Early Years Education

Perspectives on
quality experiences
in Early Years settings

Given the widespread provision as well as considering the positive impact which high quality early years settings have on children’s overall development, this research aims to consider how quality is interpreted and promoted in the local context by various stakeholders.

Apart from the established kindergarten settings for three to five year olds, early years services for under three-year-olds have increased substantially over the past decade. Whilst in the late 90s there were a handful of childcare settings, currently there are 922 registered centres responsible for minding under- three-year olds.

These settings have proliferated predominantly in response to the demand for supporting a family-work balance and attracting women to the labour-market. To date, there is no legislation requiring a license to operate a child-care setting. Offering tax-rebates to parents using registered child-care settings (2008/2009) and providing free-child care services for parents who are working or studying (April 2014), were two measures undertaken by subsequent government administrations in order to entice service providers to officially register their centre.

This project is being led by Prof Valerie Sollars.

Data to be collected are required as results will help to:
(a) inform parents about quality matters in order that they may be better positioned to choose or demand suitable settings for their children;
(b) find out about practitioners’ views and perceptions about quality provision and help them to reflect upon their own practices as well as address challenges they face;
(c) systematically record information about practices in early years settings with a view to improving the quality of services as well as finding ways of sharing good practice;
(d) guide policy makers in developing an overall policy for the early years sector with a view to promoting high quality services for early years.

Data will be collected from various participants through different instruments and from a number of early years settings in an attempt to capture a representative snap-shot from the major stakeholders in childcare and kindergarten. The participants for the proposed study will include service managers, childcarers, kindergarten assistants, Heads responsible for KG settings and parents. Participation will be on a voluntary basis. No identities, either of the settings or the individual participants will be disclosed at any stage of the study.


Triangulation of data will be possible through the information collected from the different perspectives offered by the stakeholders. Considering the number of childcare settings, KG services in the state, church and independent sector, stratified and cluster sampling will be used in order to ensure representation from each sector. This implies that 60 settings will be invited to participate, distributed as follows: 28 childcare settings of the current 92 which are registered; 19 of the 62 state KG settings (there are multiple groups in each of these 62 settings); 9 of 30 Church KG settings; and 3 of the 10 independent schools which have KG settings.

Prof Valerie Sollars, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education