Search
Close this search box.
ncn_logo

National Childhood Network (NCN)

Síolta

Introduction

What is Síolta?

The National Quality Framework, known as Síolta, is a set of national quality standards for early childhood education. Síolta is a quality assurance programme that enhances the quality of early childhood experiences for children aged from birth to six years. The Department of Education and Skills, the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) developed Síolta in consultation with the early year’s sector.

The Síolta Framework was published in 2006, following a three-year developmental process, which involved consultation with more than fifty diverse organisations. These organisations represented childcare workers, teachers, policy makers, parents, researchers and other interested parties.

Síolta has been designed to define, assess and support the improvement of quality across all areas of practice in early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings where children from birth to six years are present.

These settings include:

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

 

Since December 2008, the Early Years Education Policy Unit (EYEPU) established by the Department of Education and Skills and co-located currently in the Department for Children and Youth Affairs has been responsible for the implementation of Síolta.

Core Elements of Síolta

Síolta encompasses three distinct but interrelated elements: Principles >>, Standards >> and Components of Quality. The twelve Principles provide the overall vision of the framework while the sixteen Standards and seventy-five Components allow for the practical application of this vision across all areas of ECCE practice.

The components of Quality are further explained by a set of Signposts for Reflection and “Think-abouts” that are intended to support practitioners in early childhood education and care 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 manuals.

NCN’s work to support the implementation of Síolta

In 2009, the Early Years Education Policy Unit and the Childcare Directorate requested that NCN formerly Border Counties Childcare Network, engage with other Voluntary Childcare Organisations to pilot the implementation of the Síolta Quality Assurance Programme (QAP) tool and processes.

In providing a comprehensive programme of work to advance the Síolta quality agenda, NCN has provided on-site mentoring support and cluster group training to staff from twelve services willing to participate in the QAP, with two of these services receiving Síolta Validation in 2012, six working towards validation in 2014 and four in 2015. In addition, NCN has devised and delivered a diverse range of training programmes, customised to meet the needs of the sector. These include the NCN’s Síolta Development Programme of Awareness Raising Seminars and Workshops as well as the Curriculum Development and Implementation Programme. These programmes have been delivered to many staff employed in both crèche and sessional pre-school services, coming together in cluster groups, in counties Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Cavan, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

We have also developed and disseminated a broad range of learning materials and publications, devised and delivered both QQI Level 5 and Level 6 training which incorporated Síolta and Aistear, and provided many additional CPD opportunities to build the capacity of the early childhood workforce. Throughout all of this activity, we have continuously blended the Síolta and Aistear Frameworks so that those benefitting from our work will be guided by the content of both frameworks and integrate them into their everyday practice.

Síolta Resources

In exploring this section, Síolta, you will see that under each of the 16 standards we make reference to information resources that will support the achievement of the standard.  Where appropriate, for the ten standards that are included in the Aistear/Siolta Practice Guide, we will link the standard to the resource within the guide.

Ensuring that each child’s rights are met requires that she/he is enabled to exercise choice and to use initiative as an active participant and partner in her/his own development and learning.

standard1

Enriching environments, both indoor and outdoor (including materials and equipment) are well maintained, safe, available, accessible, adaptable, developmentally appropriate, and offer a variety of challenging and stimulating experiences.

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (2004). Towards a Framework for Early Learning – A Consultative Document. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Download PDF

 

Barnardos with NCN formerly BCCN (2015). Spaces to be me in Early Years Services

Spaces to Be Me supports Early Childhood Educators with the ideas, knowledge and resources needed to provide quality environments for the children with whom they work. The book looks at the impact of environments on children.

View Online Shop

 

Aistear Síolta Practice Guide

Creating and Using the Learning Environment.

Go to Website

 

More Useful Environment Resources

arranging active learning environment

designing earlychildhood facilities

Valuing and involving Parents and families requires a proactive partnership approach evidenced by a range of clearly stated, accessible and implemented processes, policies and procedures.

standard3

Parental Involvement

 

Síolta – Research Digest Papers

Department of Health and Children (2002). Best Health for Children – Investing in Parenthood to Achieve Best Health for Children, The Supporting Parents Strategy. Dublin: Department of Health and Children.

