2. The development of the early childhood education and care workforce in Luxembourg

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) staff are fundamental in supporting quality in ECEC systems. ECEC staff can profoundly shape children’s everyday interactions, which are likely to influence their development, learning and well-being (OECD, 2021[1]; 2018[2]).

Luxembourg has made important efforts in further professionalising its ECEC workforce in the past ten years, particularly in the non-formal sector. Qualifications requirements for staff working in this sector were introduced in 2013 (see Box 1.3). In 2016, the National Youth Service (Service national de la jeunesse, SNJ) was assigned responsibility for fostering quality in the non-formal sector. Since then, significant investments have been made to foster quality in the non-formal sector, including increased funding to raise the quality of staff training. SNJ was also recently assigned responsibility for continuous professional development for ECEC staff. Moreover, the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (Ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de l’Enfance et de la Jeunesse, MENJE) and SNJ conducted a review of the curriculum framework for non-formal education. At the time of writing, SNJ was conducting an integral reform of the continuous professional development system, which aims to expand access, make the offer free of charge for settings and improve the quality of provision.

This chapter considers Luxembourg’s main strengths and challenges in building and retaining an ECEC workforce that can best support quality, particularly in the non-formal sector. It also makes recommendations to inform discussions on ongoing and future policy developments, as summarised in Box 2.1. In line with the framework of the Quality beyond Regulations project (OECD, 2021[1]), the discussion focuses on the following four aspects of workforce development:

  1. 1. policies to improve the skills and preparedness of ECEC professionals to work with children by strengthening initial education and training for ECEC staff and setting qualification requirements for different types of roles

  2. 2. policies to make sure ECEC staff and leaders are well prepared to foster enriching interactions through broad training that includes quality work-based learning and is well aligned with the curriculum framework

  3. 3. strategies for the continuous professional development that support the engagement of ECEC staff and leaders in a range of learning opportunities, through time and funding, matching their needs at different career stages

  4. 4. policies to ensure that staff working conditions, salaries, and employment contracts align with staff qualifications and roles.

As studies from different national contexts and for different types of provision suggest, highly qualified staff tend to be better able to sustain enriching and stimulating interactions with children (Manning et al., 2017[3]; Lin and Magnusson, 2018[4]).

Luxembourg has made important efforts in the last decade to professionalise its ECEC workforce by strengthening the quality of ECEC staff education and training, introducing legal requirements on minimum qualifications to work in the non-formal education sector and supporting participation in continuous professional development.

The implementation regulation (2013) of the ASFT Act (Loi du 8 septembre 1998 réglant les relations entre l'Etat et les organismes oeuvrant dans les domaines social, familial et thérapeutique) specified the qualifications requirements for staff working in non-formal ECEC. Regulations require settings serving children under age 4 to have a minimum of 60% of staff who hold at least an International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) Level 3 qualification in the social or educational field (éducateur diplômé); a maximum of 30% of staff with either lower qualifications than ISCED 3 (auxiliaire de vie) or other qualifications not directly related to the social or educational field; and no more than 10% of staff with no qualifications. In settings with a capacity greater than or equal to 40 children, at least one of the staff members must have a bachelor’s or master’s level qualification (ISCED 6 or above) in the psychosocial, pedagogical or socio-educational field. In settings for children above age 4, the required percentages are 50%, 40% and 10% in the respective categories. Within the non-formal sector, the same regulations apply to all types of settings, both contracted (conventionné) and non-contracted (non-conventionné).

While there are no available data on the qualifications of the ECEC workforce in Luxembourg, these requirements suggest that the level of qualification of ECEC staff working with the youngest children is relatively low. As a point of comparison, in Germany and Norway (countries that have also prioritised ECEC), 70-80% of ECEC staff working with children under the age of 3 have at least an ISCED 4 diploma (post-secondary non-tertiary), and 50-70% have at least an ISCED 6 diploma (bachelor’s degree) (Figure 2.1).

Settings registered within the subsidy funding scheme (chèques-service accueil, CSA) that serve children aged 0 to 4 are also requested to implement the multilingual education programme and comply with language qualification requirements in place. These require them to hire at least one educator holding at least a C1 language qualification in Luxembourgish and at least one educator with the same level in French. Regulations also stipulate that these settings must appoint a pedagogical referent to co-ordinate the implementation of the multilingual education programme. The pedagogical referent must hold a qualification (at least at ISCED Level 3) in the psychosocial, pedagogical or socio-educational fields.

Teachers (instituteurs) in formal ECEC must have a bachelor’s qualification (ISCED Level 6) in educational sciences or an equivalent qualification. To enter the profession, all teachers must pass a national exam (concours d’admission) and complete a three-year stage organised by the National Institute for Continuous Professional Development (IFEN). In the first (non-compulsory) year of formal ECEC (éducation précoce), teachers can be supported in their work by other staff (éducateurs gradués and éducateurs diplômés). Educators (éducateurs gradués) are requested to have a bachelor’s degree in social and educational sciences (ISCED Level 6). Assistants (éducateurs diplômés) must have an ISCED Level 3 qualification.

ECEC staff in Luxembourg often conduct their initial education in foreign countries, particularly in neighbouring countries such as Belgium, France and Germany. Mechanisms are in place to recognise foreign diplomas for staff and teachers in both the non-formal and formal sectors. A commission in MENJE evaluates candidate diplomas and may grant a full or partial recognition, which may require the practitioner to complete additional modules. To work in the formal sector, teachers who conducted their initial education outside Luxembourg must pass a preliminary language test in Luxembourgish, German and French, in addition to the national exam.

