Department of Education and Skills (DES) Information Session
In November, Dr Maresa Duignan (Assistant Chief Inspector) and Catherine Cullen (Early Years Inspector) facilitated an information session about the DES inspection process for Donegal Early Educators. There were some really interesting discussions on the night around common elements of good practice that are already happening on the ground here in Donegal. Both Maresa and Catherine provided some clarifying points to think about in relation to how Early Educators can further develop their day to day practice;
- The importance of regular evaluation processes was highlighted for consideration; this includes self/group evaluations and evaluations with the children. In relation to each child’s learning journal, it is important that it builds on the child’s individual self-identity and thus includes progression of the child’s learning and experiences throughout the ECCE year, using a wide range of connected learning stories, to give a robust picture of each child. Sending home learning journals regularly was highlighted as an element of effective practice which facilitates shared learning with parents and also encourages the voice of the parent in the child’s learning journey.
- When thinking about planning and documentation, it is important that the outdoor environment is planned for alongside the indoor environment.
- Early Educators should try to capture the break-through in learning moments when documenting learning, for example when a child figures out how something works.
- The planning cycle was discussed with the key point of consideration being that for Early Educators, it doesn’t matter how you document…it’s what you do with what you’ve documented. Early Educators should think about the use of their ‘moving forwards’ within their observations and using all the rich information that they gather to make sure it is used and not just gathered simply to be considered as evidence of practice.
- Early Educators were encouraged to really reflect and build on their use of open-ended questions and other Pedagogical techniques and strategies such as scaffolding and co-constructing.
- The DES inspection process is built on a strength-based process and good practice is always reaffirmed after the inspection process to ensure that Early Educators are aware of the effective practice in place. Following an inspection, advice may also be provided as a means of continuing to build on Early Educators practice.
- Moving forward, some of the newer areas that will be coming in to focus for the Early Education Sector include STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) as well as the Arts. For more information, please see the link to the STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026. The document was launched by the Department of Education and Skills in November 2017 for all areas of the Irish education sector particularly the Early Education sector.