Download PDF

What does the Aistear/Síolta Practice Guide say about building partnership with Parents?

View Website

Ensuring inclusive decision-making requires consultation that promotes participation and seeks out, listens to and acts upon the views and opinions of children, parents and staff and other stakeholders, as appropriate.

standard4th

 

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (2005). Towards a Framework for Early Learning: Final Consultation Report. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Download PDF

 

Neaum, S. and Tallack, J. (2000). Good Practice in Implementing the Pre-school Curriculum (2nd Ed.). Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes

View Website

United Nations General Assembly (1989). United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Geneva: United Nations.

View Website

 

Fostering constructive interactions (child/child child/adult) requires explicit policies and procedures and practice that emphasise the value of process and are based on mutual respect equal partnership and sensitivity.

 

standard5th

Talking Twin Babies

What does the Aistear/Síolta Practice Guide say about Interactions?

View Website

 

Síolta – Interactions – Research Digest Papers

French, G. (2007). Children’s Early Learning and Development: Background Paper for the Framework for Early Learning. Paper Commissioned by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Download PDF

 

Guralnick, M., Hammond, M., Connor, R. and Neville, B. (2006). Stability, Change, and Correlates of the Peer Relationship of Young Children with Mild Developmental Delays. Child Development, Volume 77, No. 2, pp. 312-324.

Download PDF

 

Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Taggart, B. (2004).  The Final Report: Effective Pre-School Education. London: Institute of Education.

Download PDF

 

More Useful Interactions Resources

helpingchildrenplayandlearntogether

Promoting Play requires that each child has ample time to engage in freely available and accessible, developmentally and well-resourced opportunities for exploration, creativity and ‘meaning-making’  in the company of other children, with participating and supportive adults and alone where appropriate.

 

Play – This is Me

 

Research Digest Papers

Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (2005). Early Childhood in Ireland: Evidence and Perspectives. Dublin: Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education.

Download PDF

French, G. (2007). Children’s Early Learning and Development: Background Paper for the Framework for Early Learning. Paper Commissioned by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Download PDF

Jones, L., Holmes, R. and Powell, J. (Eds) (2005). Early Childhood Studies: A Multiprofessional Perspective. Berkshire: Open University Press.

View Website

 

 

Encouraging each child’s holistic development and learning requires the implementation of a verifiable, broad-based documented curriculum or programme.

standard7curriculum

Doris Pronin Fromberg is Professor and past-chairperson of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Hofstra University, where she also serves as Director of Early Childhood Teacher Education.

What does the Aistear/Síolta Practice Guide say about Curriculum?

View Website

Curriculum – Research Digest Papers

French, G. (2007). Children’s Early Learning and Development: Background Paper for the Framework for Early Learning. Paper Commissioned by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Download PDF

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (2004). Towards a Framework for Early Learning – A Consultative Document. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Download PDF

Neaum, S. and Tallack, J. (2000). Good Practice in Implementing the Pre-school Curriculum (2nd Ed.). Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes.

View Website

 

Curriculum Links

Aistear

Síolta

Play

Reggio Emilia

HighScope

Montessori

Forest School

Te Whariki

Steiner Waldorf

Froebel

Enriching and informing all aspects of practice within the setting requires cycles of observation, planning action and evaluation, undertaken on a regular basis.

 

standard8 planningandevaluation

gibb srefective cycle

GIBB SREFLECTIVE PRACTICE TEMPLATE

 

Reflection with intention

 

Promoting health and welfare of the child requires protection from harm, provision of nutritious food, appropriate opportunities for rest, and secure relationships characterised by trust and respect.

standard 9 healthandwelfare

Midland Health Board Lenus (2020). Best Health for Children Developing a Partnership with Families

Download PDF

 

Organising and managing resources effectively requires agreed written philosophy, supported by clearly communicated policies and procedures to guide and determine practice.

standard 10 organisation

Research Digest Papers

Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016

Download PDF

Moss, P. (1999). Early Childhood Institutions as a Democratic and Emancipatory Project (in) Abbott, L. and Moylett, H. (Eds.). Early Education Transformed. London: Routledge Falmer, pp. 142–151.