The minimum qualification required to become a leader of a centre-based ECEC structure for children under 3 is a bachelor’s degree (ISCED Level 6). However, regulations (Règlement grand-ducal modifié du 14 novembre 2013) stipulate that an educator with an ISCED Level 3 qualification (éducateur diplômé) can also become a leader in settings with fewer than 40 children. Leadership responsibilities in the formal ECEC sector are shared between regional directors, who are required to have a master’s degree (ISCED Level 7), and presidents of school committees, who are elected from among the teachers in their schools and therefore have the same qualification as teachers (ISCED Level 6). Regional directors provide oversight and monitoring, whereas school committee presidents focus more on day-to-day functioning and providing overall support for the teachers in their schools.

In past years, Luxembourg has worked to upskill its workforce through continuous professional development. The government provides contracted settings with funding to support staff attendance at trainings. In addition, a reform introduced in 2022 makes continuous training, coaching and mentoring free of charge for all settings, as discussed in detail below.

Requirements for minimum attendance at trainings are in place for all types of settings, with requirements to participate for all categories of ECEC staff working with children of all ages, including the youngest. In non-formal ECEC, 32 hours of professional development over 2 years are required for all staff working with children, and this requirement is linked to the setting’s eligibility for the CSA funding programme (see Chapter 1). A specific 30-hour training course to support multilingualism is required for pedagogical referents and is offered free of charge by SNJ. In formal ECEC, compulsory, ongoing training (40 hours per year for assistants, 48 hours over 3 years for teachers) follows the priorities defined by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth and is offered mainly through IFEN.

Home-based providers in Luxembourg must register with MENJE to benefit from the CSA scheme. From the introduction of the CSA scheme in 2009 until 2016, the number of registered home-based providers increased. From 2017, however, with the introduction of quality requirements, the number of registered providers started decreasing. Home-based providers must conduct 40 hours of continuous professional training every 2 years, of which 20 hours must be training in accordance with the national curriculum framework for non-formal education. Professional development for childminders is provided by the Agence Dageselteren, which is part of Arcus, a non-profit organisation providing services for children, youth and families in the social sector.

The qualification requirements for formal ECEC settings imply that higher qualified staff work in this sector than the non-formal sector. In the non-formal sector, attracting and retaining highly qualified staff is particularly challenging for non-contracted settings, as they offer less advantageous working conditions than contracted settings and the formal sector.

The significant expansion of the ECEC sector in the last ten years has not been followed by a greater availability of qualified ECEC staff trained in Luxembourg. As a result, ECEC providers increasingly rely on staff trained abroad, which may have implications on their preparedness to implement the Luxembourgish curricula and on their knowledge of the Luxembourgish language. With the introduction of higher standards for quality and the curriculum for non-formal education, the gap between required qualifications and the characteristics of available staff has widened.

In particular, some non-contracted settings for the youngest children tend to hire staff who have obtained their diplomas for pre-primary education (école maternelle) in France, who often implement pedagogical practices that may be more formal than those suggested in the Luxembourgish non-formal curriculum framework, especially for the youngest children. Non-contracted settings for children under age 4 also struggle to comply with the language qualification requirements for staff (at least one person with C1 level in French and one with the same level in Luxembourgish).

Monitoring settings’ compliance with staff minimum qualification requirements is currently not systematic for all types of settings (see Chapter 3). In non-formal education settings serving children aged 0-4, controls are made in compliance with the requirements of the CSA scheme. However, for other settings, while officers from MENJE might ask setting leaders to show proof of staff diplomas if there are particular issues to check, there are no structured controls. It is therefore not clear whether they comply with the minimum requirements for staff languages and qualifications. Implementing a system for consistent monitoring and collection of data in all settings would be important.

Luxembourg aims to achieve broad enrolment of children in ECEC starting from an early age. It has adopted an ambitious curriculum framework for non-formal education and aspires to promote multilingual education for all with an introduction to Luxembourgish. It considers ECEC a building block to education and central to setting all citizens on a lifelong learning pathway. This ambitious agenda requires strong professionals in the ECEC sector. As the country welcomes children from cross-border workers and includes a large immigrant population who does not necessarily speak Luxembourgish, being able to offer enough places in high-quality ECEC settings is another challenge. This challenge is mainly linked to the difficulty of training and recruiting a sufficiently large number of professionals.

Strengthening the initial education programmes that prepare staff to work in the ECEC sector is an essential element of a strategy to professionalise the workforce. Programmes currently have a broad focus and are not specific to ECEC. Continuous professional development is also fundamental to raising staff skills and knowledge and ensuring that staff who obtained their diplomas abroad have understood and can implement the Luxembourgish vision for non-formal education. In the non-formal sector, the required qualifications for staff are relatively low. Moreover, a heterogeneity of diplomas allows entry into the ECEC profession, which means that staff enter the sector with different backgrounds, attitudes, values and beliefs. This can pose challenges for building a unified vision of ECEC and reaching the high level of quality sought by the national framework for non-formal education.

Currently, continuous professional development does not provide certifications enabling staff to obtain higher qualifications. Defining paths for upskilling staff already working in the ECEC sector would help lead to a more skilled workforce. These elements of a strategy to professionalise the workforce are discussed further in this chapter.

