copy the linklink copied!4. Structural features of early childhood education and care centres and quality

This chapter presents findings from the Starting Strong Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS Starting Strong) 2018 on the characteristics of early childhood education and care centres: where the centres are located, what types of centres exist, how many staff they employ and which children they serve. It explores how centre characteristics are associated with characteristics of staff, such as their qualifications, as well as practices in the centre. These practices include support for children’s development across different domains, as well as activities in response to children’s diverse cultural backgrounds. Since the transition from pre-primary education to primary school is a key milestone in a child’s educational path, the chapter also explores practices in support of smooth transitions and how they relate to centre characteristics.

    

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

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Key messages
  • Centre leaders have an overall positive view on the neighbourhood where their centres are located, but there are also negative perspectives, depending on the country. For instance, except in Japan and Norway, more than one in eight centre leaders per country report that there is litter lying around in the neighbourhood of their pre-primary education centre.

  • Across the countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong, early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres are most commonly characterised as stand-alone buildings, except in Turkey where co-location with primary schools is the most common arrangement. In several countries, co-location with primary schools is associated with more frequent meetings and communication with primary school staff and transition-related activities for parents and guardians.

  • Across the participating countries, large pre-primary education centres with 80 or more children are most common in Germany, Japan and Iceland (more than 25% of centres). The size of centres varies a lot within countries, especially in Korea and Turkey. But in Israel’s pre-primary system, centre size is equivalent to group size and very homogenous. Most pre-primary education centres also serve children under age 3, indicating age-integrated services in many countries.

  • The number of ECEC staff per child (defined as the total number of staff working in a centre, regardless of their role, divided by the total number of children enrolled) in pre-primary centres shows major differences across participating countries. The average number of staff per ten children is around two in pre-primary centres in Germany, Israel, Japan and Turkey, while it is above four in Chile and Norway. The number of staff per child is slightly higher in centres for children under age 3.

  • Across countries, the number of staff per child tends to become less favourable as the size of the centres increases, indicating that having more children is not proportionally matched with a greater number of staff. This difference in the number of staff per child between larger and smaller pre-primary centres is particularly big in Chile and Korea, while it is comparatively small in Germany, Iceland and Japan.

  • In addition to variations within countries in the number of staff per child, the share of highly qualified staff also varies across centres. There is little indication that the structural conditions of ECEC centres exacerbate inequities for children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, but the data suggest that countries do not systematically provide enhanced structural conditions (e.g. higher staff qualifications or a more favourable number of staff per child) in centres with more children from such homes.

  • More than a third of centres in Germany, Iceland and Norway have 11% or more children whose first language differs from of the language(s) used in the centre, while this is rare in Japan and Korea. In Chile, Germany and Iceland, staff in pre-primary centres with more children who have a different first language also report a greater use of activities related to children’s diversity.

  • On average, in all participating countries, leaders of ECEC centres indicate that for every around 15 staff members working in the centre at least 1 has permanently left the pre-primary centre in the previous year. This share increases to around 1 out of 5 staff members in pre-primary centres in Japan, Iceland and Korea and almost 1 out of 3 in Israel’s centres for children under age 3.

copy the linklink copied!Introduction

The Starting Strong Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS Starting Strong) 2018 offers an internationally comparative picture of ECEC centres across the participating countries. Leaders are asked to report information on the characteristics of their centres and, along with staff, they give insights on the work with children.

This chapter seeks to provide an overview of the different types of ECEC centres across pre-primary education (Chile, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Norway and Turkey) and for children under age 3 (Denmark, Germany, Israel and Norway) and of how the different characteristics of centres relate to policy and practice. It first describes the characteristics of ECEC centres that tend to be beyond the reach of policy makers responsible for ECEC (e.g. the size of the surrounding city and the features of the neighbourhood). It then considers aspects that can be more directly influenced by ECEC policy, namely which children are attending what centres and where certain types of staff work. Next, it explores the association between these structural aspects and the reports on practices in the centres (see Figure 4.1). The chapter then takes stock of the extent to which these different aspects interact and create equitable learning and well-being environments for all children. It closes with conclusions and policy implications of the analysis.

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Figure 4.1. Framework for the analysis of centre characteristics associated with practices and process quality in TALIS Starting Strong
Figure 4.1. Framework for the analysis of centre characteristics associated with practices and process quality in TALIS Starting Strong

copy the linklink copied!Insights from research and policy evidence

Centre characteristics, such as the number of staff per child, the level of staff qualifications, the features of the centre location and working conditions for staff are important preconditions for fostering child development in ECEC settings. The literature suggests that these structural features of centres may have indirect links to children’s development and learning by affecting the quality of the interactions between staff and children in a dynamic reciprocal process (Sim et al., 2019[1]).

Aspects such as the ratio of children to adults, group size and staff pre-service qualifications have been used as key components of strategies for improving ECEC quality (OECD, 2018[2]), with many countries raising the standards and extending regulations. These structural aspects have also received considerable attention from researchers. Despite strict regulations and accumulated knowledge, there is still variation across centres in these characteristics, which may be a function of regional and local policies, overpopulation in certain regions or fluxes of migration. Other features, such as the composition of the centre (e.g. the proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds) and the location of the centre (e.g. urban or rural, in a school or a stand-alone building) or the quality of the neighbourhood are underexplored in international comparative research, but they do frame policy efforts to regulate and improve equity and quality.

To enhance the understanding of how structural features influence process quality, it is important to contextualise process quality by examining features beyond the classroom or playroom, at centre or community levels (Slot, 2018[3]). TALIS Starting Strong 2018 therefore considers a wide range of structural characteristics in ECEC settings, including proxies for the most familiar indicators, namely the number of staff per child and staff pre-service qualifications, as well as centre and community characteristics that may also influence the quality of learning and well-being environment (Sim et al., 2019[1]).

Centre location

Centres located in urban settings have been found to differ in many aspects from centres in rural areas. For example, higher child-to-staff ratios were found for infant groups in rural areas in the United States (Anderson and Mikesell, 2017[4]; Maher, Frestedt and Grace, 2008[5]). Urban centres in China have been found to receive more funding and attract more qualified staff (Hu et al., 2016[6]; Hu et al., 2014[7]). In some countries, there is less availability of ECEC in rural areas (OECD, 2017[8]). These limitations of staffing and access in rural areas may in, turn, lead to lower-quality interactions between staff and children (Hu et al., 2016[6]; Maher, Frestedt and Grace, 2008[5]). Conversely, in one observational study, higher-quality interactions between staff and children have been found in rural or suburban areas of Portugal, possibly because staff working in rural areas experience lower levels of stress than staff in urban areas (Barros et al., 2016[9]).

Neighbourhoods are considered an important social context for children, as they provide access to resources and opportunities that contribute to child development and well-being (Anderson, Leventhal and Dupéré, 2014[10]; Shuey and Kankaraš, 2018[11]). The physical location of the centre may affect the relationships children develop with the people, neighbourhood and institutions surrounding them. Children’s experience is enriched when the ECEC centre fosters and supports real-life interactions with the outside world (i.e. parks, museums, swimming pools, greeting in the neighbourhood). A recent review suggests that social, economic and cultural characteristics of children's neighbourhoods are related to child developmental outcomes (Minh et al., 2017[12]). Features such as how parents perceive safety, the density of social networks, the economic characteristics of the neighbourhood or the quality of neighbourhood outdoor areas (e.g. parks and playgrounds) have been shown to exert unique effects on children and families (Christian et al., 2015[13]; Minh et al., 2017[12]). Correlational and experimental studies have also found that the effects of the neighbourhood socio-economic conditions on child development are particularly important during early childhood (Anderson, Leventhal and Dupéré, 2014[10]; Chetty, Hendren and Katz, 2016[14]; Webb et al., 2017[15]).

The neighbourhood context is also associated with aspects of ECEC. Neighbourhood characteristics have been shown to vary together with the supply and availability of centre-based ECEC, as well as with families’ likelihood of using it (Dupere et al., 2010[16]; Shuey, E. A. and Leventhal, T., 2018[17]). The neighbourhood environment has also been linked to the observed quality of ECEC. Several correlational studies have found that ECEC process quality is lower in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods (Burchinal, M. et al., 2008[18]; Hatfield, B. E. et al., 2015[19]; McCoy, D. C., et al., 2015[20]). Thus, the neighbourhood context is likely to shape families’ access to high-quality ECEC.

ECEC centres play a key role in creating connections between children and communities and in strengthening their relationships (OECD, 2011[21]; Sanders, 2003[22]). Research suggests that a strong connection between ECEC centres, families and communities may be particularly important for children in disadvantaged circumstances or facing vulnerable moments, such as transitions (OECD, 2017[23]). Co-operation between ECEC centres and wider social services can contribute to more adequately respond to what children actually need in terms of their overall development and to address the multiple needs of families (Van Tuijl and Leseman, 2013[24]; Weiss, Caspe and Lopez, 2008[25]).

Co-operation among early-years services and other services can also support smooth transitions from ECEC to school (OECD, 2017[23]). In many societies, transitions involve changes in the expectations, rules and types of activities in which children are engaged, and many children may not easily adjust to those changes (OECD, 2017[23]). Well-prepared transitions may be critically important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are at greater risk of lack of consistency between home, ECEC and schools. Co-operation among services can be crucial to ensure smooth transitions and to enhance the likelihood of positive outcomes for all young children (OECD, 2017[23]).

