The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education

Síolta Introductory Handbook


When the Minister for Education and Science launched the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) in October 2002, we began a journey without precedent in Ireland.


The publication of Síolta would not have been possible without the sustained support and positive contributions of a wide range of organisations and individuals. The CECDE would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the continued enthusiasm and commitment of the early childhood care and education (ECCE) community in Ireland.


Guide to Acronyms used in the guidelines.


Welcome to Síolta - The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (NQF). The materials presented in this pack represent the edited work of a wide range of stakeholders in the early childhood care and education (ECCE) sector in Ireland. The creative process, which has resulted in this publication, has spanned three years, 2002 to 2005, and has been both a challenging and rewarding endeavour.

Section 1 - Context for the development of Síolta

The development of Síolta is timely in the Irish context. It marks a milestone in the quest for quality early childhood education provision for our youngest children that has been underway in Ireland in recent years.

Section 2 - The Development Process

The CECDE Programme of Work outlined a three-year work programme based on the objectives and functions of the CECDE (CECDE, 2001). As one of these core objectives, the production of a National Quality Framework for ECCE in Ireland has involved a significant body of research and development work and has, in particular, yielded the production of four specific pieces of research.

Section 3 - Characteristics of Síolta

Síolta has a number of key characteristics, which are of importance in gaining an understanding of how the Framework operates. These characteristics ensure that the vision of the Framework can be realised and have the maximum beneficial outcomes for all ECCE stakeholders.

Section 4 - Assessing Quality

The main rationale for assessment within Síolta is found in the White Paper on Early Childhood Education, Ready to Learn (DES, 1999a). A core principle of this document is the recognition of the fact that the quality of service provision is of critical importance in the lives of young children and their families (DES, 1999a:43).

Section 5 - Supporting Quality

The CECDE has recognised, from the earliest stages of the development of Síolta, that practitioners should receive support in engaging with the Framework in pursuit of quality improvement.

Section 6 - Conclusion

The contents of this handbook have been designed to present a broad overview of the context, process of development and possibilities for future implementation of Síolta - The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education.


Glossary of terms used in the guidelines.

Appendix 1 - Membership of Committees

Guide to members


References for information in the guidelines

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