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NorthSide Primary: (L-R) Kushana Gentles; Renee Barnes; Julie Madgwick

Published 23rd December 2011, 11:29am

Launched in May 2011, the Ministry of Education's Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Unit has already achieved two important firsts for the Cayman Islands:

  • "the first National Cayman Islands Early Years National Curriculum Framework;
  • "the launch of a new Introduction to Early Years training programme for staff working in early years settings.

According to the Senior Policy Adviser for Early Years, Ms Julie Madgwick, the CI Early Years Curriculum Framework was developed after consultation with early years stakeholders, including ECCE centre owners and school principals. She explained that it is based on international best practice and provides clear standards, expectations, guidance and support, to enable all early years settings to provide quality learning experiences for all children under their care. It also follows on from the work of Mrs Beckles, a Caymanian pioneer in early childhood care and education.

The curriculum framework is being piloted, and the process will be supported by the ECCE Unit, which will lead a review prior to finalising the document next year. Copies of the curriculum are being hand-delivered to each centre and school this month (December 2011).

The new "Introduction to Early Years" training programme has been designed and delivered by the ECCE Unit and is based on the new curriculum. It runs for six-weeks, two evenings a week, and aims to ensure that everyone working in early years settings and schools have some level of training that supports quality provision by the end of this financial year.

According to Ms Madgwick, the response has been fantastic. "Already 32 early-years practitioners have completed the course and another 51 are in process. There is a great desire for quality, affordable and accessible training amongst our Early Years Practitioners and participants are really applying themselves. One of our unit's key mandates is targeted training, and we look forward to building on this important start," she said.

Early Childhood Care and Education is one of the government's top priorities for education. It is one of the five goals of the 2010 Education Stabilisation Plan, which reads: "To improve and expand early childhood care and education to ensure that all children, regardless of income, special education need or background, have access to high quality early childhood care and education."

Education Minister, Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP, is thrilled with the progress of the unit and the progress being made to build a world-class early childhood care and education system for the Cayman Islands.

"I thank Julie and the members of her team for all their hard work," he stated. "I also commend all the Early Years Centre Owners and practitioners for the way they have welcomed the Unit. They are excited about the attention and the support we are providing for the Early Years, and are working with us in partnership."

Minister Anglin noted that while there was still much work remaining, the foundation and standards have been set through the delivery of the new Cayman Islands Early Years Curriculum Framework. "Through the curriculum the unit's training programmes and other work, I am confident that we are well on our way towards building the world class early childhood care and education system our children deserve," he said.