Although there has not been extensive study of the issue, there is some correlational evidence suggesting that centres located in schools provide higher process quality than independently functioning centres (Pianta et al., 2005[26]; Slot, Lerkkanen and Leseman, 2015[27]). It is possible that staff from the ECEC centre and the elementary school collaborate more and that curriculum, methods and culture are more aligned (OECD, 2018[2]). At the same time, research indicates that when pre-primary education and primary school practices and curricula become too integrated, there is a risk of “schoolification” (Moss, 2013[28]; OECD, 2017[23]). This can blur the boundaries between early childhood education and more formal primary education (Dahlberg and Lenz-Taguchi, 1994[29]; Moss, 2013[28]). But staff conditions in ECEC centres located in schools may differ in other aspects, such as qualification levels or salaries, that need to be considered (OECD, 2018[2]).

Enrolling young children from disadvantaged backgrounds in high-quality ECEC is a key policy lever to mitigate social inequalities (OECD, 2017[8]). However, in many countries, there are cultural and social barriers in availability or accessibility for disadvantaged families (OECD, 2018[2]), and the participation of children from disadvantaged backgrounds in ECEC is considerably lower than for other children. In addition, studies investigating relations between ethnic classroom composition and process quality showed that observed process quality is lower in classrooms with higher proportions of ethnic minority or multilingual children (Kuger et al., 2015[30]; Leu and Schelle, 2009[31]; LoCassale-Crouch et al., 2007[32]; Slot, Lerkkanen and Leseman, 2015[27]; Slot, 2018[3]; Tonyan and Howes, 2003[33]). Still, other correlational studies found no associations (Cadima, Aguiar and Barata, 2018[34]; Justice et al., 2008[35]) or even positive associations between observed process quality and a higher share of disadvantaged children (Slot et al., 2017[36]), possibly reflecting the targeted policies in place in those particular countries.

Centre staff and stability

Regarding the number of staff per child, the size of the centre and its relation to process quality, evidence at the centre level is scarcer than at the classroom/playroom level. The limited evidence at the centre level tends to favour smaller centres (OECD, 2018[2]). In one study, the authors found an association between smaller centres and organisational support, in terms of educators’ perceived autonomy and opportunities to participate in decision-making (Ho, Lee and Teng, 2016[37]). In the schooling sector, the ideal school size has been a topic of debate. Although there is research suggesting economic benefits from increased size (Ready, Lee and Welner, 2004[38]), other studies favour smaller schools in several dimensions (Leithwood and Jantzi, 2009[39]). Research suggests that, in smaller schools, teachers tend to have more positive attitudes about their responsibility for students' learning (Lee and Loeb, 2000[40]), interpersonal relationships among students and teachers are fostered, and the sense of community is higher (Ahn and Brewer, 2009[41]). Smaller schools also appear to foster a culture of teacher collaboration (Leithwood and Jantzi, 2009[39]). Smaller schools have been also linked with higher levels of observed emotional, organisational and instructional quality in first-grade classrooms (Cadima, Peixoto and Leal, 2014[42]). Regarding staff training, it is widely accepted that a well-trained and knowledgeable workforce is critical for a high-quality ECEC programme (Sim et al., 2019[1]) and is likely to be an important factor in determining child development and learning (Sheridan, 2009[43]) (see Chapter 3).

Importantly, highly qualified staff may not be equally distributed across centres (Guarino, Santibanez and Daley, 2006[44]). Research also points out that highly qualified staff can positively influence the staff working with them who do not have the same high qualifications. Some studies have found that the observed process quality of lower-qualified staff is higher when they are working alongside highly trained staff (Barros et al., 2018[45]; Sammons, 2010[46]). This highlights the importance of staff composition at the centre.

Stability in care has also been found to be strongly and consistently positively related to child outcomes (Loeb et al., 2004[47]). High turnover rates disrupt the continuity of care, and hinder staff’s abilities to provide safe, healthy and good learning environments for children, which in turn leads to poorer child outcomes. Centres with low staff turnover rates have staff that engage in more appropriate and attentive interactions with children, while children in centres with high turnover rates spend less time engaged in meaningful activities (Moon and Burbank, 2004[48]; Whitebook, Howes and Phillips, 1990[49]). When staff members regularly change within a group of children, staff and children are less able to develop stable relationships, and nurturing, stimulating interactions take place less often (Canadian Council on Learning, 2006[50]). Unfortunately, other studies find that ECEC centres often experience turnover rates exceeding 40% annually, undermining the quality of care (Huntsman, 2008[51]; Moon and Burbank, 2004[48]).

copy the linklink copied!The place of early childhood education and care centres

The diversity of participating countries is reflected in where ECEC centres are located and how they differ in size. These aspects, as reported by centre leaders, contextualise the working environment for staff and the learning and well-being environment for children.

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Box 4.1. Understanding ECEC centre characteristics through TALIS Starting Strong

TALIS Starting Strong provides a unique perspective on the structural characteristics of ECEC centres, based on the reports of ECEC centre leaders (defined as the individuals with the most responsibility for administrative, managerial or pedagogical leadership of the centre). This means that the information is a first-hand account of what centres look like, where they are and to what extent their characteristics are seen as favourable for working with and bringing up young children. At the same time, this information provides only an approximation of the actual characteristics in the field. For instance, centre leaders may have limited knowledge of the precise demographics of their location or may not be familiar with all the characteristics of certain groups of staff and children. Depending on the country, they may or may not have access to precise administrative records to inform their responses to the questionnaires. While only one person per centre (the centre leader, as defined above) was invited to respond to the TALIS Starting Strong Leader Questionnaire, there may in practice be multiple individuals in leadership roles in the centre, as suggested by the data on centres’ human resources for some countries. For all of these reasons, the information provided by the Survey should be seen as complementary to administrative data.

Note: For further information, please refer to the TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Technical Report (OECD, 2019[52]).

Centres in rural and urban areas

TALIS Starting Strong data show that ECEC centres are spread across rural and urban areas (see Figure 4.2 for more information on the data). In Chile, Japan, and Korea, the majority of pre-primary education centres for children are located in towns (more than 15 000 people), or cities (more than 100 000 people). In Iceland and Norway, the largest share of centres are located in villages, hamlets, rural areas or small towns (up to 15 000 people) (Figure 4.2). This trend largely reflects the regional distribution of countries’ populations more generally. Countries with the largest share of ECEC centres in smaller locations (up to 3 000 people) in TALIS Starting Strong, for instance, are also among those with the highest share of population living in rural regions in general (OECD, 2019[53]).

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Figure 4.2. Early childhood education and care centre in rural and urban areas
Percentage of ECEC centres situated in the following locations, according to leaders, and share of national population in rural regions according to administrative data
Figure 4.2. Early childhood education and care centre in rural and urban areas

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: The OECD regional typology used to identify the share of national population in rural regions is primarily based on a criterion which identifies rural communities according to population density. A community is defined as rural if its population density is below 150 inhabitants per km2 (500 inhabitants for Japan and Korea to account for the fact that the national population density exceeds 300 inhabitants per km2).

For Israel, data on the share of the national population in rural regions are not available.

Countries are ranked in descending order of the percentage of centres that are located in a village, hamlet or rural area (up to 3 000 people).

Sources: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Database (Table D.4.1) and OECD (2019[53]), National Area Distribution for Data on Share of National Population in Rural Regions (Year of Reference: 2014), https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/34f4ec4a-en (accessed on 7 May 2019).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011154

Across countries, the vast majority of leaders of pre-primary education centres “agree” or “strongly agree” that their centre is in a neighbourhood that is a good place to bring up children. In Chile, although there is also a high percentage of centre leaders who consider their neighbourhood a good place to bring up children, more than one-third of leaders do not consider that there are public spaces where children can play safely. In the countries with data for both levels of education, a positive view by leaders of the neighbourhood environment is generally consistent across pre-primary centres and centres for children under age 3 (Figure 4.3).

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Figure 4.3. The neighbourhood of early childhood education and care centres
Percentage of ECEC leaders who “agree” or “strongly agree” with the following statements
Figure 4.3. The neighbourhood of early childhood education and care centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Note: Countries are ranked in descending order of the average share of leaders who “agree” or “strongly agree” that the neighbourhood of the centre is good to bring up children.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table D.4.2).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011173

There are also neighbourhood characteristics that may pose a challenge to the efforts of ECEC centres and parents to provide a favourable learning and well-being environment for children. Countries differ in the extent to which centres may be exposed to environments unfavourable to children. Except in Japan and Norway, more than one in ten centre leaders per country “agree” or “strongly agree” that there is litter lying around in the neighbourhood of their pre-primary education centre. Looking at the prevalence of vandalism and deliberate damage to property, a similar pattern can be found, with this issue being reported by more than one in ten leaders in all countries and across levels, except in Japan, Korea and Norway (Figure 4.3; Table D.4.2). Leaders’ perceptions of the neighbourhood can vary depending on whether their centres are in more rural areas or more urban locations. For instance, leaders in pre-primary centres in villages, hamlets, rural areas or small towns of 15 000 people or less in Korea show a higher share of agreement with the statement that there are places in the neighbourhood where children can play safely than leaders in cities with a bigger population, while in Israel and Norway, pre-primary leaders in cities are more likely to report that there are places in the neighbourhood where children can play safely than leaders in rural areas or small towns (Table D.4.3).

Centre buildings

TALIS Starting Strong also asks centre leaders about other characteristics of their centre’s location, for instance whether it is a stand-alone building (i.e. the building contains the ECEC centre only), whether it is co-located with a primary school and/or co-located with another ECEC centre. In all countries except Turkey, the majority of pre-primary education centres are in stand-alone buildings (see Table D.4.1; Figure 4.4). In Turkey, almost two-thirds of centres are co-located with primary schools. Co-location with primary schools also applies to more than 20% of pre-primary centres in Chile, Iceland and Korea. Co-location with another ECEC centre is rare in most countries. However, in Israel, half of all pre-primary education centres are co-located with another ECEC centre, which should be seen in the context of each centre being relatively small and consisting of a single group of children. Co-location with another ECEC centre is uncommon for centres for children under age 3 in Israel. In Denmark (with low response rates), Germany, and Norway, the physical location of the centres is similar across centres for children under age 3 and in pre-primary education (see Table D.4.1; Figure 4.4).

