Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Research)


Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies

First Advisor

Dr Judith Butler

Second Advisor

Dr Vanessa Murphy


This research addresses the historical and current influences on quality practice and provision by reviewing national and international literature debating quality in the Irish Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme (DCEDIY, 2021a). To understand quality components the regulations and policy frameworks that inform and guide the ECCE scheme (DCEDIY, 2021a), including ECCE practice and the implications for provision standards, are explored. Four research questions ask: (1) What constitutes quality provision for children attending the ECCE scheme (DCEDIY, 2021a)? (2) What has informed ECCE regulation and policy in Ireland? (3) What are the identified challenges associated with the ECCE scheme (DCEDIY, 2021a)? (4) What recommendations can enhance the ECCE scheme (DCEDIY, 2021a) for children, families, and practitioners? The bio-ecological systems theory (Bronfenbrenner and Morris, 2007), which considers the child as a construct of their immediate surroundings and the more prominent beliefs of the society in which they reside, underpinned this study. A qualitative research approach involved semi-structured interviews with practitioners (n=10) and stakeholders (n=6) (employed in leadership positions in support/mentoring/advocacy roles). Findings depict six interconnected components that indicate quality practice (i.e., Initial Practitioner Education (IPE), leadership, regulation and evaluation, professional recognition and development, an emergent curriculum, and consultation). The challenges for providing quality ECCE include a lack of investment and professional recognition, inconsistency and irregularity of inspection, and disruption to children’s interactions and communication between practitioners and policymakers. Three qualification levels, Level 6/7/8 permitted as ECCE room leader with additional responsibility for the manager without any management training challenges compliance and services alignment. To enhance quality practice and provision, this study recommends mandating a professional graduate workforce supported with management training involving distributed pedagogical leadership. Integrate one quality framework utilising an emergent curriculum. Introduce standardised professional salary scales. A single inspectorate should monitor and evaluate quality ECCE provision.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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