge. Unfortunatey, however, the necessary finances for equipment, training and 8

12 Evidence and Perspectives impementation were never put in pace. Whie the Revised Programme ed to improvements in the dire state of infant education, the Dae Report (Dae, 1904) sti found that this was one of the weakest eements of the system. Then, as now, no matter how good the curricuum, it is dependent for effectiveness on resourcing, training and investment and 1948 curricuar change A very different approach was taken in the curricuum introduced in 1922 foowing the foundation of the Irish Free State (Nationa Programme Conference, 1922). This approach moved the focus off the young chid onto curricuum content, specificay the Irish anguage, which was to be re-estabished as part of the socio-poitica transformation of Ireand foowing independence. The curricuar changes introduced meant that the restoration of the Irish anguage became the primary aim of infant education. Foowing some years of impementation of this programme, teachers expressed deep reservations about its effect, stating that it inhibited the chid inteectuay, repressed the natura urge for sef-expression and ed to some chidren being mentay and physicay damaged. This programme was repaced by the Revised Programme for Infants (Department of Education [DoE], 1948) in 1948, which returned to the vaues and direction espoused by the 1900 Revised Programme. However, due to continuing requirements regarding the teaching of Irish, it proved difficut to impement the phiosophy of this programme New Curricuum, 1971 Major curricuar change occurred in 1971 with the introduction of the New Curricuum (DoE, 1971). Pay was an integra part of this curricuum which was designed to cater for the fu and harmonious deveopment of each chid, with an inherent fexibiity to adapt to the needs of chidren of varying abiities and cutura backgrounds. However, the economic recession of the 1970s meant that the comprehensive network of supports for teachers which was envisaged did not materiaise. Cass size remained very arge during the period foowing the introduction of the New Curricuum. Spending on education increased over the foowing decades, and whie cass size remained an issue at this time, the number of teaching posts in the system increased substantiay. This reates to the introduction of schemes such as Home/Schoo/Community Liaison (HSCL) and the expansion of Specia Needs provision Revised Curricuum, 1999 The most recent curricuar change occurred in 1999 with the introduction of a Revised Curricuum for Primary Schoos. The 1999 Revised Curricuum (DES, 1999b) is designed to nurture chidren in a dimensions of their ives. In-service training is ongoing for teachers and structures (e.g. the Primary Curricuum Support Programme [PCSP] and the Schoo Deveopment Panning Service [SDPS]) have been put in pace to support its ro-out into schoos. A cose study of these consecutive curricua iustrates the evoving understandings of concepts such as chidcentred and hoistic education in Ireand. 2.7 Deveopments in provision One of the consequences of the reative economic prosperity of the 1960s was to increase interest and focus on education. From around this period, education became a new catayst for socia mobiity, possiby on account of the introduction of free secondary education. Parents became increasingy anxious that their chidren s future opportunities woud be enhanced through education. Ireand s increased invovement with internationa organisations such as the United Nations Educationa, Scientific and Cutura Office (UNESCO), the OECD and the UN, aied with the aspiration to become a member of the EEC, contributed to a essening of the insuarity which had been a feature of the previous period. There was a shift in focus from socia expenditure in reation to education and chidren to one of investment in the individua, the economy and society Specia Education The first remedia teachers were introduced into schoos during this period, the 1960s, and the Commission of Inquiry on Menta Handicap (Commission of Inquiry on Menta 9

13 Section 2: Historic and Cutura Perspectives Handicap, 1965) raised awareness of the issue of specia education. This ed to the beginnings of integration of chidren with specia needs into mainstream schoos in the foowing decade. Most of the specia schoos in existence today were estabished in the 1960s and the 1970s. The roots of this deveopment ay in the setting up of community and parent advocacy groups in the preceding decade. The Vountary Agencies invoved in service deivery for chidren with specia needs grew out of those eary advocacy groups. In the nineteenth century, in the absence of any State provision, reigious orders had estabished schoos for chidren who were deaf and bind. These schoos were the very first to be designated as specia schoos and were the basis for the deveopment of the system Pre-schoo provision The eary enroment of chidren in primary schoos in the first haf of the twentieth century and the ow number of mothers in the workforce resuted in a ow priority for preschoo education. Whie there were some exampes of pre-schoo provision and services prior to the 1960s, socia change and individua effort brought about acceerated changes from that time. Additionay, from the ate 1960s, the socia risk mode of provision for young chidren which underpinned the practice of pacing chidren in institutiona care was repaced by a more deveopmenta view. This period coincided with the arriva of Barnardos in Ireand, the founding of the Irish Pre-schoo