What is Síolta?

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:

  • Full and Part-time Daycare
  • Childminding
  • Sessional services
  • Infant classes in primary schools

Since December 2008, the Early Years Education Policy Unit, in the Department of Education and Skills, has been responsible for the implementation of Síolta.

Core Elements of Síolta

Síolta is comprised of three distinct but interrelated elements: Principles, Standards and Components of Quality. 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.

Tipperary Childcare Committee have carried out training in the ‘Introduction to Síolta’ phase and have availed of two quality assurance programmes run by our colleagues in Early Childhood Ireland and Barnardos.

Further work on Síolta will be carried out by using the new Aistear Síolta Practice Guide as developed by the NCCA.