Aistear is the curriculum framework for children from birth to six years in Ireland. It provides information for adults to help them plan for and provide enjoyable and challenging learning experiences, so that all children can grow and develop as competent and confident learners within loving relationships with others. Aistear describes the types of learning (dispositions, values and attitudes, skills, knowledge, and understanding) that are important for children in their early years, and offers ideas and suggestions as to how this learning might be nurtured. The Framework also provides guidelines on supporting children’s learning through partnerships with parents, interactions, play, and assessment.
In supporting children’s early learning and development Aistear
Identifies what and how children should learn, and describes the types of experiences that can support this
Makes connections in children’s learning throughout the early childhood years and as they move from one setting to another
Supports parents as their children’s primary educators during early childhood, and promotes effective partnerships between parents and practitioner
Complements and extends existing curriculums and materials
Informs practice across a range of settings, disciplines and professions, and encourages interdisciplinary work.
Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education, was developed by the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. It was published in 2006, following a three-year developmental process, which involved consultation with more than 50 diverse organisations, representing childcare workers, teachers, parents, policy makers, researchers and other interested parties.
Síolta is designed to define, assess and support the improvement of quality across all aspects of practice in early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings where children aged birth to six years are present. These settings include:
Since December 2008, the Early Years Education Policy Unit, in the Department of Education and Skills, has been responsible for the implementation of Síolta.
The 12 Principles provide the overall vision of the Framework, while the 16 Standards and 75 Components allow for the practical application of this vision across all aspects of ECCE practice. The Components of Quality are further explained by a set of Signposts for Reflection and ‘Think-abouts’ which are intended to support practitioners in early education settings to become aware of and critical of their practice. These core elements of Síolta are set out in detail in each of the Síolta user manuals.
The National Síolta Aistear Initiative has been developed to provide central support and coordination of Síolta and Aistear implementation across the early childhood sector.
The initiative has two strands. The first will focus on Síolta, including the introduction of Síolta awareness raising workshops and the expansion of the Síolta Quality Assurance Programme (QAP).
The second strand relates to Aistear, and will see the development of workshops and coaching to support practitioners to use Aistear in their setting.
Dublin City Childcare Committee’s Síolta Aistear mentors will implement this Initiative through a range of workshop and mentoring supports from Autumn 2017.