While staff qualifications levels matter, not all research finds a direct link between higher levels of qualification and higher process quality (von Suchodoletz et al., 2017[6]), thus the importance of content and delivery of initial education and professional development trainings (OECD, 2021[1]). In terms of initial education, staff access to specialised education in ECEC has been linked with improved process quality (OECD, 2018[2]).

In Luxembourg, there are no ECEC-specific initial education programmes. The vocational secondary institution (Lycée technique pour professions éducatives et sociales, LTPES) offers a general training programme that prepares professionals to work in the social field, including with children, the elderly, and people with disabilities and special needs. This programme lasts three years (the two last years of secondary education plus one extra year) and offers a qualification at the ISCED Level 3 (éducateur diplômé).

At the higher education level, the University of Luxembourg offers a bachelor’s degree in social and educational sciences, from which students graduate as social assistant professionals. This diploma (ISCED Level 6, éducateur gradué) is a broad qualification for social pedagogical work with all age groups. It allows an individual to work as an educator in both the formal and non-formal sectors. The University of Luxembourg also offers a bachelor’s degree in educational sciences (ISCED Level 6) that is required to become a teacher in the formal sector.

The Ministry for Higher Education and Research holds main policy responsibility for the quality of initial training in both further and higher education. Although the Ministry for Higher Education and Research has regular exchanges with the University of Luxembourg and the LTPES, there are no explicitly defined quality standards for initial education programmes, and the University of Luxembourg has large autonomy. Initial education institutions have procedures for internal evaluation, but there are no mechanisms in place for the external monitoring of the programmes.

Since initial education programmes have broad objectives, graduates from these programmes are often not familiar with the national curriculum frameworks for ECEC. They may also not have been trained on pedagogical approaches with young children. While the content of the ISCED 6 programmes seems more aligned with national curriculum frameworks for ECEC, the ISCED 3 degree does not systematically include this content. Staff with higher qualifications, who have a better understanding of curriculum framework, often have more responsibility roles and are less in contact with children, which may have implications for quality.

Providers of initial education for ECEC staff have the autonomy to organise their programmes and define their curriculum frameworks. MENJE should, however, go beyond informal collaboration and define long-term quality standards for initial education programmes, including a stronger alignment with national curricula for ECEC. These standards should be defined collaboratively in consultation with experts and the ECEC sector. At a later stage, monitoring should be implemented to ensure that initial education programmes are compliant with the defined standards.

Particularly in the non-formal sector, it is essential to ensure that the LTPES programme further incorporates the vision of non-formal education. Ensuring that all students in initial education who aim to work in the ECEC field receive training on the curriculum framework for non-formal education is vital to preparing them to work with young children.

However, since the LTPES programme has a broad scope, there are limits to the extent to which ECEC topics can be integrated. It might be worth exploring the possibility of reviewing the programme in order to grant specialisations in the qualification that would allow students to take a more specialised path. One mechanism would be to create an ECEC track within the programme and enable students interested in working in ECEC to choose courses aligned with the skills and knowledge needed to work in ECEC. A specialised track can also be implemented by making it possible to specialise in ECEC in the last year of the programme, with relevant courses or work-based trainings/apprenticeships. A final option, which could replace or complement the two first mechanisms, would be to add a year for (further) specialisation.

In the current LTPES programme, further efforts could be made to intentionally align the already existing modules covering ECEC with the principles of the curriculum framework for non-formal education. Another way to more broadly incorporate the vision for non-formal education into the LTPES programme is to highlight the rationale that although the curriculum framework for non-formal education encompasses children and youth up to age 18, its general principles (e.g. autonomy, well-being, participation) can also apply to other populations in the social field.

Research has long highlighted the critical role played by work-based training for sustaining situated and context-based learning (Balduzzi and Lazzari, 2015[7]; Flämig, König and Spiekermann, 2015[8]). As prospective staff engage in hands-on activities and deal with the challenges of everyday practice, they are provided with opportunities to build and apply new knowledge in real-life situations (Kaarby and Lindboe, 2016[9]). The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) Starting Strong 2018 (an international survey of ECEC staff) suggests that initial preparation that includes a practical component tends to expose staff to a broader range of content, in particular in areas that are otherwise less commonly integrated into programmes, such as working with a diversity of children or classroom management (OECD, 2020[10]). Data from the Quality beyond Regulations project (OECD, 2021[1]) show that in participating countries, a practicum is required in most settings covering children aged 3-5, as well as in most of those for ages 0-5. However, they are less frequent in settings for children aged 0-2 (Figure 2.2).

Initial education programmes in Luxembourg include a practicum component. At the University of Luxembourg, the bachelor’s degree in social and educational sciences includes two internships: one conducted in the second semester and another in the sixth semester.

ECEC staff who start working in the formal sector also go through a two-year induction period at the beginning of their assignment. In the non-formal sector, induction programmes for newly arrived staff seem to depend on each setting and their capacity to train staff. A more systematic approach to induction and coaching would be important (see the “Continuous professional development” section).

In the LTPES programme, students must conduct one internship per year. In the first year, the internship lasts 9 weeks; in the second, 6 weeks; and in the third, 11 weeks. The LTPES has concluded agreements with different types of ECEC settings where students can conduct their internships, both contracted and non-contracted. During the internship, students are supported by a teacher from LTPES and a tutor in the field. The tutor is part of the setting’s staff and is required to hold an ISCED 3 qualification and have at least two years of experience to be assigned this role. The LTPES offers support to tutors, such as information meetings, trainings and resources. Tutors also receive an extra salary for conducting this function.