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Figure 4.4. Locations and buildings of early childhood education and care centres
Share of ECEC centres situated in the following locations or buildings, according to leaders
Figure 4.4. Locations and buildings of early childhood education and care centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Note: Countries are ranked in descending order of the percentage of centres that are stand-alone buildings. Categories are not mutually exclusive.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table D.4.1).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011192

In some cases, co-location reflects how countries’ ECEC systems are designed and governed more broadly (see also Annex A). In countries with so-called integrated systems, ECEC for children aged around 0-5 is governed by the same authority and regulatory framework, while in countries with so-called split systems, different authorities are in charge for different age groups, such as 0-2 and 3-5 (OECD, 2015[54]; OECD, 2017[8]). For instance, Israel’s pre-primary education centres consist of single classrooms or playrooms, which explains why there could be an interest in locating multiple settings in the same place (see Box 4.2). In Turkey, the pre-primary education system is very much aligned with primary education provision, which is reflected by the fact that the two levels are commonly in the same location.

In a few countries, there are statistically significant differences in the prevalence of stand-alone buildings in small towns and other locations with no more than 15 000 people, compared to towns and cities with a larger population. In Germany, stand-alone buildings are more common in such smaller places, both for pre-primary education and for centres for children under age 3. This is also the case for Israel’s centres for children under age 3. In Iceland, stand-alone pre-primary education centres are more common in bigger towns and cities (Table D.4.4).

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Box 4.2. Policy and governance context for the characteristics of early childhood education and care centres

Centre characteristics are closely linked to the overall organisation of ECEC systems and the sector’s workforce (Chapter 5). For example, Israel, Japan and Norway take very different approaches to how ECEC is provided, which are reflected in leader and staff responses to TALIS Starting Strong (see Annex A of this report for an overview of the systems of all countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong).

Israel

In Israel, pre-primary education centres for children aged 3-5 are very small in international comparison. This is because each classroom or playroom with a regulated maximum of 35 children, who may have different ages within the pre-primary age bracket, is organised as a separate centre. As a result, the main pedagogical staff member in the room is also the leader of the centre (as defined for TALIS Starting Strong), and the number of staff of each centre is very small. However, these pre-primary centres tend to cluster together in the same location more than in other countries. They may also be co-located with primary schools. The provision for this age group is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, while centres for children under age 3 are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Affairs.

For the youngest children, centres tend to be larger in terms of the number of both children and staff. This is related to the fact that those centres include several groups or classes at three levels: 1) infant class; 2) young toddler class; and 3) toddler class. The total size of each centre varies depending on the number of classes. Contrary to the practice in some other countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong, there are many children under age 1 in Israel’s ECEC centres, which implies different demands on centres and staff.

Norway

In Norway, ECEC centres differ greatly in size. In line with the integrated governance under the Ministry of Education and Research, centres often encompass both pre-primary provision and services for children under age 3. It is possible, but rare that centres are co-located with primary schools or other ECEC centres. Given that one-year parental leave is common, there are few children under age 1, but participation is high from then onwards. There are three distinct main staff categories: centre leaders, pedagogical leaders (teachers) and assistants. While staff in the first two categories are required to complete a three-year bachelor degree for ECEC teachers, there are no qualification requirements for assistants. While regulations concerning staff-child and teacher-child ratios depend on children's age (over or under 3 years), the types of staff working with children under and above age 3 are the same, also in terms of training requirements and pay.

Japan

In Japan, pre-primary education is provided by kindergartens for children aged 3-5, serving 40% of the child population (under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), but also by daycare centres for children aged 0-5, serving 36% of this age group (under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), as well as integrated centres for ECEC for the same age group, for 10% of children (under the responsibility of the Cabinet Office). The less common municipal-level childcare services for fewer than 20 children mainly target children aged 0-2 and are not covered by TALIS Starting Strong. Co-location with primary schools or other ECEC centres is rare. However, the introduction of settings for ECEC as a combination of daycare centres and kindergarten was a step towards more integrated provision of ECEC. In principle, staff working in kindergartens are required to hold a license to work as kindergarten teachers, while staff in integrated centres for ECEC have to hold this license and the qualification as nursery teachers required for daycare centres.

Note: This material was supplemented by additional inputs sent by the national authorities in Israel, Japan and Norway, respectively.

Source: OECD (2019[55]), “OECD Network on Early Childhood Education and Care: Quality beyond Regulations Survey”, Internal document, OECD, Paris.

copy the linklink copied!Characteristics and number of children in early childhood education and care centres

With increasing rates of participation in ECEC, the composition of the children served in those centres also increasingly reflects the diversity of the population in each country. The different needs of children of different backgrounds and different ages imply different requirements for policies and practices. In TALIS Starting Strong, centre leaders provide estimates of the share of children from different (albeit not mutually exclusive) groups in their centres.

The number of children in centres

The size of ECEC centres shapes both the working environment and professional contacts for staff, as well as children’s everyday experience. The average size of pre-primary education centres, measured as the number of all children enrolled in the centre, varies greatly across countries. For instance, the average pre-primary education centre in Japan is around four times larger than the average centre in Israel. This should be seen in the context of more centres in Japan covering a wider age span and centres in Israel being strictly limited in terms of size (see Box 4.2). The number of children in pre-primary education centres also varies greatly within countries. For instance, the biggest 25% of pre-primary centres in Korea and Turkey are four times larger than the smallest 25%. In other countries the top 25% are still around twice as big as the bottom 25%, except in Israel where there is little variation (Figure 4.5). These variations also imply that demands on leaders and the physical infrastructure of centres differ.

In Denmark (with low response rates), Germany and Norway, which have integrated ECEC systems, the average number of children is similar across centres for children under age 3 and pre-primary education centres. In Israel, with a split system, the average number of children in centres for children under age 3 is roughly double that of centres for older children (see Box 4.2).

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Figure 4.5. Size of early childhood education and care centres
Average number of children per centre, according to leaders
Figure 4.5. Size of early childhood education and care centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Note: Countries are ranked in ascending order of the average number of children per centre.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table D.4.5).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011211

Centres can generally serve children of a large age span, in particular in countries with integrated systems. TALIS Starting Strong provides information on centres with different age compositions (Figure 4.6). Most pre-primary education centres in the majority of participating countries also serve children under age 3, indicating age-integrated services in many countries. But this integration of different age groups within centres does not necessarily imply age-integrated groups. Groups of children within centres may be organised by children’s age, but mixed-age groups are also common in some countries (see also Box 4.2 and Chapter 2).

In Norway, the majority of centres for pre-primary education report having at least 30% of children under age 3, reflecting the countries’ integrated system. Similarly, in Japan and Korea, such a high share of younger children can also be found in more than four out of ten centres, but there is also a relatively high percentage of centres with few children under age 3 in these countries. In Japan, this can be explained by the parallel presence of age-integrated and split settings. Korea also has a split system, with overlapping age coverage in different types of settings. In Germany, which has an integrated system, and Iceland, which provides integrated centre-based ECEC, more than half of pre-primary education centres include some children who are under age 3 (between 11% and 30%). In contrast, in Chile and Israel, the majority of pre-primary centres include few children under age 3, which also reflects the structure of their ECEC system in general (Figure 4.6; Box 4.2; see Annex A).

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Figure 4.6. Pre-primary education centres serving younger children
Percentage of pre-primary centres that serve children under age 3, by share of children under age 3, according to leaders
Figure 4.6. Pre-primary education centres serving younger children

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Note: Countries are ranked in descending order of the share of pre-primary education centres that have 10% or less of children under age 3.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011230

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Table 4.1. Context of countries' early childhood education and care settings
Table 4.1. Context of countries' early childhood education and care settings

1. In Germany, curricula are under the responsibility of the Länder and have hence been omitted from this table. There is a Common Framework for Early Education in ECEC Settings adopted by the education and youth affairs ministers of the Länder which summarises the core statements of the 16 curricula of the Länder.

2. Ultra-orthodox kindergartens are part of privately-managed kindergartens, but their data is also not analysed for this report.

Note: Settings and age groups with lighter colours are either not included in the TALIS Starting Strong data analysed for this report or the data collection did not focus on the age group concerned. See Annex A for further information on curriculum coverage and ECEC settings in participating countries.

Source: OECD (2019[55]), “OECD Network on Early Childhood Education and Care: Quality beyond Regulations Survey”, Internal document, OECD, Paris.

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Characteristics of children in ECEC centres

The share of children with different characteristics and backgrounds in ECEC centres matters for staff’s everyday practices. For instance, some children may have special educational needs, may have a first language that differs from the language(s) used in the centre, may be refugees and may come from socio-economically disadvantaged homes (see also Chapter 2).

In all countries except Chile, the majority of leaders in pre-primary centres consider that their centres have 10% or less of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes (i.e. children from homes lacking the necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care). In Iceland, Japan and Norway, fewer than one centre in ten report a higher share (11% or more) of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, but this is the case in more than a quarter of centres in Germany and Turkey. In Chile, more than half of centres report having above 30% of children from such homes (Figure 4.7). In centres for children under age 3, the percentage of centres with a high share of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes is low in the four countries covered. As noted in Chapter 2, differences across countries in the percentage of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes are related to cross-country differences in the socio-economic composition of the population and different rates of enrolment of those children, although there may be discrepancies between leaders’ perceptions and administrative data.

