National Síolta Aistear Initiative (NSAI)

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Síolta is the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education.
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 attend.


Aistear is the curriculum framework for children from birth to six years in Ireland. It describes learning and development through the four interconnected themes of Well-being, Identity and Belonging, Communicating, and Exploring and Thinking.
Four sets of guidelines, focusing on different aspects of pedagogy, describe how the adult can support children’s learning and development across these themes.
The guidelines focus on
- building partnerships between parents and practitioners
- learning and developing through interactions
- learning and developing through play
- supporting learning and development through assessment.

Aistear Síolta Practice Guide:

The purpose of the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide (NCCA, 2015) is to support practitioners in using Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (NCCA, 2009) and Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (CECDE, 2006) together to develop the quality of their practice and in doing so, to better support children’s learning and development.
The Practice Guide includes a range of resources to help practitioners to critically reflect on their practice and to identify what works well. Additionally, the resources available in the Practice Guide can help practitioners to identify priorities for development and to plan actions for positive change. In this way, the Practice Guide can be used for on-going review, to develop and to improve practice informally, either individually and in staff teams and more formally, by engaging with an Aistear Síolta mentor.

As part of the The National Síolta Aistear Initiative (NSAI), Síolta Aistear mentors have been identified across the country from City and County Childcare Committees, National Voluntary Childcare Organisations, and Area Based Childhood (ABC) Projects. We have two Siolta mentors based in Galway Childcare Committee.
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National Síolta Aistear Initative:

The National Síolta Aistear Initiative (NSAI) was established in 2016 to support the coordinated roll-out of Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education.
The NSAI is being funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) and is being developed in collaboration with the Department of Education and Skills (DES).
Two national coordinators have been appointed as part of the initiative; the Aistear Coordinator who is situated in the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the Síolta Coordinator who is situated the Early Years Education Policy Unit (EYEPU) in the Department of Education and Skills.

Better Start Quality Development Service:

The Better Start Quality Development Service provides a highly skilled and experienced Early Years Specialist team to work directly in a mentoring capacity with early years services, complementing and adding to other quality resources such as training, continuing professional development programmes, networking, cluster-type support groups and individual or team-based development work provided by the City and County Childcare Committees and the Voluntary Childcare Organisations.
Requests for the service come directly to Better Start from the City and County Childcare Committees. All requests for the service are processed centrally. Early Years Specialists will be allocated to the ECEC services on the basis of availability, skills and experience as far as possible matching the service profile.


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