Given the broad scope of the LTPES programme, the practical placement can take place in any sector of the social field. As internships are often carried out in contexts other than early childhood education settings (and often outside the non-formal sector), graduates often start working without any practical experience in the sector. Ensuring that all students who aim to work in the ECEC field receive practical experience during their initial education is critical to preparing them for working with young children. This could be done by allowing students interested in working in ECEC to conduct several internships in the field of ECEC, for example, within the specialised track discussed earlier.

The ECEC sector in Luxembourg has developed quickly over the last few decades, increasing the demand for a qualified workforce to enter the profession. However, Luxembourg’s existing initial education programmes currently produce fewer graduates than the sector needs. For example, from the University of Luxembourg, as the degree does not specialise in ECEC, only around 20% of graduates work in formal ECEC (70 éducateurs gradués per year). This represents a small percentage of the demand for ECEC staff.

The pressing need for qualified staff calls for strategies to increase the number of graduates qualified to work in the sector. Beyond the existing offer of initial education programmes, it would be worth exploring the possibility of creating new specific ECEC programmes that provide qualification at ISCED Levels 3 to 6, as there seems to be sufficient demand from prospective students. The availability of specialised programmes (or at least partly specialised) could allow unqualified staff to obtain a qualification and staff with low qualifications to upskill. For example, a new specialised programme (e.g. two-year duration) could allow staff to move from an ISCED 3 to an ISCED 4 and ISCED 5 qualification. This specialised programme could, for example, be integrated into the LTPES programme as an optional extra two years.

Specific ECEC programmes at different levels of education would need to match different roles and responsibilities and could facilitate career progression. For instance, there is room to define the role of staff more clearly with higher educational qualifications and more specific knowledge of the curriculum framework for non-formal education. Staff members now tend to be employed in the non-formal contracted sector, which offers higher wages than the non-contracted sector, but without having clearly defined roles with higher pedagogical responsibilities. This role could overlap with the roles of the multilingual pedagogical referent or with the leader of the setting and would need to be included uniformly in the non-formal sector (e.g. for both contracted and non-contracted services) (see Chapter 1).

MENJE is currently working on creating a one-year vocational training diploma (ISCED Level 3) targeted to non-formal education with a strong focus on ECEC to prepare professionals to work with children aged 0-18 in non-formal education settings. Plans are for the programme to be implemented from September 2022. It would rely strongly on the national curriculum for non-formal education. The programme would also include internships in different non-formal ECEC settings, including crèches, maisons relais and foyers de jour, where qualified staff would supervise them. With this diploma, the government aims to provide unqualified staff with the opportunity to gain an ISCED Level 3 qualification. There are currently no plans for it to be a stepping stone to higher qualifications.

The government foresees that the demand for the programme will be higher than its capacity, as the programme will offer only 60 places to start and plans to include a selection process to choose candidates. The vocational training would be targeted mainly at students who have graduated from the third year of secondary school. This being said, the government is currently collaborating with the École Nationale pour Adultes (ENAD) to implement the programme in a way that facilitates the attendance of working adults. However, no specific provisions have been made to target this programme to home-based providers. Communicating the availability of this programme to these providers and offering incentives for their attendance would help foster quality in home-based settings.

While there seems to be a significant potential demand for places in a specialised ECEC initial education programme (as the ECEC profession attracts prospective students), higher education institutions might not have the capacity to provide it. It has been difficult to find the teaching body to provide the trainings on the providers’ side. Another challenge has been the limits in their infrastructural capacity to receive more students.

Efforts to find and attract qualified educators to provide initial education programmes are needed, for example, through co-operation with foreign universities. Hybrid models, with both in-person and online modules, can also help increase the capacity of initial education institutions. Another strategy for the non-formal sector could be to allow a higher number of these apprentices beyond the 10% limit for ‘’unqualified staff’’ in settings serving children under age 4, and beyond 20% in settings serving children above age 4. The review team noted that receiving settings consider students conducting apprenticeships as an important support.

Increasing the capacity of initial education programmes should not be to the detriment of quality. Programmes need to include a good balance between courses and practice. Students need to be mentored and supported, especially during practical experiences and be allowed time for reflection. The content of the vocational programme should also match the sector’s priorities. For this, collaboration with SNJ and regional officers will be essential, as they can provide valuable feedback on staff training needs.

Continuous professional development is pivotal for ECEC staff to extend and update their knowledge and develop new skills (OECD, 2021[1]; Hamre, Partee and Mulcahy, 2017[11]). Recent studies suggest that staff participation in well-designed professional development can be effective in supporting process quality in ECEC settings, for instance, by enhancing staff’s abilities to create close, warm and responsive relationships with children, to manage behaviour and to stimulate children’s reasoning and language development (Eckhardt and Egert, 2020[12]; Egert, Dederer and Fukkink, 2020[13]; Markussen-Brown et al., 2017[14]; Werner et al., 2016[15]). Participation in professional development can moreover support the development of staff’s professional identity and their well-being, buffer the negative effect of stress and burnout, and boost satisfaction, commitment and retention (Peleman et al., 2018[16]; Sandilos et al., 2018[17]; Totenhagen et al., 2015[18]). Effective adult-learning activities typically exhibit features such as responsiveness to context, a strong evaluative dimension of practice, and individual feedback and guidance (OECD, 2021[1]; Boeskens, Nusche and Yurita, 2020[19]).

