Quality Matters in Early Childhood Education and Care

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This series of reports on quality in childhood education examine both specific countries as well as specific issues related to the quality of childhood education and make recommendations.

Quality Matters in Early Childhood Education and Care: Finland 2012

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Miho Taguma, Ineke Litjens, Kelly Makowiecki
23 mars 2012
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9789264173569 (PDF)

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This report reviews quality in childhood education and care in Finland. It suggest strengths and point to areas for further reflection on current policy initiatives.

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  • Foreword
    This publication is intended to be a quick reference guide for anyone with a role to play in encouraging quality in Finland’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce.
  • Executive Summary
    ECEC is a topic of increased policy interest in Finland where improving quality in the ECEC sector is a subject of growing importance. One of the aspects that matters most for the level of quality of ECEC provision is the adults who work with young children in preschool education, i.e., the ECEC workforce. Well-educated, well-trained professionals are the key factor in providing high-quality ECEC with the most favourable cognitive and social outcomes for children.
  • Introduction
    Early childhood education and care (ECEC) has become a policy priority in many countries. A growing body of research recognises that it provides a wide range of benefits, including social and economic benefits, better child well-being and learning outcomes as a foundation for lifelong learning, more equitable outcomes and reduction of poverty, and increased intergenerational social mobility. But these positive benefits are directly related to the "quality" of ECEC.
  • Where does Finland stand regarding policy outcomes and inputs?
    In general, Finland performs above the OECD average with most of the ECEC outcome indicators. On socio-demographic and labour market outcomes, the fertility rates are slightly higher than the average countries; and maternal employment rates are in line with the average or above. On child outcome indicators, there is very little child poverty; Finnish students at the age of 15 perform well on PISA assessments for reading, mathematics and science; school survival rates are high; and young people (15 to 19 years) are most often either in school or work. Areas for reflection on possible policy change with an international comparative perspective include: improving gender equality in earnings for women; increasing ECEC enrolment rates for children at ages three and five; and improving health outcomes for students at age 15.
  • What does research say?
    Staff qualifications, initial education and professional development contribute to enhancing pedagogical quality, which is – ultimately – highly associated with better child outcomes. It is not the qualification per se that has an impact on child outcomes but the ability of better qualified staff members to create a high-quality pedagogic environment. Key elements of high staff quality are the ways in which staff involve children, stimulate interaction with and between children, and use diverse scaffolding strategies.
  • Where does Finland stand compared to other countries?
    Finland’s ECEC workforce has several strengths, such as a high qualification level of staff with teaching responsibilities, advanced professional development opportunities and favourable working environments. Staff with teaching responsibilities are well educated and trained with high initial qualification requirements. There is broad provision of initial education, with full-time and parttime programmes provided publicly and privately. Professional development is mandatory for all staff; and training costs are shared between individual staff members, the government and employers. Professional development is offered by a range of providers, with different modes, on a variety of topics. Working conditions in terms of staff-child ratio are among the best of OECD countries.
  • What are the challenges and strategies?
    Common challenges countries face in enhancing quality in ECEC workforce include: 1) improving staff qualifications; 2) securing a high-quality workforce supply; 3) retaining the workforce; 4) workforce and leadership development; and 5) managing the quality of workforce in private ECEC provision.
  • Annex A. Definitions and methodologies
    Professional development refers to knowledge, skills and competencies attained for professional advancement. Professional development opportunities are aimed at improving the performance of ECEC staff in already assigned positions. Professional development opportunities are often referred to as "in-service training" and "continuous education/training". The contents indicate which subject areas and topics these training programmes seek to address and improve upon.
  • Annex B. Figures for spider web on policy outcomes
  • Annex C. Figures for spider web on policy inputs
  • Annex D. Notes to the spider webs
  • Annex E. Methodology and data sources for the spider webs
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