Paygroups Association (IPPA), the estabishment of the first Naíonraí and an expansion in Montessori training opportunities. As with provision for chidren with specia needs, the current andscape of eary chidhood pre-schoo provision began to take shape at that time, in the absence of State invovement. The Rutand St. Pre-schoo Project (Hoand, 1979) was estabished in 1969 as an eary intervention programme for chidren in a disadvantaged area of inner city Dubin. This remained the State s ony pre-schoo project unti the Eary Start pre-schoos were estabished in the mid 1990s in some designated disadvantaged schoos Chidcare poicy deveopment A number of chid advocacy groups were estabished in the 1970s and, foowing pressure from such groups, a number of Committees were convened over the first haf of the next decade to examine the roe and need for chidcare faciities outside the home 4. Unfortunatey, there was very itte tangibe response to this wave of reports. It may we be that attitudes among the popuation as a whoe did not support movement on this issue. As recenty as 1972, the Report on the Status of Women (Commission on the Status of Women, 1972) urged mothers to stay at home with their chid unti the age of three, and ony return to work if they had strong reasons to do so. That said, the report aso caed for a nationa infrastructure for chidcare to faciitate working women, but that recommendation had itte effect either. Nonetheess, these decades witnessed a change in attitude, indicated by the number of cas for State provided chidcare that woud have been unthinkabe in the earier haf of the century. The perception that mothers were no onger the ony carers of their chid, and that out-of-home chidcare was needed, now entered the zeitgeist Parenta invovement In schoos, the attitude to parenta invovement has changed enormousy, even since the introduction of the New Curricuum in One of the probems identified with the impementation of the curricuar changes then was that ack of information and communication with parents ed to confusion about the new principes and ideoogies underpinning the curricuum. However, the HSCL scheme, estabished in 1990 in designated disadvantaged schoos, refected a growing emphasis and recognition of the importance of parenta invovement to the success of chidren in schoo. Other exampes of the growth of awareness of the importance of incuding parents in their chidren s education was the incusion of parents on Boards of Management since 1975, and the estabishment of schoos to cater for various 4 The Task Force on Chid Care Services (Department of Heath, 1980) The Working Party on Chidcare Faciities for Working Parents (Department of Labour, 1983) The Committee on Minimum Lega Requirements and Standards for Day Care Services (Department of Heath, 1985) 10

14 Evidence and Perspectives interests, such as Gaescoieanna (Irishmedium schoos) and non-, inter-, and mutidenominationa schoos under the auspices of parent groups. Whie there is itte historica documentary evidence avaiabe on the deveopment of parenta invovement in services outside the schoo system, it appears that Community Paygroups, in certain instances, grew from the work of oca parent groups. The contemporary situation is much cearer. A recent nationa review of poicy, practice and research pertaining to quaity in ECCE found consensus across a groups on the issue of parenta invovement. Parenta invovement is considered a key and essentia indicator of a quaity service by a provider groups engaged in the promotion of quaity in ECCE (CECDE, 2004a). 2.8 Diversity The rate of change between the 1960s and the end of the 1980s acceerated dramaticay in the 1990s with the advent of the economic boom, a phenomenon quite new to Ireand. The environment in which chidren born since 1990 are growing up appears very different to anything we have experienced before. Much of the materia avaiabe on the ives of chidren within the famiy in Ireand in the past consists of poarised descriptions and, as such, are typica of the range of perspectives found on the famiy from this period. It is cear that there was no unified, consistent or uniform experience of chidhood in Ireand in the past century. Such evidence as is avaiabe indicates that, for exampe, the chidren of the Traveing community, chidren with disabiities, chidren from different socioeconomic backgrounds or chidren from differenty configured famiies had very different experiences of ife here. This is not a judgement on whether those chidhoods were happy or not, but rather to refect that chidhood was never without its compications. There was, and is, no singe Irish chidhood Responses to difference Whie the experience of chidhood during the past century in Ireand was not the same for a chidren, there was no discourse evident around the concept of diversity as we now engage in it. Looking back, indeed, the impression is of a society which thought of itsef as homogenous, or at east acquiesced in the Church/State consensus which projected a society based on the sanctity of the nucear famiy united in faith. Those who did not meet the criteria and who deviated from the acceptabe mode of the famiy as a married coupe with chidren were often treated harshy. Reference has aready been made to the many chidren who ended up in institutiona care, predominanty chidren from disadvantaged backgrounds or from famiies in disadvantaged circumstances. Recent years have exposed the scanda of young women confined in the Magdaene aundries because of giving birth outside marriage or for behaviour