Continuous professional development is particularly important in the context of Luxembourg, where staff come from diverse backgrounds and have different qualification levels. Professional development can help upskill the workforce particularly in the non-formal sector and in non-contracted settings, where initial education levels are relatively low.

Besides training ECEC staff on specific themes, pedagogies and practices, continuous professional development helps foster values, attitudes and beliefs on ECEC and is necessary for ECEC staff to develop a shared understanding of ECEC in alignment with national curriculum frameworks. Most graduates entering the ECEC sector in Luxembourg do not have specialised education in ECEC and are also not familiar with non-formal education. In addition, such trainings are crucial for staff who have conducted their initial education in foreign countries and may have different visions.

Continuous professional development is also vital for ECEC staff who graduated some time ago and did not receive any initial education on curriculum frameworks. Training can ensure that working staff keep updated on the latest developments in the field, which is necessary considering the significant changes introduced in the sector in the last ten years.

All ECEC staff in Luxembourg are required to participate in continuous professional development for a minimum amount of time, in both the formal sector (40 hours per year for educators; 48 hours over 3 years for teachers) and the non-formal sector (32 hours over 2 years for all staff). Training requirements are the same for newly arrived staff and experienced ones. In addition, in the non-formal sector, a specific training on multilingualism (30 hours) is compulsory for pedagogical officers, and specific trainings on inclusion are also offered. Bigger providers tend to have a comprehensive offer of training for their leaders and networks that support them in their role, but this is not the case for most settings.

In formal ECEC, continuous professional development is overseen by MENJE. Compulsory ongoing training is offered mainly through IFEN, which is also responsible for induction and coaching and which works closely with the Service for Co-ordination of Research and Pedagogical and Technological Innovation (SCRIPT) department. IFEN provides courses for teachers and educators (both together and separately).

Until recently, the government has only paid for continuous professional development training in the non-formal sector for contracted settings, while non-contracted settings were not receiving funding beyond the one provided through the subsidy funding scheme (CSA). However, since the beginning of 2022, the cost of trainings is now funded by the government for all providers in the non-formal sector. Continuous professional development in the non-formal sector is delivered by several agencies, including Arcus, Caritas, Croix rouge, Elisabeth, and Inter-Actions, which are all part of the FEDAS (which is both a federation and an agency). ECEC leaders can also arrange with providers to deliver the trainings in their particular setting. The agencies also offer coaching for leaders and supervision of teams.

At the time of writing, the government was advancing on a reform to re-organise and harmonise the continuous professional development system in the non-formal sector. The reform process is overseen by a commission with several stakeholders, including representatives of the ECEC settings, employees, MENJE and SNJ. The new system coming into force in 2022 is co-ordinated by SNJ and covers all types of settings and staff (including home-based).

One objective of the reform is to increase participation in training. Since 1 January 2022, continuous professional development in the non-formal sector is financed by the government for contracted and non-contracted settings and for all types of staff (including qualified and unqualified). To benefit from the free-of-charge programme, each ECEC setting is asked to outline an annual programme for its staff. Settings are also requested to provide a list of their staff in order to receive credits according to the number of staff. Credits are equivalent to 24 hours a year per full-time staff, which is above the minimum requirement for professional development (32 hours in two years). Staff time to attend trainings still have to be covered by providers.

There are also plans to reform professional development for home-based providers. The aim is to improve the quality of trainings, responding to home-based providers’ particular needs. Different formats of training are considered and could be provided, including courses, practical exercises and coaching.

As part of the government reform, monitoring for compliance with the minimum hours of training is placed under the responsibility of MENJE and is no longer part of regional officers’ functions (see Chapter 3). However, regional officers will have to evaluate the training and professional development annual plans of each ECEC setting to ensure that they are adapted to their profile and needs.

In the non-formal education sector, there is a comprehensive offer of professional development trainings for staff. However, one barrier for staff to attend trainings is that providers have to cover for staff time, and they often struggle to find replacements for staff in training. The fact that all staff working with children require the same number of hours means that centres do not have much flexibility in assigning training to staff who need it more. For non-contracted settings, the costs of continuous professional development trainings might have been a significant barrier, which created an imbalance within the non-formal ECEC sector.

The payment of training courses by the government for all types of settings starting in 2022 can help reduce inequality in treatment of the formal and non-formal sectors and should support continuous professional development in non-contracted settings and small settings. The inclusion of home-based providers in the plan is also an essential step in professionalising the sector and raising their skills. By supporting broader participation in training, the credits system would also help progressively overcome heterogeneity in staff’s backgrounds and qualifications.

From the staff’s point of view, other potential barriers to participation in professional development may include: not having the time, either for work or family reasons; the fact that there is no compensation for staff absences during training; or they might not see the benefits of training. If participation in training remains below the requirement after implementing the reform, data could be collected to understand the reasons for non-participation.

Given that leaders’ initial training does not include specialised content on ECEC, nor on managerial skills, ensuring the quality of continuous professional development training for leaders can help them be better qualified for their tasks. Leaders of ECEC settings have an essential role to play in providing the conditions for staff to develop high-quality practices, for instance, by building a climate of trust and collaboration, facilitating staff engagement in professional learning and addressing sources of stress for staff in their work (OECD, 2021[1]; Douglass, 2019[20]). Findings from the TALIS Starting Strong 2018 survey show that in centres where leaders set a clear vision, staff report a stronger sense of self-efficacy (OECD, 2020[21]). Leadership is also crucial for translating policies into practice and driving innovation and change in systems (OECD, 2019[22]; 2015[23]).