View Website

Taggart, B. (2007). The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) Project: Intensive Case Studies of Practice across the English Foundation Stage. Keynote address presented at the CECDE Conference, Vision into Practice, Dublin Castle, 8th–10th

Download PDF

Practising in a professional manner requires that individuals have skills, knowledge values and attitudes appropriate to their role and responsibility within the setting. In addition, it requires regular reflection upon practice and engagement in supported ongoing professional development.
 
standard 11 professional practice

Research Digest Papers

Dahlberg, G., Moss, P. and Pence, A. (1999). Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education: Postmodern Perspectives. London: Falmer Press.

Download PDF

Department of Education and Science (1999). Ready to Learn – A White Paper on Early Childhood Education. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

Visit Website

Duignan, M. (2003). A Problem-based Learning Approach to Continuing Professional Education for Pre-school Officers in the Early Childhood Care and Education Sector in Ireland: Rationale and Curriculum Design. M.A. Thesis in Third Level Learning and Teaching. Dublin: Dublin Institute of Technology.

Download PDF

Howes, C. (1997). Children’s Experiences in Center-Based Child Care as a Function of Teacher Background and Adult: child Ratio. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, Volume 43, No. 3, pp. 404-425.

View Website

Oberheumer, P. and Ulich, M. (1997). Working with Young Children in Europe: Provision and Staff Training. London: Paul Chapman.

View Website

 

Communicating effectively in the best interests of the child requires policies, procedures and actions that promote the proactive sharing of knowledge and information among appropriate stakeholders with respect and confidentiality.

standard 12 communication

The Big Start Campaign

Early Years workers and providers are dedicated and passionate about delivering a quality service that focuses on the needs of children and realising their full potential. However they are facing some big problems.

View Website

Ensuring continuity of experiences for children requires policies, procedures and practice that promotes sensitive management of transitions, consistency in key relationships, liaison within and between settings, the keeping and transfer of relevant information (with parent consent), and the close involvement of Parents and where appropriate relevant professionals.

standard 13 transitions

standard 14 identity and belonging

 

What does the Aistear/Síolta Practice Guide say about Identity & Belonging?

View Website

 

Research Digest Papers

Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2001). Diversity and Learning in the Early Years (in) Pugh, G. (Ed.). Contemporary Issues in the Early Years: Working Collaboratively for Children. London: Sage Publications, pp. 96-107.

View Website

Vandenbroeck, M. (2000). Self-Awareness, Cultural Identity and Connectedness: Three Themes to (Re) Define in Anti-Bias Work. Paper presented at the European Conference on Quality in Early Childhood Education (EECERA), Institute of Education, London, 29th August–1st September 2000.

Download PDF

 

The Danger of a Single Story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | TED Talks

 

Being compliant requires that all relevant regulations and legislative requirements are met or exceeded.

Barnardos and NCN Legislation Handbook for Childcare Providers (2019). Dublin: Barnardos’ National Children’s Resource Centre.

View Website

Tusla – Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations (2016) and Tusla Quality Regulatory Framework Document (2018)

Download PDF

Download PDF

Promoting community involvement requires the establishment of networks and connections evidenced by policies and procedures and actions that extend and support all adult’s and children’s engagement with the wider community.

standard16th

 

Aistear Síolta Practice Guide

This introduction to the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide explains the purpose of, and audience for the Guide and outlines the meaning of the word ‘curriculum’ as used in Aistear, in Síolta and in the Guide. It also gives an overview of the structure of the Practice Guide and describes the aspects of Aistear and Síolta that it focuses on.