deemed to be at odds with the prevaiing orthodox moraity. Further to this was the trafficking and export of babies of unmarried mothers to the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. The Traveing community, for the most part, seem to have been shunned. It seems obvious from even a cursory examination that Irish society was not as homogenous as Church and State woud have wanted and sanctions were in pace to contro those who did not conform Socio-cutura change Ireand graduay moved away from the isoationism which characterised the period up to the 1950s, but it has ony been since the beginning of the 1990s that the growing diversity of the socio-cutura andscape in Ireand has impacted on our consciousness as a nation. We now have a mutipicity of famiy modes: two parents, both working; singeparent headed famiies; remarried coupes/parents; adoptive and other famiies. Indeed, the famiy, based on a division in parenta roes with the father as breadwinner and the mother as a fu time housewife caring for the chidren, is no onger the dominant mode in Irish society. Evoving expectations of fathers invovement with their chidren, aong with increasing numbers of mothers in the workforce and more singeparent famiies, have changed the profie of famiy ife in Ireand; there has been an increase in smaer famiies and in the diversity of famiy structures. 11

15 Section 2: Historic and Cutura Perspectives Disadvantage and specia needs Despite the growth in the economy, many Irish famiies experience poverty. The inequaity in circumstances that exists between Irish famiies is marked with an acceerating inequaity of incomes between the owest income groups and the highest. Those most affected incude chidren, eary schoo eavers, one parents, unempoyed peope, Traveers, ethnic minorities, refugees and asyum-seekers, oder peope iving aone in areas of urban and rura disadvantage, peope with disabiities and sma farmers. Despite improvements in recent years, Ireand sti has one of the highest rates of chid poverty in the European Union. In a society which is proud of its educationa system, it is sti an uncomfortabe fact that chidren from working cass backgrounds are at higher risk of educationa disadvantage. Consequenty, they are much more ikey to eave schoo without quaifications and much ess ikey to obtain third eve quaifications. Chidren from the Traveer community experience extreme poverty and educationa disadvantage. Infant mortaity is twice the nationa average and athough arge numbers of Traveer chidren attend primary schoo at any given time, very few transfer to secondary schoos, fewer sti compete the Leaving Certificate and a tiny number attend third-eve coege. The revised Nationa Anti Poverty Strategy (NAPS), Buiding an Incusive Society (Department of Socia, Community and Famiy Affairs [DSCFA], 2002) gives specific consideration to the aforementioned vunerabe groups and incudes a number of commitments to combating educationa disadvantage. There have been numerous initiatives by the DES in schoos to combat educationa disadvantage and a major review of these is in train. The EOCP, whie not focused primariy on the chidren, is a very substantia State investment in the infrastructure of ECCE provision in disadvantaged areas. Other initiatives originating from various government departments aso target socioeconomic disadvantage. However, in terms of provision for chidren with specia needs, there is a ack of a comprehensive, State funded system for chidren with specia needs and their famiies. The current system of provision is dependent on the contribution of the Vountary Agencies, but there is no nationay articuated framework for the reationship between the Vountary Agencies and State provision. Negotiating the system is currenty difficut and chaenging for parents seeking to access services for their young chidren Cutura diversity Ireand has experienced growing racia and ethnic heterogeneity over the ast decade. The number of appications for asyum in Ireand rose substantiay in the years from 1992 to 2001, but this appears to have faen dramaticay in recent years. It is estimated that in the year 2000, in excess of 5,000 asyum-seeking chidren arrived in Ireand, and we must be concerned as to how their needs are being met. In January 2003, the Supreme Court rued that the non-nationa parents of an Irish citizen chid coud be deported, but the judgment aso acknowedged that the rights of the Irish citizen chid under the Constitution must be given consideration, and the rights of the chid s parents and sibings must be respected. It is not yet cear what impact the decision wi have on the future of this group of Irish chidren. Another recent phenomenon has been the adoption into Irish famiies of chidren born in countries such as Romania, Russia and China. This increasing cutura diversity has severey tested the capacity of Irish society and its services to accept or integrate minority groups, as society s reationship with Traveers has demonstrated over previous decades. Nonetheess there have been many exampes of efforts to combat racism and promote anti-bias education for chidren. The best known exampe is probaby the Éist project (Murray and O Doherty, 2001). Antibias programmes address not ony racism, but a forms of discrimination. They shoud be in pace in a settings, and not just in settings which incude chidren from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. 2.9 Language Our history of biinguaism adds another dimension to the consideration of diversity here, given the specia position of the Irish anguage in Irish aw. Language is generay the primary means of communication within 12