The reform of the system includes strategies to support the professional development of leaders. This includes coaching, mentoring and a diverse offer of training courses. Some topics that would be relevant for training content include management practices; implementing curriculum frameworks; supporting staff with their pedagogical work; fostering self-reflection in their settings; and engaging with parents, communities and the formal education sector.

The offer of trainings includes a variety of course topics. However, there seems to be a mismatch between the content of continuous professional development trainings and staff training needs. For example, staff seem to request further training and support in implementing curriculum frameworks, and the provision of this type of training seems not to meet the demand. A survey on training needs conducted by SNJ shows that staff also express the need for more courses on topics such as inclusion and multilingual education and more face-to-face rather than virtual trainings. Trainings on multilingualism are provided to pedagogical referents within settings, but not necessarily to other staff, and they are not enough to cater for the important demand. Another issue is that pedagogical referents struggle to transmit their training to the rest of the staff in their settings.

Increasing the offer of training courses for unqualified staff (maximum 10% per setting serving children under age 4 and 20% per setting serving children above 4) and targeting high-quality training specific to them should be considered within the review plans. The new credits system gives ECEC centre leaders the possibility to allocate more training to the staff who need it.

The offer of trainings for leaders is limited. In particular, leaders are not receiving enough training on the curriculum framework for non-formal education. They also need further training on management practices. The survey on training needs conducted by SNJ shows that leaders need further coaching and individual support. For example, a new pilot programme implemented by the FEDAS, with support of SNJ, to support leaders has been well attended.

Language of provision of trainings also seems to be an issue, as there are often not enough trainings in French available, which is a problem, particularly for non-contracted settings that are more likely to employ French-speaking staff. Some staff may also welcome more trainings in English.

As the government is advancing with reforms to increase funding for continuous professional development, it is vital to ensure that training content is aligned with staff needs. Training that focuses on ECEC content and the national frameworks and has a practical orientation (e.g. how to talk with children, interactions within guided play) can help staff better understand the principles of non-formal and multilingual education.

The 2022 reform intends to develop a coherent and diverse set of courses and adjust the training content to staff and leaders’ training needs. The agencies providing the trainings will be asked to submit a programme for their training offer, which will be evaluated for approval by SNJ against quality standards. The offer will also include trainings that are not directly linked to the national curriculum framework. A commission chaired by SNJ and including other stakeholders, the “Further Training Commission”, is charged with overseeing the system’s reform, co-ordinating the provision of training from the agencies, and ensuring that continuous professional development responds to the needs of the sector.

With this new approach, care needs to be taken to ensure that mechanisms are in place to assess the training needs of staff and leaders and that training provision responds to these needs. SNJ plans to collect information on staff training needs through surveys. Collecting data on training needs as well as staff backgrounds, qualifications and language proficiency will help inform the design of training programmes. SNJ also plans to consult regional officers and involve them in the review process of the continuous professional development system. According to the results of their monitoring visits, their expertise can help inform the training course programmes on the areas where staff need further support. Feedback from SNJ staff directly involved in the provision of training, such as for multilingual education, will also be valuable in designing the content of the continuous professional development offer.

In the non-formal sector, the decision on who does the training and what they do is taken by leaders. While some leaders provide staff flexibility, others choose trainings for their staff according to their own considerations. The OECD review team noted disagreement between staff and leaders in some cases. There could be more clarity on training objectives, especially on the balance to be found between addressing the needs of staff members for their own development or addressing the more short-term needs of the centre. Regional officers also have a role to play in advising on training needs, taking into account the various interests (see Chapter 3).

In developing the reform of the system, attention should be given to alternative formats of professional development. In addition to traditional training courses, mentoring and coaching have been shown to effectively lead to improvement in practices with young children and can therefore be well adapted to the Luxembourgish context where staff are expected to implement high-quality practices according to the curriculum framework. The credits system, which allocates funding to cover more hours of training than the legal requirement, will provide ECEC centre leaders with the flexibility to use the extra credits for various formats of training, such as coaching or group training. The new system can finance hours of pedagogical support (mentoring and coaching from trainers) and professional support (team supervision and facilitation in case of conflicts).

Induction programmes can also familiarise staff with different backgrounds and qualifications with the setting and the sector. Induction periods could include a theoretical part on the goals, values and vision of non-formal ECEC. This would require ECEC centre leaders to be trained to be able to support newly arrived staff throughout this period.

More attention needs to be put on monitoring the quality of professional development. As agencies will be required to fulfil quality standards set by the Further Training Commission, systematic mechanisms need to be set to monitor the quality of the training provision.

The reform of professional development includes efforts to strengthen the quality of training provision through criteria for training structure, content and methods. The new training system will be evaluated by the end of 2022 and revised as needed (2022 will be considered a transition year). ECEC providers will be required to present a training plan for their setting, which from 2023 will need to be validated by regional officers, in line with feedback previously provided and with the setting’s internal evaluation. The aim is for setting leaders to take stronger responsibility for their staff’s development.

