How is early childhood policy impacting on quality practices in your early years setting?

Participant Information Sheet
My name is Criona Blackburne and I am undertaking this research as part of my doctorate in Early Childhood. My background is in education, firstly as a secondary school teacher, then as an owner/manager of an early years setting and as a tutor/lecturer in early childhood. Most recently I work as an EYS with the AIM team, supporting services to include children with additional needs so they can access and meaningfully participate in their ECCE year.  

Research Title: How effective has the government’s quality agenda been on improving practice in early years settings from the practitioners perspective? This research will focus on the early childhood policies which have emerged as part of the government’s quality agenda with a view to assessing their impact at ground level in improving experiences for young children in these settings. 

You are invited to take part in a survey, which focuses on the impact of ECE policies aimed at enhancing quality within this sector. Whether or not you take part is your choice, if you choose not to participate, you do not have to give a reason and no judgement will be made. If you decide that you do want to take part now, but change your mind later, you can leave the research process at any time.

Before deciding, you need to understand why this research is being undertaken, and what it would involve for you. Please take the time to read the following information carefully.

If you agree to participate in further parts of this study, you will be asked to sign a consent form. You will be provided with a copy of the consent form and information sheet for your records. However, in relation to the online survey or the online forum groups, participation will be taken as consent.

As participation is voluntary and the identity of participants will be protected at all times, the researcher perceives no risks. Participation should be of benefit to the participants as it will provide a forum to discuss the impact of contemporary early childhood policies on their daily practice.  The researcher aspires that this research could inform future policy development and implementation.

All information you provide will be used only for the purpose of this research and your confidentiality will be respected at all times, unless upholding this confidentiality results in the researcher contravening legal or regulatory requirements. In particular the researcher still has obligations under the Children First Act (2015) to ensure that all children’s wellbeing and protection is not deemed at risk.

All information will be stored safely in keeping with the Data Protection Act (2017) and the more recent GDPR (2018) regulations. The computer being used to gather and save the information has been encrypted. Your identity will not be revealed as anonymity will be respected throughout the process.

Survey Monkey will be used as the method of distributing an online survey.  This was chosen as it provides protection for data.  The information gathered through Survey Monkey is password protected, therefore I am the only person who will have access to the data gathered. Once the research is completed, Survey Monkey locks the account from anybody logging in and the data is destroyed.

Ethical approval has been sought and received from the Ethics review committee at the University of Sheffield.

Further information: Should you require further information you may contact me by e-mail at crionablackburne@hotmail.com or by telephone (086) 3498581. You may also contact my supervisor Professor Elizabeth Wood at e.a.wood@sheffield.ac.uk.

How long have you worked in early childhood care and education?

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* 1. How long have you worked in early childhood care and education?

What is the highest level of qualification you have achieved in early childhood education and care?

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* 2. What is the highest level of qualification you have achieved in early childhood education and care?

What is your current role in early childhood practice?

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* 3. What is your current role in early childhood practice?

What is your chosen pedagogical approach?

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* 4. What is your chosen pedagogical approach?

In 2013 Minister Fitzgerald launched the Quality agenda, which introduced a range of measures to improve quality in the early years sector. Some key policies that have emerged as a consequence of the policy agenda are listed below. Please click the policies with which you are familiar.

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* 5. In 2013 Minister Fitzgerald launched the Quality agenda, which introduced a range of measures to improve quality in the early years sector. Some key policies that have emerged as a consequence of the policy agenda are listed below. Please click the policies with which you are familiar.

  Extremely familiar Very familiar Somewhat familiar Not so familiar Not familiar
Publication of preschool inspection reports
Registration of Early years services
Establishment of Better Start Quality Development Service
Commencement of the Education focused Inspections
Launch of the Access and Inclusion Model
Investment in CPD including Linc, Equality and Diversity Training, Hanen, Lamh, Child Protection etc
Making funding available to provide remuneration for staff attending training.
Introduction of the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016
Childcare Capital Funding Programmes
Provision of increased capitation rates and non-contact time
Increased capitation incentives for employing a room leader with Level 7 qualification or higher in ECCE rooms
Extension of ECCE scheme to allow children to commence their free preschool from 2 years and 8 months until the child starts primary school.
Passing the Children's First Act (2015) and updating Children First Guidelines
Introduction of the Affordable Childcare Scheme
In your view has the overall impact of this Quality agenda improved the quality of practice and provision of early childhood services in Ireland?