16 Evidence and Perspectives any cuture, and in the ight of the growing cutura diversity of our society, merits attention Irish anguage The effort made in the eary days after the foundation of the State to use young chidren as the conduit through which Irish woud be re-estabished as the primary anguage of the peope has aready been described. Whie the approach was unsuccessfu, the originators of the scheme were correct in identifying the chid s eary years as an optima time for introducing second anguage earning. In the ate 1960s, a number of Naíonraí groups were estabished with the support of Comhdhái Náisiúnta na Gaeige and Conradh na Gaeige. Naíonra groups are simiar to other paygroups but, in addition, the aduts speak Irish excusivey. Chidren are free to converse in either Engish or Irish. In 1973, the organisers formed a vountary organisation Na Naíonraí Gaeacha under the auspices of Conradh na Gaeige. An Comhchoiste Réamhscoaíochta Teo (now renamed Forbairt Naíonraí Teo.) was then set up and is a joint committee of Na Naíonraí Gaeacha and Bord na Gaeige in support of preschooing through Irish. Over the past thirty years or so, the number of Gaescoieanna outside the Gaetacht has grown steadiy, with increasing numbers of chidren receiving their education through Irish Second anguage provision Increasingy, schoos and ECCE services incude chidren whose first anguage is neither Engish nor Irish. Indeed, the DES makes some provision for anguage support for foreign nationa chidren in schoos. There is evidence that chidren earning a second anguage need support for their first anguage. The chid s faciity with his first anguage impacts on his deveopment of the second anguage and on a aspects of his deveopment. This has impications for the provision of services for young chidren who are at a crucia stage in anguage deveopment. It is possibe that this wi require the presence of aduts in settings for young chidren who are competent in the chid s first anguage. This has not been addressed to any great degree in service provision here in Ireand. Equay, it must be recognised that Sign/Lámh is, in many cases, the first anguage of chidren who are deaf. We must be concerned, aso, that the chid with serious anguage impairment is enabed to deveop augmentative aternative forms of communication. Not ony is anguage an important part of our abiity to function in society, it is aso an expression of identity. The history of support for the Irish anguage here is evidence of our appreciation of the power of anguage in this regard. It behoves us, given the engths to which Ireand has gone to preserve and promote our own anguage, to offer support to those who wish to preserve their anguage even as they earn Engish Pay Pay is an activity very cosey associated with chidhood, and it is inconceivabe to review constructions of chidhood in Ireand without attending to chidren s pay. However, whie in recent years there has been substantia attention paid to the pace of pay in the chid s earning and deveopment, there is very itte information on how chidren have payed in the past, at east here in Ireand. A number of coections of street rhymes and games capture the vivacity and carefree nature of chidren in Dubin in the midde part of the century and they indicate the time afforded to chidren for pay and recreation. Other studies in rura areas indicated that young chidren were often given make-beieve tasks in preparation for future work either in the house or on the farm. Observers of famiy chidcare practices during the period when famiies became smaer and the presence of extended famiy became rarer, tend to indicate that chidren spent ong periods aone (Arensberg and Kimba, 1940; Scheper- Hughes, 1979). These are isoated observations and must be treated with caution, but as pay is an important socia activity for chidren, one wonders what impact such conditions woud have had? On the other hand, severa memoirs make mention of payfu exchanges between parents and chidren (Wash, 1995; Kerrigan, 1998). The argest body of information on pay from most of the past century reates to its pace in curricua. However, whie this tes us how pay was envisaged as supporting the chid s 13

17 Section 2: Historic and Cutura Perspectives deveopment and the types of contexts and equipment to be provided, it tes very itte of the chid s actua experience. So there is very itte that can be said of the changing experiences of the chid at pay in Ireand over the time period being considered here. Currenty, there is no argument here as to the pace of pay in chidren s ives. Many poicy documents throughout the 1990s and before have made the case for pay as one of the most important contexts in which the chid wi earn and deveop Concusion This has been a brief overview of some of the strands of change which have impacted on the way in which chidren ive their ives in Ireand. We have no reason to suppose that chidren s ives wi be any ess subject to changing circumstances in the future, any more than we can suppose that society at arge wi become static. We have choices to make on the basis of the certainty of change, choices about how we can vaue chidhood and support chidren. Whie we can certainy ook back and recognize that society faied chidren in many cases, it woud be a mistake to take no more than that from the essons of experience. Rather, it shoud strengthen the resove of everyone invoved in ECCE or in advocacy for chidren to secure their fu citizenship and rights Impications for the NQF/ECCE This discussion has suggested impications for the CECDE in our deveopment of the NQF/ECCE. The avaiabiity of resources, training and investment has aways been crucia to the successfu impementation of curricuar change in Ireand, and wi remain so. 2 Maintaining a high profie for the rights and needs of chidren and ensuring their visibiity in the wider society is necessary for their we-being and for the quaity of provision. 