SNJ is also developing standards for trainers in terms of qualifications and background. Trainers will have to be accredited by each agency, based on criteria set by the Further Training Commission, which SNJ chairs. As in initial education, finding competent trainers to provide continuous professional development trainings in the non-formal sector has proven difficult. Strategies need to be put in place to recruit qualified trainers who have good knowledge of the national curriculum framework for non-formal education, as well as trainers who can deliver courses in French. For this, co-operation with the initial education sector might provide opportunities for cross-fertilisation.

There is also little communication between initial training providers and continuous professional development providers. Fostering co-operation between the two can be useful to ensure complementarity and to identify gaps and areas where staff may need further support. MENJE could further engage with the University of Luxembourg and LTPES, which would better inform the design of continuous professional development training programmes.

Continuing co-operation with Agence Dageselteren is key to ensuring that home-based provider training is consistent with training for staff in centre-based settings. In particular, home-based providers seem to request further support with conducting administrative processes. These providers also need support in applying quality pedagogical practices with children and becoming familiar with the national framework for non-formal education.

Strengthening co-operation between professional development providers and initial training providers can help to develop professional development certification. Continuous professional development does not provide certification and is not linked with possible career pathways in Luxembourg. Developing certification of professional development and possibly a system of micro-credits that could be obtained through participation in several modules would help less qualified staff to gain qualifications and ultimately improve their interactions with children. Such a system would also encourage training providers to design short programmes (or modules) that can be combined with others in a consistent programme. This could increase the quality of professional development while providing incentives to staff to participate in obtaining a higher qualification and possibly earning higher wages.

Such a system would also allow staff to upgrade their qualifications while still working and combine courses and work-based learning. It could also be adapted to qualified working staff (éducateurs diplômés) to upskill to an ISCED 4 or 5 level through this process.

The lack of a specialised programme in ECEC is a challenge for working staff who wish to upgrade their qualifications to ISCED Levels 4 and 5. Furthermore, mechanisms for recognition of prior learning are not widespread and appear complex, which may be preventing staff with experience and relevant skillsets to upgrade their qualifications.

The plans to reform continuous professional development offer a good opportunity to design paths for upskilling working staff. For instance, designing a programme that allows staff to upgrade their qualifications, building on training modules in addition to work-based learning. For working staff with an ISCED 3 qualification (éducateur diplômé), this plan could aim to translate prior experience and continuous training into an ISCED 4 and 5 qualifications and to upskill to an ISCED 6 qualification (éducateur gradué). For unqualified staff who are working, the reform of the system could consider strategies to enable them to obtain an ISCED 3 qualification through training completion.

The curriculum framework for non-formal education (Cadre de référence national sur l’éducation non formelle des enfants et des jeunes) provides guidance for staff and leaders working with children aged 0-12 in non-formal institutions. The curriculum for the formal sector (Plan d’études de l´école fondamentale) covers both pre-primary and primary schooling, with a separate supplement for the first, non-compulsory year of formal education (Plan cadre pour l’éducation précoce). The curricula for formal and non-formal education are seen as complementary. Both frameworks share a child-centred approach, with a strong emphasis on play and a commitment to enhancing diversity, inclusion, and multilingualism. Process quality is given a central place in both curricula. They are also very much aligned in terms of areas of action.

With three national languages, multilingualism is an important component of life in Luxembourg, including for ECEC. Multilingual education is an important component of both formal and non-formal education curricula. The multilingual programme for non-formal education aims to familiarise children with the Luxembourgish language from an early age and to foster the use of children’s home languages in ECEC settings. The programme also places importance on co-operation with parents and linkages with communities. The multilingual programme for non-formal education is based on research and is supported by a scientific council formed by experts from different countries. ECEC centres in the non-formal sector are required to apply the multilingual programme as part of the CSA scheme, which requires them to have at least one staff with a level C1 in Luxembourgish and one with a level C1 in French.

As part of the multilingual programme, settings must comply with a specific training on multilingualism for their pedagogical referents (30 hours) and all staff (8 hours every 2 years). These training courses are organised by SNJ. The multilingual programme provides high-quality trainings (for example, including concrete examples of pedagogical practices while also stressing the need to cater to the needs of the child).

The government provides different types of resources to help staff to understand the national curriculum framework for non-formal education. This includes publishing guides to accompany the curriculum framework and making the framework messages more accessible to staff. A comprehensive set of publications, available in different languages and targeted at different audiences, aims to make the curriculum accessible to the different profiles of staff and parents. All publications are freely accessible through the SNJ platform (http://www.enfancejeunesse.lu/). SNJ also aims to translate complex content into plain language by preparing videos and posters for staff and booklets for parents.

The curriculum framework for non-formal education is very well regarded by all stakeholders in Luxembourg, as it has an educational component and also focuses on well-being. The framework is considered a strength of the system and a building block for quality. ECEC staff in the non-formal sector also consider that the curriculum framework gives legitimacy and value to the educational work they are conducting.

However, staff still seem to struggle to fully understand and implement the ambitious goals and sophisticated approach of the curriculum framework for non-formal education. Reports from regional officers show that this is the case, particularly in non-contracted settings. Several factors can explain staff challenges to fully implement all aspects of the curriculum. Changing deeply rooted beliefs, values and attitudes on ECEC held by staff is a difficult task that demands time and resources. Stakeholders in the sector feel that when the curriculum was first introduced, it was done rapidly and in a top-down approach. Although many initiatives were implemented subsequently by the government to train and support staff in this new framework, getting all ECEC staff on board with the new vision for the sector will require further effort.