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Figure 4.7. Concentration in centres of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes
Percentage of centres who serve the following shares of children from disadvantaged homes, according to leaders
Figure 4.7. Concentration in centres of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Note: Countries are ranked in ascending order of the share of centres with 10% or less of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Database (Table D.4.6).

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Box 4.3. Policies for providing access to minority and disadvantaged children and supporting them

The potential for high-quality ECEC provision to level the ground for children who may come from socio-economically disadvantaged homes or are yet to learn the main language spoken in the country has been a key rationale for expanding access to ECEC in many countries. The increased participation of children from such backgrounds also means that centres need to respond to their needs. Among other countries, Chile, Germany and Denmark have taken various measures in this respect.

Chile

Chile has seen a considerable expansion of ECEC over the past decades (OECD, 2017[56]). From 2005 to 2013, participation in ECEC more than doubled for 3-year-olds (from 23% to 51%) and almost doubled for 4-year-olds (from 42% to 83%). However, coverage of ECEC continues to be highly uneven in Chile, with lower participation rates in rural and lower income areas (OECD, 2015[57]; MINEDUC, 2017[58]). Efforts to increase coverage of ECEC include a national strategy focusing on rural, urban or low-income neighbourhoods (OECD, 2015[57]). The Chile Grows with You programme (Chile Crece Contigo) was designed to provide personalised support to families from disadvantaged backgrounds and offer comprehensive services for socially vulnerable children from birth to school entry (Peralta, 2011[59]; Vegas and Santibañez, 2010[60]). The programme refers at-risk children to ECEC centres, refers parents to services to enhance parenting skills and offers targeted grants for children from the 60% most socio-economically disadvantaged households in Chile, in collaboration with Chile’s social protection system (Chile Solidario) (Government of Chile, 2017[61]). To maximise ECEC access for families from disadvantaged backgrounds, Chile has extended opening hours in some ECEC centres funded by some providers. Chile is also encouraging year-round availability of services (Bertram and Pascal, 2016[62]).

Germany

In Germany, the enrolment of children with an immigrant background in ECEC is lower than for other children, especially among 0-3 year-olds (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2017[63]). Inclusion and diversity practices towards children from minority backgrounds are decided by ECEC providers. To better serve the needs of those children, the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has launched several initiatives. For instance, since 2016 the federal programme Language-Day-Care (Bundesprogramm Sprach-Kitas), targets ECEC centres with high shares of children who require additional support for their language development. Building on the experience of a previous programme on language development, this programme seeks to further implement the concept of language education in daily routines as well as promote inclusive pedagogy and collaboration between families and ECEC centres. In addition, it provides funds for staff of so-called expert services (Fachberatung) who mentor ECEC teams in the area of language promotion in ECEC settings so that in the period from 2017 to 2020 about 7 000 additional part-time positions are expected to be created (Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, n.d.[64]). Another programme, the Access to Day-Care Programme (Bundesprogramm Kita-Einstieg) is providing co-ordination, staff and additional financial supplements to support about 1 000 different offers across around 150 locations between 2017 and 2019. This could, for instance, enable the organisation of a family hiking day, where families and day care staff get to know each other while exploring the neighbourhood by foot, learn about local institutions and ECEC options. This offer targets families who have recently arrived in the neighbourhood or are socio-economically disadvantaged (Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, n.d.[65]).

Denmark

Since 2001, Denmark’s Act on Day Care requires municipalities to ensure ECEC provision for all children between the age of 26 weeks and the start of primary school. Low-income families and/or families who are experiencing social disadvantage, are entitled to up to 100% fee subsidy. A legislative amendment was introduced in July 2019, to ensure children from disadvantaged residential areas attend ECEC settings where the Danish language is spoken and that practices are focused on children’s well-being, learning, education and development. The Mandatory Learning Programme was established as a new ECEC service to ensure that all children who meet the criteria for the Programme are enrolled in an ECEC setting from age 1. Eligible children are required to take up a place in an ECEC offering the programme for 25 hours a week. Enrolment and attendance in the Programme is a precondition for parents to receive child welfare benefits unless they can prove their ability to support their children’s Danish language skills and development at home.

Note: This material was supplemented by additional inputs sent by the national authorities in Chile, Denmark and Germany, respectively.

Sources: OECD (2017[56]), Education in Chile, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264284425-en; OECD (2015[57]), The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264229945-en; MINEDUC (2017[58]), Revisión de las políticas educativas en Chile desde 2004 a 2016 [Review of Educational Policies in Chile from 2004 to 2016: Chile National Report], Peralta (2011[59]), Early childhood education and public care policies in Chile: A historical perspective to analyze the present, https://doi.org/10.1007/2288-6729-5-1-17; Vegas and Santibañez (2010[60]), The promise of early childhood development in Latin America; Government of Chile (2017[61]), ¿Qué es Chile Crece Contigo (ChCC)? [Chile Grows With You], www.crececontigo.gob.cl/acerca-de-chcc/que-es; Bertram and Pascal (2016[62]), Early childhood policies and systems in eight countries: Findings from IEA’s early childhood education study; Statistisches Bundesamt (2017[63]), Betreuungsquote von Kindern unter 6 Jahren mit und ohne Migrationshintergrund in Kindertagesbetreuung am 1. März 2018 nach Ländern, [Daycare rates for children under 6 with and without a migration background in daycare on 1 March 2018 by country], http://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Gesellschaft-Umwelt/Soziales/Kindertagesbetreuung/Tabellen/betreuungsquote-migration-unter6jahren-2018.html;jsessionid=870136CD8B2D2AC0F4143012946A27BC.internet732; Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (n.d.[64]), Bundesprogramm ‘Sprach-Kitas: Weil Sprache der Schlüssel zur Welt ist’, [Federal Programme ’Language Daycare’: Because Language is the Key to the World], https://kita-einstieg.fruehe-chancen.de; Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (n.d.[65]), Bundesprogramm Kita-Einstieg: Bruecken bauen in fruehe Bildung, [Federal Daycare Entry Program: Building bridges in early education], https://sprach-kitas.fruehe-chancen.de/programm/ueber-das-programm; OECD (2019[55]), “OECD Network on Early Childhood Education and Care: Quality beyond Regulations Survey”, Internal document, OECD, Paris; European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2019[66]), Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe – 2019 Edition. Eurydice Report, http://dx.doi.org/10.2797/966808.

TALIS Starting Strong data does not allow identification of differences in participation in ECEC among different population groups, but such differences may persist in the countries analysed. Data from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) shows that the share of 15-year-old students reporting that they attended ECEC for two years or more differs between students from disadvantaged and advantaged backgrounds (Figure 4.8). Among the countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong, PISA 2015 suggests that this difference was largest in Chile, Germany, Israel, Norway and Turkey. These different data sources underline the continued importance of measures to ensure equal access to ECEC for all children (Box 4.3).

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Figure 4.8. Percentage of 15-year-old students who had attended preschool for two years or more, by socio-economic status
Early childhood education (ISCED 0), 2015
Figure 4.8. Percentage of 15-year-old students who had attended preschool for two years or more, by socio-economic status

Notes: Disadvantaged and advantaged students are defined according to the index of economic, social and cultural status of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Countries and economies are ranked in descending order of the differences between the percentage of socio-economically advantaged and disadvantaged students who had attended preschool for two years or more.

Sources: OECD (2017[8]), Starting Strong 2017, Key OECD Indicators on Early Childhood Education and Care, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264276116-en; OECD (2019[67]), PISA Online Education Database, http://www.oecd.org/pisa/data/ (accessed on 24 January 2019).

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There are important differences between countries with regard to the shares of children in ECEC centres whose first language is different from the language(s) used in the centre. In Denmark (with low response rates), Germany, Iceland and Norway, more than a third of the pre-primary centres have 11% or more of children with a different first language. In contrast, in Japan and Korea, the share of centres with large proportions of such children is small.

Centres reporting a sizable share of refugees are rare in participating countries. Only in pre-primary settings in Denmark (with low response rates), Germany and Norway do more than 5% of centres report that they serve 11% or more of children who are refugees. Differences are small between pre-primary education centres and centres for children under age 3 for both the share of children whose first language is different from the language(s) used in the ECEC centre and the share of refugees (Figure 4.9).

In all participating countries, leaders in the majority of centres report that they have 10% or less of children with special needs (those for whom a special learning need has been formally identified). However, in Chile, Denmark (with low response rates) and Iceland, more than a fifth of pre-primary centres report a higher share of children with special needs. The share of centres with many such children is also small in centres for children under age 3. As noted in Chapter 2, there may be a number of reasons for these variations, such as differences in countries’ policies concerning the inclusion of those children and the identification and definition of special needs (see e.g. Cullen (2003[68])).

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Figure 4.9. Concentration in centres of children with different characteristics
Percentage of ECEC centres that serve 11% or more of children with the following characteristics, according to leaders
Figure 4.9. Concentration in centres of children with different characteristics

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information. Notes: Centre leaders may not always be familiar with the precise national or international definition of refugees and/or special needs. This may lead to discrepancies between leader reports and administrative data.

Countries are ranked in descending order of the share of 11% or more of children whose first language is different from the language(s) used in the centre.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Database (Table D.4.6).

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The ability of staff to meet the needs of children can be influenced not only by their level of education and training but also by the availability and the stability of staff human resources at the centre. TALIS Starting Strong provides an opportunity to explore the indicators concerning the composition and roles of staff at the centre, the number of staff per child, and staff attrition across participating countries.

Composition of staff in centres

The roles and composition of staff in centres can create different working environments. TALIS Starting Strong asked leaders to report on the number of leaders, teachers, assistants and other staff in their centres. Participating countries vary with regard to the different staff roles common in their centres (Figure 4.10). Although variations in working time of individual staff cannot be captured, TALIS Starting Strong provides an indication of the types of staff with whom children interact in their centres.

