Progress in Early Childhood Care and Education
Inspection of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Centres
In 2013, the Education Quality Assurance Unit (EQAU) completed inspections of privately owned early childhood care and education centres. These inspections confirmed the findings of the Ministry’s Early Childhood Care and Education Unit: that the quality of provision across the early childhood centres is wide and varied.
One of the functions of the Early Childhood Care and Education Unit in the Ministry, has been to offer on-going support and guidance to the centres prior to and after the inspection. This support and guidance comes in various forms, from training to developing a national ECCE curriculum.
All ECCE centres that were inspected received copies of their inspection reports. Centre managers were able to use the reports, along with support already offered by the Early Childhood Care and Education Unit, from the Ministry of Education, to guide improvements within their centres. The ECCE Unit in the Ministry reports that all centres have been very willing partners in the process of change, and have been responsive to support offered.
After the inspection, each centre was given an opportunity to provide a progress report in November, 2013 to the Education Quality Assurance Unit (EQAU), which is published alongside the Inspection report.
The ECCE Unit in the Ministry recognises that many of centres have made much progress since this and have provided another opportunity (1 year after the initial inspection) for centres to update their progress reports. These will be published by June 30, 2014 but it is important to note that these have yet to be quality assured by the Education Quality Assurance Unit (EQAU). The Ministry of Education has planned to complete progress check inspections at the centres in the near future by the Education Quality Assurance Unit. These will be also be published on this website when completed.
Since the inspections, the Education Council Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education Centres (2013) and the Cayman Islands Early Childhood Curriculum Framework have been developed. The implementation of these documents will lead to important developments in early childhood which are anticipated to have great impact on the standard of care and education provision offered in the centres.
The Education Council Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education Centres (2013)
The Guidelines require a multi-agency approach, to ensure that the standards for the safety and well-being of the children in early childhood centres are upheld.
To date, these agencies comprise of:
- Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Unit
- Department of Environmental Health (DEH)
- Fire Services
- Department of Children and Family Services(DCFS)
- Planning Department
- Department of Education Services (DES)
- Trade and Business Licence
The guidelines consist of Information compiled from each agency listed above in an effort to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of standards and expectations for the early childhood centres. Sample forms and policies are also included in the document, easing the work of owners and managers of the centres.
The Guidelines build on previous regulatory work by early childhood professionals, including Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Guidelines, international best practice, as well as the pioneering work of Mrs. Marjorie Beckles. Prior to these Guidelines being developed, ECCE centres were governed under guidelines which were published in 2002.
The 2013 Guidelines provide information to potential early childhood centre owners on how to register their early childhood centre with the Education Council. It also included information on care and education provision, premises and facilities, health and safety and leadership and management. This is to ensure that all stakeholders in early childhood education are aware of the process and expectations of managing and maintaining high standards of provision for the children they are responsible for.
The Cayman Islands Early Years Curriculum Framework (CIECYF)
The Cayman Islands Early Years Curriculum Framework (CIEYCF) is another valuable tool designed to help early years practitioners be confident in their roles and to help ensure quality provision is standardised. This Framework details best practices, suggested activities and resources for early years practitioners to utilize when planning for various age groups and different developmental stages.
After drafting the CIECYF, a piloting and consultation process was completed; followed by final edits. The CIECYF was ratified by the Education Council in April 2014 as the national curriculum for early years. Arrangements for printing and distribution of the CIEYCF are underway. It will also be available online for parents and other persons wishing to access it. Implementation of the CIEYCF is another way to ensure that quality provision is standardized across all centres.
Early childhood is ever changing; with new initiatives, research and advances. The Early Childhood Care and Education Unit and the early childhood care and education centres in tandem with other stakeholders, are making strides to “build a world class early childhood care and education system” in the Cayman Islands where our youngest children can grow, learn and develop in safe and enriching environments.