The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education

Síolta - Introductory handbook

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.

  • All elements of Síolta are interconnected and interrelated, and must not be viewed in isolation from one another. The Principles, Standards and Components of Quality work together to form a coherent definition of quality in ECCE settings, while assessment and supporting mechanisms will also contribute to the achievement and maintenance of the vision of quality articulated in the Principles.
  • Accessibility is a core feature of the Framework. The contents of Síolta have been written in a clear and unambiguous manner to promote widespread understanding and engagement by all users. It has been designed to be easily navigated by all practitioners, through a system of colour-coding and clear instructions for use. Furthermore, it has been translated into Irish to ensure easy application in Irish-medium settings.
  • Síolta is process as opposed to product-focused, and reflection on practice is an integral element of the Framework. This ensures that the emphasis in Síolta is on the ongoing journey of working towards quality practice. The Framework serves as a developmental tool within this process, which further informs and develops practice.
  • Síolta builds upon existing national expertise and experience and serves to accelerate the momentum towards the attainment of quality so clearly in evidence within the ECCE sector. As it is built upon existing national and international policy, practice and research, it provides a reference point for other national and international quality initiatives.
  • Equality is a core characteristic of Síolta, and each Standard has been equality-proofed in line with the Principles.
  • A universal approach is adopted in Síolta towards all children. All children and adults are accorded equal status within the Framework, with an emphasis on the abilities and strengths of each and every child and adult.
  • The process of devising Síolta has been characterised by openness and transparency. This has been underpinned by extensive consultation with all stakeholders, both prior to and during the development process, the results of which are published or readily available.
  • Síolta reflects a positive emphasis on diversity, evident in the concern for the interests of minority groups and the recognition of cultural identity.
  • Síolta is designed to be inclusive and applicable to all children aged from birth to six years in Ireland. It focuses on each and every child's potential to develop and learn in the early years.
  • The Framework acknowledges, values and supports all adults working with children in the early years.
  • Flexibility is an intrinsic feature of Síolta. This ensures that it is applicable and adaptable to a wide variety of situations and contexts, and to a wide variety of individual and team users.

And last, but by no means least, Síolta is challenging. It requires:

  • That we strive to achieve more than minimum standards;
  • Dynamic and ongoing discussion, debate and development whilst at the same time ensuring consolidation and mainstreaming of our positive achievements;
  • That we ensure core values and principles are rigorously upheld whilst embracing the rich diversity of approaches to achieving this;
  • That we develop the professionalism and professional status and identity of those who work with young children, whilst ensuring that none of our existing and invaluable expertise is lost or alienated;
  • That each and every one of us is brave enough to open up our practice to the scrutiny of others in the anticipation that such sharing will yield dividends in terms of support for our own professional development.

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