Although national terms vary and more fine-grained divisions of responsibilities may be in place on the ground, the internationally defined roles of teachers and assistants are relatively clearly reflected in leaders’ reports on their centre’s staff in Chile, Denmark (with low response rates), Germany, Israel’s pre-primary sector, Korea and Norway. Teachers are defined as having the most responsibility for the group of children in the classroom or playroom, while assistants have a more supporting role. However, in Iceland, national staff roles cannot be clearly distinguished according to those two international staff role divisions, and in Japan, Turkey and centres for children under age 3 in Israel, there are no (or too few) assistants (corresponding to the international definition used during the identification of staff members) eligible for participation in TALIS Starting Strong (see Reader’s Guide). In those countries, leaders’ reports on the breakdown of those roles should, therefore, be treated with caution. Teachers in Israel’s pre-primary education centres are, due to the small and uniform size of their centres, simultaneously the leaders of their settings (see Box 4.2).

When comparing leaders’ reports of the share of assistants to the share of staff identified as either leaders or teachers, (i.e. the individuals who have the most responsibility for the centre or a group of children), Chile, Germany, Israel and Norway, for example, report a roughly similar size of the two groups in pre-primary centres (Figure 4.10). The reported share of assistants is considerably lower in pre-primary centres in Japan, Korea and Turkey and Israel’s centres for children under age 3. Chile and Turkey stand out, with centre leaders reporting more than one leader on average per centre (3 in Chile and 1.6 in Turkey); Denmark (with low response rates) also follows this pattern. This indicates that leadership functions might be explicitly shared by multiple individuals, some of whom may also be taking on duties as staff working directly with children.

There is also great variation across countries in the distribution of other staff roles. In Chile, there is a relatively high number of staff other than leaders, teachers and assistants, such as staff working with individual children, staff for special tasks (such as leading special activities like physical education or music) or interns. In Denmark (with low response rates), Germany and Norway, the total number and distribution of staff does not vary across pre-primary centres and centres for children under age 3, which is consistent with the integration of these two levels of education in their ECEC systems. In contrast, Israel has the smallest total number of staff in pre-primary centres, while there are considerably more staff per centre in centres for children under age 3 (Figure 4.10; Table D.4.7). This difference aligns with the fact that those centres are part of the same system in Germany and Norway, while Israel’s provision is marked by different governance depending on the level concerned and a unique system of pre-primary education centres (see Box 4.2)

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Figure 4.10. Human resources in centres
Share of teachers, leaders, assistants and other staff in ECEC centres, according to leaders
Figure 4.10. Human resources in centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: In Iceland, national staff roles cannot be clearly distinguished according to the international staff role divisions of “teacher” and “assistant”. In Japan, Turkey and centres for children under age 3 in Israel, there are no (or too few) assistants (corresponding to the international definition used during the identification of staff members) eligible for participation in TALIS Starting Strong (see Reader’s Guide). The breakdown of those roles reported by leaders should therefore be treated with caution. There are no leaders reported for Israel's pre-primary education centres, as centres correspond to individual classrooms or playrooms, for which the roles of “leader” and “teacher” cannot be separated.

Countries are ranked in the average number of teachers and leaders per centre.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table D.4.7).

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Box 4.4. Number of staff and children in the centre

TALIS Starting Strong asks leaders to indicate the number of staff in different categories working in their ECEC centres (leaders, teachers, assistants, staff for individual children, staff for special tasks, interns and other staff) and the number of girls and boys enrolled in the centre.

This information is used to derive several indicators describing the staff and children in the centre: 1) the share of different types of staff working at the centre (i.e. leaders, teachers, assistants and other staff); 2) the number of teachers and leaders compared to the total number of staff at the centre; 3) the number of children at the centre; 4) the number of staff per child at the centre.

The number of staff per child at the centre refers to the total number of staff working in a centre, regardless of their role, divided by the total number of children enrolled. Because the number of staff per individual child is very low, when specific examples are cited for comparative purposes, they are presented as “number of staff per ten children”. If the centre covers ISCED level 02 and provision for children under the age of 3, children and staff at both levels are considering in those numbers.

These indicators differ from administrative data capturing similar constructs, for instance because TALIS Starting Strong data does not allow differentiation between part-time and full-time employment at the centre level. Furthermore, regulations often refer to staffing requirements at the group or classroom/playroom level, rather than for the centre as a whole. Additional details on the computation of these indicators can be found in the Reader’s Guide and Annex C.

Number of staff in centres

The average number of leaders, teachers, assistants and other staff working in ECEC centres reported by centre leaders varies greatly across countries. Iceland stands out as having the largest average number of staff per centre (Figure 4.11). The average number of staff per centre is also comparatively high in Chile, Japan and Norway. The differences in the average number of staff per centre across countries only loosely parallel the differences in the average number of children per centre. Iceland tends to have large centres on average and a relatively high number of staff, while the average size of centres is even larger in Japan, but the average number of staff is not higher.

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Figure 4.11. Average number of staff and children in centres
Average number of staff and children in pre-primary centres and centres for children under age 3, according to leaders
Figure 4.11. Average number of staff and children in centres

Note: In Iceland, national staff roles cannot be clearly distinguished according to the international staff role divisions of “teacher” and “assistant”. In Japan, Turkey and centres for children under age 3 in Israel, there are no (or too few) assistants (corresponding to the international definition used during the identification of staff members) eligible for participation in TALIS Starting Strong (see Reader’s Guide). The breakdown of those roles reported by leaders should therefore be treated with caution. There are no leaders reported for Israel's pre-primary education centres, as centres correspond to individual classrooms or playrooms, for which the roles of “leader” and “teacher” cannot be separated.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Tables D.4.5 and D.4.7).

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Using leader reports to compute the number of staff per child in the centre (see Box 4.4), TALIS Starting Strong shows major differences across participating countries. “Number of staff per child” refers to the total number of staff working in a centre, regardless of their role, divided by the total number of children enrolled. Because the number of staff per individual child is very low, for comparative purposes, data are presented as “number of staff per ten children”. The average number of staff per ten children is around two in pre-primary centres in Germany, Israel, Japan and Turkey, while it is above four in Chile and Norway. Germany and Norway have a similar but slightly more favourable number of staff per child in their centres for children under age 3. In Israel, there are more staff per child in centres for children under age 3 than in pre-primary centres (Figure 4.12). Although these statistics do not consider differences in part-time and full-time employment, they do suggest major differences in how many staff shape children’s daily ECEC experience and provide an indication of the average level of human resources available to support each child’s learning, development and well-being.

By computing differences, it is possible to examine whether the variation within countries of the number of staff per child can be explained by a number of factors: 1) rural location versus urban location; 2) the extent to which leaders report that there are public spaces available for children to play safely; 3) the size of centres; 4) whether or not the centres are located in the same place as primary schools; and 5) whether or not there is 11% or more of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes in the centre.

Across countries, TALIS Starting Strong results show that the number of staff per child is significantly different between pre-primary centres in the largest quarter of centre size as compared to the lowest quarter of centre size in all countries except Denmark (low response rates) and in centres for children under age 3 in Israel (Figure 4.13). These findings suggest that having more children at the centre is not proportionally compensated by increased numbers of staff. Yet, regardless of centre size, one staff member may assume a key role for the entire centre, for example in the case of leaders, contributing to having a smaller number of staff per child in bigger centres.

In Chile and Iceland, the number of staff per child is lower in centres located in towns or cities of more than 15 000 people than in centres in more rural locations. In contrast, in Turkey, the number of staff per child is higher in centres located in towns or cities of more than 15 000 people (Figure 4.12). However, in most countries, this number tends to be similar across centres.

Other factors do not appear to be linked to the number of staff per child across countries. In particular, centres with a large percentage of children from disadvantaged homes do not, on average, have a different number of staff per child than centres with a smaller percentage of these children.

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Figure 4.12. Number of staff per ten children in centres, by centre characteristics
Statistically significant differences in the average number of staff per ten children in centres related to centres characteristics, results based on leader reports
Figure 4.12. Number of staff per ten children in centres, by centre characteristics

1. “City” refers to locations with more than 15 000 people, and “rural area” refers to locations with up to 15 000 people.

2. Refers to centres for which leaders either “agree/strongly agree” or “disagree/strongly disagree” that there are public places for children to play safely in the neighbourhood.

3. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of children), while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of children).

4. “Co-located with school” refers to centres that share their location with a primary school.

5. “Socio-economically disadvantaged homes” refers to homes lacking the basic necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care. A “high” share is considered to be 11% or more, a “low” share less than or equal to 10%.

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Note: Missing data are due to small sample sizes for the analysis.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Database (Table D.4.8).

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Figure 4.13. Number of staff per ten children in centres, according to centre size
Average number of staff per ten children in ECEC centres, by centre size quartiles, according to leaders
Figure 4.13. Number of staff per ten children in centres, according to centre size

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: Statistically significant differences are marked in blue.

Countries are ranked in ascending order of the number of staff per ten children in the top quarter in terms of centre size.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database.

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Qualified staff can offer educational and organisational strategies that help centres provide better learning and working environments and, in turn, attract other qualified staff (Barros et al., 2018[45]; Sammons, 2010[46]). Understanding the distribution of staff resources across centres is informative for ensuring equity and quality in the ECEC system. This section puts staff resources (discussed in more detail in Chapter 3) in context by exploring differences across varying characteristics of centres.