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* 6. In your view has the overall impact of this Quality agenda improved the quality of practice and provision of early childhood services in Ireland?

Following on from your familiarity with the key policies which have emerged from the policy agenda, please indicate how significant or insignificant you believe them to be in enhancing quality in your early years setting.

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* 7. Following on from your familiarity with the key policies which have emerged from the policy agenda, please indicate how significant or insignificant you believe them to be in enhancing quality in your early years setting.

  Significantly enhanced Quality Enhanced Quality No impact on improving Quality Reduced Quality Significantly reduced Quality No opinion
Publishing of preschool inspection reports
Registration of early years services
Establishment of Better Start Quality Development Service
Commencement of the Education Focused Inspections
Launch of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)
Investment in CPD including LiNC, Equality and Diversity training, Hanen, Lamh, Child Protection etc.
Allocation of funding to provide remuneration for staff attendance at training
Introduction of the Childcare Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016
Childcare capital funding programme
Provision of increased capitation rates and non-contact time
Increased capitation incentives for employing a room leader with a Level 7 or higher qualification in an ECCE room
Extension of ECCE scheme to allow children to commence their free preschool years at 2 years and 8 months until they start primary school
Passing of the Children First Act (2015) and updating Children First guidelines
Introduction of the Affordable Childcare Scheme
Establishment of TUSLA, as the regulatory inspectorate body for the ECCE sector
In your opinion, what are the key ideas which are supporting the development of quality in the early years sector?

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* 8. In your opinion, what are the key ideas which are supporting the development of quality in the early years sector?

  Very significant in improving quality Significant in improving quality No impact on quality Reduces quality Significantly reduces quality
Planning, documenting and assessing
Continuous professional development
Partnership with parents
Collaborative practice with outside agencies
Aistear and Siolta Practice guide
Inclusion
Child led, Child centred approach
Degree led early childhood sector
Network meetings
What factors do you think are fundamental to enhancing quality in the early years sector?

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* 9. What factors do you think are fundamental to enhancing quality in the early years sector?

In your view which ECE policies have had the most positive impact on your practice and why? Please explain

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* 10. In your view which ECE policies have had the most positive impact on your practice and why? Please explain

Do you have any suggestions for policy that you feel could significantly improve quality in the early years sector?

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* 11. Do you have any suggestions for policy that you feel could significantly improve quality in the early years sector?

If you would like to add any further responses you think are relevant to the overall question on how policy is impacting on practice, please use the space below to comment.

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* 12. If you would like to add any further responses you think are relevant to the overall question on how policy is impacting on practice, please use the space below to comment.

The next part of this research process is to create a closed Facebook forum to allow participants engage in deeper discussions in relation to the impact of recent and emerging policies on quality practices in early years settings. If you would be interested in engaging in this part of the research, please tick yes and include your contact details  in the comment box.

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* 13. The next part of this research process is to create a closed Facebook forum to allow participants engage in deeper discussions in relation to the impact of recent and emerging policies on quality practices in early years settings. If you would be interested in engaging in this part of the research, please tick yes and include your contact details  in the comment box.

Thank you for participating in this survey.  For those of you who are willing to engage in a closed Facebook Forum, participants will be selected on a random basis if the number of volunteers exceed a realistic total. Conditions of agreeing to join the group will apply based on ethical considerations.

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* 14. Thank you for participating in this survey.  For those of you who are willing to engage in a closed Facebook Forum, participants will be selected on a random basis if the number of volunteers exceed a realistic total. Conditions of agreeing to join the group will apply based on ethical considerations.

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