3 Supporting parents towards work/ife baance and in parenting practices enhances the chid s ife. 4 Deveoping and maintaining structures which enhance communication and coordination within the ECCE sector, both at service and poicy eve, wi benefit provision. 5 Enhancing reationships between service providers and parents benefits the chid. 6 Chidren and the wider society need support in order to promote the deveopment of positive attitudes to diversity and equaity. 7 The chid s first anguage must be supported whie additiona anguages are being earned. 8 There is a need for research to document how chidren pay in their everyday ives in order to record the presence of chidren in our society. 14

18 Section 3 Thematic Perspective on the Learning and Deveoping Chid 3.1 Introduction As outined in the Introduction, seven themes emerged from the anaysis of the chiddeveopment sections of the Review Document. The enormous amount of information contained in the extensive iterature review has been considered very cosey. Foowing intensive anaysis, the materia has been condensed into the seven thematic areas presented in this Section. These themes are not intended as stand aone eements, but must be considered together. Each theme interacts with and compements the others and the order in which they are presented is not intended as a hierarchy. Certain specific points of research from the Review Document are used to iustrate various points throughout the chapter. These are exampes ony and are not necessariy the most important points to emerge from the research; they are incuded because of their appropriateness for the particuar theme under discussion. The discussion revoves around chidren from birth to six years of age, but recognises that there are differences in approach for specific age groups in that range. Whie it was not possibe to go into detai about each age sub-group, some mention is made of the particuar approaches necessary for very young chidren. Because the themes centre on fundamenta principes for practice, they are intended as incusive of a settings and age groups. The discussion which foows considers the CECDE perspective on the context for quaity practice with young chidren. Foowing the discussion of each theme, the impications for the NQF/ECCE are incuded under the headings of Defining, Assessing and Supporting Quaity. 15

19 Section 3: Thematic Perspective on the Learning and Deveoping Chid 3.2 Chid-centred earning and deveopment Taking a chid-centred approach to a chid s deveopment and earning requires that the aduts supporting the chid focus on the chid s unique individuaity as the starting point for earning. This ensures that the chid is at the centre of the endeavour rather than a body of knowedge that she must absorb. The chid is an active agent in her own earning and deveopment. She has, among other things, her own interests, strengths, needs, earning dispositions and potentia. These co-exist with her cutura identity, gender, reationships, competencies and abiities. This compexity, of course, is much more than the sum of its parts. Chidhood is a distinct and vauabe time during which this unique individuaity must be acknowedged and appreciated, supported, treasured and nurtured towards fufiment and joy through reationships with the significant aduts in her ife. A recognition of the chid s rights provides a context for this dynamic process which coud be supported by rights-based egisation and poicy. The chid wi benefit from reciproca communication with significant aduts who gain knowedge and understanding of her ife through that communication. Recognising that the chid has a distinct voice in our society, aied with the recognition of the chid s active agency in ife, brings an acknowedgement of the chid s right to a sense of contro over outcomes in her ife at an age appropriate eve. For young chidren especiay, it is the significant aduts in the environment who wi ensure she becomes aware of her own sense of sef-reiance, independence and contro. This emphasises the importance of high quaity, dynamic and reciproca interactions between the chid and the adut. The activities and opportunities for pay and discovery made avaiabe to the chid through quaity services and supports must foster the chid s sense of purpose and give meaning to her engagement with the word. Cruciay, the chid must be aowed to exercise choice as a requisite part of active participation. A chid-centred approach based on knowedge and understanding of the chid s ife must recognise aso that the circumstances in which a chid ives her ife are not aways optimay conducive to her harmonious deveopment. A chid iving in circumstances of disadvantage, experiencing marginaisation on racia, ethnic or cutura grounds, or because of having specia needs arising from a disabiity, has the same rights to quaity experiences as her peers. It is the chid who must benefit directy from interventions, and a interventions invoving chidren must primariy focus on chid outcomes which foow from the chid s needs. Too often, it is the chid s ife which