Staff qualifications at the centre level can be described in TALIS Starting Strong through the share of staff reporting that they have high education levels (at least ISCED level 6, a bachelor’s degree or equivalent) compared to those with lower levels of educational attainment. By computing the differences, it is possible to examine whether the variation in the percentage of highly educated staff across centres can be related to the following characteristics of centres: 1) rural location versus urban location; 2) the extent to which leaders report that there are public spaces available for children to play safely; 3) the size of centres; and 4) whether or not the centres are located in the same place as primary schools.

In Chile and Israel, the percentage of staff with high qualifications (i.e. equivalent to or above a bachelor’s degree) is higher in pre-primary centres co-located with primary schools, compared to centres that are not, although this co-location is less common in Israel than in Chile (Figure 4.14). Also in Chile, the share of highly qualified staff is higher in centres with fewer staff per child, suggesting that in centres in which there are more staff per child, the qualifications of the additional staff tend to be lower, compared to centres with fewer staff per child. This may indicate a potential trade-off or compensation between employing more staff and employing highly qualified staff. Similarly, in Israel for both levels of ECEC, larger centres tend to have a smaller share of highly qualified staff. Other than these differences, the distribution of qualified staff does not vary consistently with centre’s geographical location or neighbourhood (Figure 4.14).

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Figure 4.14. Staff's educational attainment, by centre characteristics
Statistically significant differences in the average percentage of highly qualified staff in centres related to centres characteristics, results based on staff reports
Figure 4.14. Staff's educational attainment, by centre characteristics

1. Education categories are based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 2011).

2. “City” refers to locations with more than 15 000 people, and “rural area” refers to locations with up to 15 000 people.

3. Refers to centres for which leaders either “agree/strongly agree” or “disagree/strongly disagree” that there are public places for children to play safely in the neighbourhood.

4. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of children), while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of children).

5. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of staff per child while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country who register the highest number of staff per child).

6. “Co-located with school” refers to centres that share their location with a primary school.

7. “Socio-economically disadvantaged homes” refers to homes lacking the basic necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care. A “high” share is considered to be 11% or more, a “low” share less than or equal to 10%.

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Note: Missing data are due to small sample sizes for the analysis.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Database (Table D.4.9).

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Staff leaving their centres

The share of staff leaving their ECEC centres matters for the stability of relations among staff and between staff and children. Leaders participating in TALIS Starting Strong reported on the number of staff who left the ECEC centre in the year prior to the Survey, which can be related to the total number of staff at the centre at the time leaders responded to the Survey (see also Annex C).

In Iceland, Japan and Korea, leaders reported that approximately one staff per every five staff members at the time of the Survey left the ECEC centre in the previous year. In Israel’s centres for children under age 3, the proportion is almost one-third. However, in the rest of the countries, in both pre-primary centres and centres for children under age 3, only around one staff member per ten current staff left their centre in the previous year (Figure 4.15).

Looking beyond averages, in many countries, there are also a sizable number of centres with either very high shares of staff leaving or no staff leaving at all. In Chile, Denmark (with low response rates), Germany, Israel, Norway and Turkey, no staff left in the previous year in at least a quarter of pre-primary centres. This is also true across all countries for centres for children under age 3. At the same time, in a quarter of the centres in Iceland, Israel (at both levels of ECEC), Japan and Korea, at least one in five staff members left in the previous year (Figure 4.15).

There are few rural-urban variations with regard to staff leaving their centres. In Germany, centres for children under age 3 in towns and cities (over 15 000 people) show higher proportions of staff having left in the previous year than centres in more rural areas (see Table D.4.11). Opposite associations appear in Turkey, where centres in rural areas or small towns (15 000 people or less) have higher proportions of staff who left the centre in the previous year.

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Figure 4.15. Share of staff leaving their early childhood education and care centres
Average share of staff who left their ECEC centre in the previous year, according to leaders
Figure 4.15. Share of staff leaving their early childhood education and care centres

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

Notes: The percentage of staff who left the ECEC centre in the past year is calculated as the number of staff who permanently left the centre in the previous year divided by the total number of staff at the centre at the time of data collection. See Annex C for more information.

Countries are ranked in descending order of the percentage of staff who left the ECEC centre in the previous year.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table D.4.10).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011420

Staff practices in ECEC centres can foster children’s learning, development and well-being when they are of high quality (Anders, 2015[69]; Barros et al., 2016[9]; Howes et al., 2008[70]). TALIS Starting Strong uses a rich set of indicators of process quality, including practices used by staff at the centre level that are at the core of children’s’ development and well-being: facilitating emotional development; prosocial behaviour; literacy development; and numeracy development (see Chapter 2 for a discussion of indicators of process quality). TALIS Starting Strong also gathers information on ECEC staff practices to facilitate parent/guardian engagement that are known from the research literature to enhance children’s development and well-being.

Staff practices, and overall equity and quality in the ECEC system, can be affected by contextual features, such as centre location in urban or rural areas (Anderson and Mikesell, 2017[4]; Maher, Frestedt and Grace, 2008[5]; Hu et al., 2016[6]; Hu et al., 2014[7]), co-location with primary schools (Pianta et al., 2005[26]; Slot, Lerkkanen and Leseman, 2015[27]) or centre size (OECD, 2018[2]). Staff practices with children and their parents are framed by social, cultural and organisational aspects that influence their interpretation, occurrence and effectiveness (McCoy et al., 2016[71]). TALIS Starting Strong provides an opportunity to contextualise process-quality practices at centres by examining the associations between staff practices and a set of centre characteristics. Understanding specific contextual influences of staff practices helps to identify whether there is a need for targeted approaches or (re)allocation of resources to optimise equity.

Regression analyses were performed to see how the different dimensions of process quality vary according to centre characteristics, namely the urban and physical location of the centre and centre size. The centre characteristics of interest can relate to one another and to other staff characteristics. Thus, the analyses were performed through an estimation of the associations of interest, holding all other characteristics constant (see Annex C). This way, it is possible to understand whether a specific centre feature is important for process quality, even after accounting for the effects of other centre or staff characteristics.

Centre characteristics and process quality

The literature suggests that several centre characteristics can be linked to process quality. TALIS Starting Strong makes it possible to isolate the effect of different centre characteristics (e.g. geographical location, co-location with a primary school and centre size) from effects of other factors (e.g. the role of staff in the target group, the number of staff per child in the centre and the percentage of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes) to explore their link to process quality. As summarised in Table 4.2, associations between centre characteristics and process quality are often specific to individual countries.

Location of the centre and dimensions of process quality

Staff practices in centres located in urban environments can differ from those in centres in rural areas. TALIS Starting Strong results show that there are differences in process quality according to geographic location only in Norway in centres for children under age 3. In Norway, in centres at this level, staff in urban areas report more use of practices to facilitate children’s prosocial behaviour than staff in rural areas. In other countries, practices related to process quality do not differ by centre geographic location.

The literature suggests that centres located in schools can provide higher process quality than independently functioning centres, possibly because of greater alignment on curriculum, pedagogical practices or culture between the ECEC centres and primary schools (Pianta et al., 2005[26]; Slot, Lerkkanen and Leseman, 2015[27]). However, TALIS Starting Strong results show that overall, when other factors are accounted for, there is no consistent link across countries between co-location with a primary school and staff practices. In pre-primary education centres, co-location is associated with more support for literacy development in Iceland, but with less support for parent/guardian engagement in Korea (see Table 4.2).

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Table 4.2. Relationship between process quality practices and centre characteristics
Results based on staff reports
Table 4.2. Relationship between process quality practices and centre characteristics

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Notes: Results from the OLS regression of each process quality indicator on centres’ urban/rural and physical location and centre size (quartiles). Other variables in the regression include: staff educational attainment; experience; role in the target group; working hours; contractual status; number of staff per child in the centre (quartiles); percentage of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes in the centre; and public/private management. See Annex C for more details on variables included in the regression model.

Statistically significant coefficients are marked in light blue (negative coefficient) or dark blue (positive coefficient) (see Annex C).

It is not possible to compare results for literacy development and emotional development across countries for centres serving children under age 3, due to the statistical properties of these indicators (see Annex C). Missing data are due to small sample sizes for the analysis.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Table D.4.12).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011439

Centre size and dimensions of process quality

Centre size (in terms of number of children) can affect the working conditions of staff, which can in turn affect their practices (Ho, Lee and Teng, 2016[37]). TALIS Starting Strong results show that, in pre-primary centres in Iceland and in centres for children under age 3 in Germany, staff working in smaller centres (25th percentile) report using more practices to facilitate children’s prosocial behaviour. In centres for children under age 3 in Denmark (with low response rates) staff in smaller centres report more practices to facilitate engagement of parents/guardians and numeracy development than staff working in larger centres (75th percentile). In contrast, in Israel, both in centres for children under age 3 and at pre-primary levels, staff in larger centres report more use of practices to facilitate children’s numeracy development, although the centre size in Israel’s pre-primary settings does not vary as much as in the other countries or in centres serving children under age 3. No other statistically significant associations between centre size and process quality emerged (see Table 4.2).

Centre characteristics and co-operation and transitions between pre-primary and primary education

In addition to process-quality practices in the centre, a strong connection between ECEC centres and communities is central to high-quality provision. Co-operation between ECEC centres, families and the broader community contributes to enhancing the consistency and coherence of practices to support children’s development. Co-operation between ECEC centres and other community services can also be fundamental for smooth transitions to primary school, which can influence children’s school trajectories and future positive outcomes (OECD, 2017[23]).

Communication with other centres in the local community

Co-operation with other centre leaders can promote innovation and allow broader professional development opportunities for staff. TALIS Starting Strong asks leaders how often they engage in communication and co-operation with other ECEC services in the local community. Across countries, communication with staff and leaders from other centres occurs at least monthly for the majority of participating centres. This is true for pre-primary centres and centres for younger children (Figure 4.16).

