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Published 20th May 2011, 3:4pm

With the launch of a new Early Childhood Care and Education Unit (ECCE) on 9 May, the Ministry of Education has made a significant step towards its goal of ensuring that Cayman's children receive quality early childhood care and education.
Education Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP, has identified improvements in early childhood care and education as a critical priority for his ministry.  It is one of the four key drivers identified in his Education Stabilisation Plan, launched in January 2011.
"I am delighted that we now have a unit that is staffed with highly skilled, experienced and passionate staff, most of whom are talented Caymanians," Minister Anglin said. "Their work will enable us to tackle long-standing needs such as appropriate legislation, curriculum, quality standards, teaching quality, training and monitoring."
Chief Officer, Mary Rodrigues emphasised the importance of quality care and education for our young children.  "As an education system, we cannot hope to achieve our long-term goal of ensuring success for all our children, without understanding just how important their earliest learning experiences are to their chances of later educational success," she said.
"And once we understand that, we have to back this up with investments that will ensure they have access to world-class learning opportunities. As such, we've strategised and reallocated resources to make this unit possible."
The five-person unit is led by Julie Madgwick, who has a Master's in Education and a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning. She has had 25 years experience in education, including providing leadership and implementing best practice in the early years.
Her work in early-years teacher education has given her an understanding of the importance of high quality teachers during the pre-school and kindergarten years. In her most recent role as senior advisor implementing new curriculum and pedagogy in the United Arab Emirates, she worked with principals and teachers to improve the standard of education in kindergartens and primary schools.
In her new role of senior policy advisor, early childhood care and education, Ms Madgwick will provide research and policy advice to set the strategic direction of the unit. She will work with her team to ensure that the children of the Cayman Islands receive quality early childhood care and education.
Her team includes Early Childhood Care and Education Officer Reneé Barnes; Early Childhood Instructional Specialist Carol Bennett; Early Childhood Care and Education Officer for Cayman Brac April Tibbetts; and Executive Support Assistant Yvette Rattigan-Jones.
The ECCE Unit began their introductory visits to pre-schools, day cares and reception classes the week of 17 May.  Unit staff will all participate in the Ministry's Parents Education and Information Fair scheduled for 21 May, at the Camana Bay Arts and Recreation Centre.