is used as a site of intervention in fufiing other obigations, such as reeasing parents from chidcare commitments to participate in the abour force. The chid s we-being must be the primary concern, and the chid s ife must be respected. Perhaps that is the essence of a chid-centred approach, that the chid and chidhood are afforded respect and dignity by parents, significant aduts, the State and society. Current research knowedge provides usefu insights in the impementation of a chidcentred approach. For exampe, from a physica point of view, the chid needs baanced and heathy nutrition, but chidren iving in poverty are most at risk of deficient diets. This finding is of particuar concern in Ireand, which has one of the highest rates of chid poverty in the EU. In terms of preventative heath care, the chid s heath and we-being is supported in the crucia deveopmenta years by consistent, seamess, muti-discipinary service provision in the context of knowedge of the chid s individua needs and circumstances. Physica activity is a key and necessary eement in a chid s deveopment and is strongy associated with parenta modeing, and faciities and attitudes in chidcare centres, pre-schoos, schoos and other out-of-home settings. Athough deveopmenta pathways have been mapped, and provide a usefu paradigm, it must be recognised that chidren have individua deveopmenta trajectories and abiities infuenced, but not determined, by, for exampe, gender and abiities. As the young chid grows and deveops sociay and emotionay, caregivers wi need to recognise the web of eements which make up her individua profie. Emotiona reguation, i.e. the abiity to exercise contro over one s emotions, internay and externay, in accompishing one s goas, and the abiity to recognise and abe emotions in onesef and in others, is a facet of the chid s deveopment. 16

20 Evidence and Perspectives Other aspects which require knowedge geaned from research incude the chid s coping skis, sense of autonomy, attachment reationships (particuary with parents), sefesteem, sef-confidence, sef-identity and prosocia behaviours. Currenty, three major modes of chidren s earning and cognitive deveopment provide a theoretica basis for practice Piagetian constructivist theory, Vygotskian sociocutura interactive theory and information processing theory. Within this theoretica framework, research provides insights on the buiding bocks of active earning incuding curiosity, exporation and novety seeking, mastery motivation and goa persistence, metacognition, probem soving and the inter-reationship between anguage and thinking. Theory on the mora deveopment of the chid is an emerging area and one in which there is noteworthy research interest here in Ireand. The existing body of knowedge can further our understanding of the chid s growth and deveopment through exporations of moraity as emotion, as conformity to rue and authority, as conforming to one s own beief system and sense of sef, and the ways in which the chid s deveoping mora sense functions in overa deveopment. In the same way that theories of mora deveopment are in an eary stage of deveopment, so too is the case with research on the chid s emerging spiritua ife. Nonetheess, there are insights avaiabe into spirituaity as a human capacity and an integra eement of overa deveopment Impications for the NQF/ECCE Defining quaity: Quaity service provision is based on the chid s individua profie of strengths and needs. The chid is an active agent in her earning and deveopment and is given the opportunity to exercise choice and autonomy. Caregivers and significant aduts have an understanding and knowedge of current research and theory of chid deveopment. Caregivers and significant aduts understand the circumstances of the chid s ife and have the expertise to understand and address the impact of these circumstances. The chid has the right to quaity service provision which prioritises her interests and we-being. Assessing quaity: The chid s opinion must be sought and incuded, in an age and context appropriate way in the course of evauation and assessment. Supporting quaity: The quaifications and training of practitioners to ensure high eves of understanding of chid deveopment and high eves of professiona expertise, is fundamenta to providing quaity chidcentred services. 3.3 Hoistic earning and deveopment The chid s deveopmenta domains are fundamentay inter-reated, and exert reciproca infuences, each upon the others, towards hoistic deveopment. This is the case within the chid s current deveopmenta stage, and as she is supported by nondirective, responsive aduts to progress to the next deveopmenta stage on the basis of her previous experience. In order to refect the inter-reatedness of a areas of the chid s earning, the chid must be respected as an active and equa participant in the earning process. This is a prerequisite for the chid to reaise her own potentia through the depoyment of her existing knowedge. Higher-order thinking skis are deveoped through reciproca interaction with the adut, who is chaenging the chid appropriatey. Deveopment of the higher-order thinking skis is highy dependent on the quaity of the interaction with the adut. These higherorder thinking skis, in which the chid integrates existing knowedge and begins to create new meanings and connections, are an expression of the hoistic nature of earning. Curricuum and earning contexts, in responding to the hoistic and compex personaity of the chid, must be chid-centred 17

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