Communication of ECEC centres with staff/leaders from other centres is positively related to being in a city rather than in a rural area (Iceland), the quality of the neighbourhood environment (Israel for pre-primary centres) and a larger number of staff per child (Japan) (Figure 4.16). Being a large rather than a small centre is positively associated with communication practices in Iceland and in centres for children under age 3 in Germany; however, in Japan these communication practices are more common in smaller centres compared with larger centres. Co-location with a primary school appears to be associated with more communication practices in Japan, but less of these practices in Chile. In centres serving children under age 3 in Israel, a greater concentration of children from disadvantaged homes is associated with fewer of these communication practices.

Centre characteristics and practices to facilitate transitions to primary education

Ensuring a smooth transition for children to primary schools is an important task for ECEC centres and primary schools (OECD, 2017[23]; Sim et al., 2019[1]). Well-prepared transitions can help ensure that the benefits of ECEC endure and can improve equity in educational success. This implies that ECEC centres and schools should work together, but it is also linked to strong co-operation between stakeholders, such as families, boards of education, government offices and local authorities (Rimm-Kaufman and Pianta, 2000[72]). In TALIS Starting Strong, centre leaders report on the transition practices that ECEC centres put in place. Overall, a number of transition practices are organised with the co-operation of ECEC centres, although there is variation across countries in the share of centres that provide them.

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Figure 4.16. Communication with staff/leaders from other centres, by centre characteristics
Results based on leader reports
Figure 4.16. Communication with staff/leaders from other centres, by centre characteristics

1. “City” refers to locations with more than 15 000 people, and “rural area” refers to locations with up to 15 000 people.

2. Refers to centres for which leaders either “agree/strongly agree” or “disagree/strongly disagree” that there are public places for children to play safely in the neighbourhood.

3. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of children), while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of children).

4. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of staff per child) while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of staff per child).

5. “Co-located with school” refers to centres that share their location with a primary school.

6. “Socio-economically disadvantaged homes” refers to homes lacking the basic necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care. A “high” share is considered to be 11% or more, a “low” share less than or equal to 10%.

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Note: Missing data are due to small sample sizes for the analysis.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Database (Table D.4.13).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011458

Regarding communication with primary school teachers, in all countries with sufficient data, more leaders of pre-primary centres report that this practice is taking place in their centre at least monthly when their centres are co-located with schools, compared to centres that are not co-located with primary schools (Figure 4.17). For these countries, it seems that co-location with primary schools facilitates communication across levels. In Chile, Iceland and Turkey, the percentage of leaders who report that in their centre there is at least monthly communication with primary school teachers is higher in rural areas (locations with up to 15 000 people) than in urban areas (with more than 15 000 people). The percentage of leaders reporting that they frequently use these practices is larger in small centres than in larger ones in Iceland, Korea and Turkey, while in Chile, these practices are more broadly used in large centres than in smaller centres. In Iceland and Norway, these practices are used more when there are more staff per child in the centre. In Chile, Iceland, Israel and Turkey, a larger percentage of leaders report that they communicate at least monthly with primary school teachers when centres have a larger share of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes.

Regarding meetings with primary school staff, in Chile, Denmark (with low response rates), Germany, Iceland, Japan, Norway and Turkey, the majority of pre-primary centres hold such meetings (Figure 4.18). Regarding the provision of activities for parents or guardians to understand the transition issues their children may face (e.g. sessions about primary education, joint meetings with parents or guardians of primary school children), in six countries (Chile, Denmark [with low response rates], Germany, Korea, Norway and Turkey), more than half of pre-primary centres provide such activities, suggesting that parents are usually involved in practices that prepare children for the transition to primary school (Figure 4.19).

For holding meetings with primary school staff and activities for parents or guardians related to transitions, TALIS Starting Strong also shows associations between co-location with primary school. In Chile, Israel, Japan, Korea and Turkey, the percentages of centres that hold meetings with primary school staff are higher in centres co-located with a primary school (Figure 4.18). In Chile, Israel, Japan and Turkey, co-location is also positively associated with the provision of activities for parents or guardians (Figure 4.19), indicating a broader difference in practices. Co-location is relatively common in Chile, Korea and Turkey (see Figure 4.4). Factors other than co-location show fewer consistent linkages to transition practices across countries.

The co-location of ECEC centres with a primary school can facilitate the process of co-operation between ECEC centres and primary school staff, by making co-ordination less time-consuming. But ECEC centres and schools that do not share the same building may develop other strategies, such as initiatives to share child development information, organising joint training or creating collaborative professional learning groups (OECD, 2017[23]).

With regard to other specific transition practices, in Denmark (with low response rates), Germany, Iceland, Japan and Turkey, it is also very common to invite primary school teachers to observe the centre practices, reported by at least half of pre-primary leaders across those countries (Table D.4.16). Only a small proportion of centres work with local authorities to develop district-wide transition programmes across participating countries. However, this is a common practice in Denmark (with low response rates) and Norway, where it is used by almost nine in ten pre-primary centres, and also widespread in Turkey, where it is used by almost half of centres.

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Figure 4.17. Communication between pre-primary centres and primary school teachers
Results based on pre-primary education leader reports
Figure 4.17. Communication between pre-primary centres and primary school teachers

1. “City” refers to locations with more than 15 000 people, and “rural area” refers to locations with up to 15 000 people.

2. Refers to centres for which leaders either “agree/strongly agree” or “disagree/strongly disagree” that there are public places for children to play safely in the neighbourhood.

3. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of children), while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of children).

4. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of staff per child) while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of staff per child).

5. “Co-located with school” refers to centres that share their location with a primary school.

6. “Socio-economically disadvantaged homes” refers to homes lacking the basic necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care. A “high” share is considered to be 11% or more, a “low” share less than or equal to 10%.

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Note: Missing data are due to small sample sizes for the analysis.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Database (Table D.4.14).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011477

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Figure 4.18. Transition practices by centre characteristics: Hold meetings with primary school staff
Results based on pre-primary education leader reports
Figure 4.18. Transition practices by centre characteristics: Hold meetings with primary school staff

1. “City” refers to locations with more than 15 000 people, and “rural area” refers to locations with up to 15 000 people.

2. Refers to centres for which leaders either “agree/strongly agree” or “disagree/strongly disagree” that there are public places for children to play safely in the neighbourhood.

3. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of children), while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of children).

4. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of staff per child) while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of staff per child).

5. “Co-located with school” refers to centres that share their location with a primary school.

6. “Socio-economically disadvantaged homes” refers to homes lacking the basic necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care. A “high” share is considered to be 11% or more, a “low” share less than or equal to 10%.

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Note: Missing data are due to small sample sizes for the analysis.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Database (Table D.4.15).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011496

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Figure 4.19. Transition practices by centre characteristics: Provide activities for parents or guardians to understand transition issues, by centre characteristics
Results based on leader reports
Figure 4.19. Transition practices by centre characteristics: Provide activities for parents or guardians to understand transition issues, by centre characteristics

1. “City” refers to locations with more than 15 000 people, and “rural area” refers to locations with up to 15 000 people.

2. Refers to centres for which leaders either “agree/strongly agree” or “disagree/strongly disagree” that there are public places for children to play safely in the neighbourhood.

3. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of children), while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of children).

4. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of staff per child) while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of staff per child).

5. “Co-located with school” refers to centres that share their location with a primary school.

6. “Socio-economically disadvantaged homes” refers to homes lacking the basic necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care. A “high” share is considered to be 11% or more, a “low” share less than or equal to 10%.

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Note: Missing data are due to small sample sizes for the analysis.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 Database (Table D.4.17).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011515

copy the linklink copied!Equity of early childhood education and care centres

Several countries participating in TALIS Starting Strong have many ECEC centres with sizable groups of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, with a first language different from the language(s) used in the centre and/or with special needs. This means that ECEC can be a stepping stone for giving a strong start to all children. But to fulfil this promise, centres need to be able to build on the strengths of all children and meet their needs. When looking at the extent to which the structural environment is facilitating or hampering this task, a mixed picture emerges.

Socio-economic equity: Relationship between centre characteristics and characteristics of the children at the centre

TALIS Starting Strong data provide an opportunity to investigate whether there are differences in contextual indicators in centres depending on the concentration of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes. In most countries, the proportion of centres with a large share of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes is similar across rural and urban areas. But there are some exceptions. In Germany, larger urban areas have more pre-primary education centres with high rates of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes compared to more rural areas. This is also the case in centres for children under age 3 in Germany, Israel and Norway (Table 4.3).

In pre-primary centres in Israel, children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes tend to be concentrated in centres in neighbourhoods where leaders report less availability of public spaces for children to play safely. This suggests a less favourable context for learning and development. However, in Norway centre leaders at both levels of ECEC more often agree that there is availability of public spaces for children to play safely in the neighbourhood when they serve more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes (Table 4.3).

For ECEC to facilitate the development of all children regardless of their socio-economic background, one approach could be to raise structural quality standards for the centres serving large proportions of children from less privileged homes. In practice, structural indicators like the number of staff per child at the centre level do not systematically vary with the share of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes. However, in pre-primary education settings in Germany and centres serving children under age 3 in Israel and Norway, larger centres tend to serve more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes than smaller centres (Table 4.3).

TALIS Starting Strong results also suggest that there is a similar distribution of staff with higher qualification levels (i.e. a bachelor’s degree or equivalent or higher) across centres with low and high rates of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes (see Figure 4.14). With regard to links to staff working conditions, the Survey finds that the share of staff leaving their positions is similar across centres with low and high shares of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes across countries. However, in Iceland, the number of staff who permanently left the centre within the previous year is significantly lower in centres where the share of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes is 11% or higher (compared to 10% or less). The opposite relation is found for pre-primary centres in Turkey. Thus, the Survey data does not suggest systematically greater levels of instability of staff contacts in centres with more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes (Table D.4.11).

Overall, there is little indication that the structural conditions of ECEC centres exacerbate inequities, but there is also no indication that countries systematically provide enhanced structural conditions for children who may need them most.

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Table 4.3. Difference in percentage of centres with 11% of more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, by centre characteristics
Results based on leader reports
Table 4.3. Difference in percentage of centres with 11% of more children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, by centre characteristics

1. “Socio-economically disadvantaged homes” refers to homes lacking the basic necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care. A “high” share is considered to be 11% or more, a “low” share less than or equal to 10%.

2. “City” refers to locations with more than 15 000 people, and “rural area” refers to locations with up to 15 000 people.

3. Refers to centres for which leaders either “agree/strongly agree” or “disagree/strongly disagree” that there are public places for children to play safely in the neighbourhood.

4. Quarters refer to 25% of ECEC centres inside a country. The lowest quarter refers to the 25% of ECEC centres for which the statistics obtained are the lowest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the lowest number of children), while the top quarter refers to the 25% of centres for which the statistics are the highest (i.e. the 25% of centres within a country that register the highest number of children).

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Note: Missing data are due to small sample sizes for the analysis.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011534

Share of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes and dimensions of process quality, co-operation and transition practices

Providing high-quality ECEC practices is a key policy lever to mitigate social inequalities (OECD, 2017[8]). There is research evidence that staff can effectively support children’s learning and development through the use of high-quality practices (OECD, 2011[21]; Sylva et al., 2004[73]). But the literature has also found cultural and social barriers that make access to high-quality provision difficult for disadvantaged families (Kuger et al., 2015[30]; Leu and Schelle, 2009[31]; LoCassale-Crouch et al., 2007[32]; Slot, Lerkkanen and Leseman, 2015[27]; Slot, 2018[3]; Tonyan and Howes, 2003[33]). Co-operation between the ECEC centre and the wider community can be particularly important for children in socio-economically disadvantaged circumstances, contributing to addressing the multiple needs of families (Van Tuijl and Leseman, 2013[24]; Weiss, Caspe and Lopez, 2008[25]) and facilitating transitions from ECEC to school (OECD, 2017[23]). TALIS Starting Strong provides an opportunity to compare staff practices and centre practices that facilitate co-operation and transitions, according to the rates of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, using regression analysis (see Annex C).

Accounting for other factors, in pre-primary centres in Chile and Germany, staff report fewer practices to facilitate emotional development in their centres when there are higher shares of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, compared to centres with lower shares of such children (see Table D.4.12). In Chile and Japan, this is also the case for staff reports of practices to facilitate prosocial behaviour and, only in Chile, for practices to support the engagement of parents/guardians. In Denmark (with low response rates), staff report more practices to facilitate literacy development when there are higher shares of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes, compared to centres with lower shares of such children. However, in most countries, staff report that process-quality practices are similar across centres with low and high shares of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes.

Leaders of pre-primary centres in Chile, Iceland, Israel, and Turkey with higher rates of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes report more communication with primary school teachers, compared to centres with lower shares of such children. Furthermore, a higher share of centres in Chile and Israel with high rates of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes hold meetings with primary school staff (Figure 4.17; Figure 4.18).

Diversity activities, practices and beliefs in ECEC centres

Staff practices adapted to children’s diversity can contribute to more favourable opportunities for children’s growth and well-being (Melhuish et al., 2015[74]; Sammons et al., 2002[75]). But within the context of ECEC, several aspects can affect how professionals deal with diversity and inclusiveness. TALIS Starting Strong provides an opportunity to examine whether reported staff diversity practices differ depending on the characteristics of the centre. Two indicators introduced in Chapter 2 are considered: 1) staff reports on the extent to which they use books and pictures featuring people from a variety of ethnic and cultural groups; and 2) the extent to which children play with toys and artefacts from cultures other than the ethnic majority.

In Denmark (with low response rates), Germany and Iceland, staff report more use of practices related to diversity in pre-primary centres located in towns and cities (more than 15 000 people), compared to centres in rural areas (15 000 people or less) (Tables D.4.18 and D.4.19). Also in Germany, where centres in towns are more likely to serve a large percentage of children from disadvantaged homes (Table 4.3), in centres for younger children located in towns and cities, staff report more frequently using books and pictures featuring people from a variety of ethnic and cultural groups than staff in centres in rural areas (Table D.4.18). In contrast, in Israel, staff in centres for children under age 3 report more frequent use of books and pictures featuring people from a variety of ethnic and cultural groups in rural areas than in towns and cities. In other countries, the use of diversity practices is similar across geographic locations.

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Figure 4.20. Staff use of diversity practices, by characteristics of children in the centre
Results based on staff reports
Figure 4.20. Staff use of diversity practices, by characteristics of children in the centre

1. “Socio-economically disadvantaged homes” refers to homes lacking the basic necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care. A “high” share is considered to be 11% or more, a “low” share less than or equal to 10%.

2. A “high” share of children whose first language is different from the language(s) used at the ECEC centre is considered to be 11% or more, a “low” share less than or equal to 10%.

* Estimates for sub-groups and estimated differences between sub-groups need to be interpreted with care. See Annex B for more information.

** Low response rates in the survey may result in bias in the estimates reported and limit comparability of the data.

Note: Differences are reported if statistically significant for at least one of the two practices. There are no cases in which differences for both practices are statistically significant for a country and go in different directions.

Source: TALIS Starting Strong 2018 database (Tables D.4.18 and D.4.19).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934011553

TALIS Starting Strong suggests that practices in support of diversity tend to be found in centres that also show a greater share of children from diverse backgrounds (i.e. responding to the differences in the groups of children they serve). In pre-primary centres in Chile, Germany and Iceland, and in centres for children under age 3 in Germany, the percentage of staff reporting use of books/pictures and toys/artefacts from a variety of ethnic and cultural groups is higher for staff working with a larger percentage of children whose first language is different from the language(s) used in the centre. Similar patterns are observed at both levels of ECEC in Denmark (with low response rates) and in centres for children under age 3 in Norway, with more use of such materials occurring in centres serving a larger percentage of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes as well (Figure 4.20). Yet, in pre-primary centres in Israel, the percentage of staff using such practices is higher in centres with low percentages of children whose first language is different from the language(s) used in the centre. In centres for children under age 3 in Israel, the percentage of staff using such practices is higher in centres with low percentages of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes.

copy the linklink copied!Conclusion and policy implications

This chapter presents findings from TALIS Starting Strong on centre characteristics (i.e. where they are, what staff they employ and what children they serve). It explores ways in which centre characteristics are associated with staff characteristics and practices in the centre.

The data suggest that larger centres tend to have less favourable numbers of staff per child. However in most countries, such structural characteristics of centres vary little, for instance, between centres in rural locations and those in cities or between centres with more or fewer children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes. Centres with larger groups of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes do not seem to receive more human resources, but there is evidence that, in many countries, children whose first language is different from the language(s) used in the centre are in centres with practices that take the diversity of children’s backgrounds into consideration.

In several countries, co-location with primary schools is associated with more transition-related practices, such as co-operation with primary education staff and organisation of activities to help parents understand the transition issues, and there are also some instances where such pre-primary education centres tend to have more highly educated staff.

These insights provide food for thought for further policy development. Policy approaches can include:

  1. 1. Ensuring that centres serving children from less favourable socio-economic backgrounds have the human resources to provide the best possible support to their development: Those children tend to be in centres where leaders report less availability of public spaces where it is safe for children to play, indicating a less favourable context for learning and development. The Survey does not suggest that centres with a higher concentration of children from socio-economically disadvantaged homes consistently have less qualified staff or are otherwise of poorer structural quality. However, there is also no evidence of systematic measures to ensure that such centres receive additional or better qualified staff to support equal opportunities for children against the backdrop of potentially less favourable home and neighbourhood environments. As discussed in Chapter 3, ECEC staff qualifications matter, for instance, for their use of adaptive practices. Policy makers can consider whether structural conditions can be more sensitive to centres’ specific contexts.

  2. 2. Ensuring that larger centres have sufficient staff to support children’s development across all domains: The number of staff per child in ECEC centres becomes less favourable as the size of the centre increases across countries. There are certainly economies of scale to be had without jeopardising quality, and in both levels of ECEC in Israel, staff in larger centres even provide more support for numeracy development. However, in pre-primary centres in Iceland and centres for children under age 3 in Germany, TALIS Starting Strong data also suggests that there is less support for prosocial behaviour as centres get bigger. Children’s daily experiences depend greatly on the number of staff available to engage with them. As many countries are under pressure to create more places in ECEC than ever, caution is warranted to ensure that quality is not being watered down in this process.

  3. 3. Encouraging co-operation between staff and leaders of ECEC centres and schools to facilitate children’s transitions from pre-primary to primary education: Transitions are particularly important for children who have less support outside of their educational settings as they take the important step from ECEC to the different learning environment of primary schooling. Across several countries, there is evidence that co-location of ECEC centres with primary school is linked with greater collaboration between staff at both levels and with further engagement of parents and guardians. However, in all countries except Turkey, only a minority of centres is co-located with primary schools. This implies that it is even more important to encourage co-operation between staff and leaders of ECEC centres and schools through a variety of approaches and to train staff to engage with parents to prepare children for those transitions. When building new ECEC centres, co-location with a primary school can be one of the options to consider for facilitating children’s transition from ECEC to primary school, while ensuring age-appropriate practice across levels.

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4. Structural features of early childhood education and care centres and quality