There is a significant gap between staff preparedness and the high expectations for quality in the curriculum framework, particularly in the non-contracted sector. Most staff have not received any preparation on the framework during their initial education; therefore, it is not clear whether they sufficiently understand the concept of non-formal education. Despite the available offer of continuous professional development training and material resources, it seems that some staff are still not familiar with the curriculum framework. The curriculum framework for non-formal education seems particularly hard to understand for home-based settings staff, for example.

The OECD review team noted that in some cases, staff approaches to ECEC remain focused on planned activities and children’s outcomes, in a formal fashion. Important concepts of the curriculum framework might not be clear to staff, including child participation, child competency, multilingualism and play. However, since there is no systematic monitoring of this (see Chapter 3), the extent to which practices align with the curriculum framework is not completely clear. Staff could also be better prepared to use the logbook as a basis for self-reflection, not only to enter activities. There are also difficulties in the design of settings’ pedagogical concepts. Staff working with children are not always involved in this task, making it hard for them to fully understand the concept and feel ownership.

Furthermore, the first version of the curriculum was drafted in a rather complex, academic language, which many stakeholders found hard to understand. Despite efforts made by SNJ to publish targeted publications that simplify the curriculum’s content and include practical examples, ECEC staff still struggle to translate the curriculum expectations into their daily practices with children, and adapt them to the child and families needs. It is unclear how much the different publications are used by staff and providers of continuous professional development training. There could also be more guidance for providers of professional development training to use these publications.

Another difficulty is that some providers, in particular, big structures, seem to have their own pedagogical approaches that are not always or fully aligned with the national curriculum framework. In settings where providers insist in taking a different pedagogical approach, it can be difficult to align staff practices with the curriculum through quality support and training. Strengthening the monitoring and quality assurance system to address this issue is important to ensure the implementation of the curriculum framework (see Chapter 3).

Staff also need further support in engaging with parents and in supporting transitions within ECEC. Many parents are not familiar with the national curriculum for non-formal education. They might have expectations that are not aligned with the goals of the curriculum framework, for example, that non-formal settings provide only care, overlooking the educational component. Alternatively, they might have expectations for children’s outcomes that correspond to formal education.

Staff need more tools to explain to parents the non-formal education vision, the pedagogies used in the setting and the important educational work they conduct. To prepare them to do this, training courses are needed on how to communicate with parents on children’s development and how to integrate them better in the life of the ECEC setting. In addition, staff need further preparation on how they can engage with parents to help them work with children from various backgrounds.

To support children’s transitions across different types of settings and across formal and non-formal settings, it is important to support staff in both sectors to understand the importance of the continuity of children’s experiences. Trainings can prepare staff across levels on the different developmental needs of children at different stages. Information on the singularities of different settings (particularly of non-formal vs formal) can also help staff support continuity. For example, it would be important to ensure that children aged 3-4 who stay in the non-formal sector (instead of going to précoce) receive stimulating, age-appropriate practices that support them to move on to the formal sector. More systematic information for staff on the different settings children attend (sometimes in the same day) would also be helpful to staff.

A revised version of the framework was finalised and launched at the end of 2021. This revised version of the framework aims at more consistency and simplification of the text. It also includes new chapters on topics that were under-developed previously (e.g. on children’s rights). The framework review was informed by feedback from the sector and overviewed by a commission set up by SNJ and MENJE. A new flyer synthesising the framework has been prepared for staff, and a paper for parents is also in preparation. Although this revised version was launched recently, a further review of the curriculum framework for non-formal education is planned for 2022.

The next version of the framework is scheduled for 2024/25. This version will further simplify the text and include more practical examples. Consultations with the local ECEC structures via working groups are planned to incorporate their views into the new framework. The process, which aims to move away from a sometimes-abstract language to a register that can resonate with ECEC staff, is an important step forward to improving curriculum implementation. ECEC staff might also find the inclusion of practical examples to explain complex concepts helpful. For example, illustrating child participation with concrete examples of interactions with children might facilitate understanding this notion.

The government has started discussions with providers of initial education and professional development to further include the curriculum framework for non-formal education in their programmes, but further efforts are needed, particularly for initial education (see the “Initial education and preparation” section).

New training on the curriculum framework for non-formal education targets staff working in the formal education sector. SNJ is currently piloting this in co-operation with IFEN. The training aim to help school staff understand the approach of non-formal education and its differences with formal education. The objective is to foster the continuity of children’s experiences and improve collaboration across sectors.

The multilingual programme for non-formal education is ambitious and sophisticated, based on research and best practices for children of ECEC age. Luxembourg also has a highly innovative approach to multilingualism and devotes impressive means (and policies) to this objective. In recent years, staff attitudes towards multilingualism and children’s home languages have improved significantly. Before implementing the programme, not only were home languages not encouraged to be used by children and ECEC staff, but studies have shown that they may have been forbidden. Nowadays, most ECEC staff have a good understanding of multilingual education principles and welcome children’s home languages.

Some challenges remain for the proper implementation of the multilingual programme. Some staff still feel unprepared to proficiently speak the main languages used in Luxembourg, which interferes with their ability to create an enabling environment for children to use these languages. Staff need further support in understanding that the objective of multilingual education is to interact with children and have an attitude that encourages the use of languages beyond staff’s own proficiency. Staff need preparation to offer children opportunities to interact in their home languages beyond formal activities, and to avoid stereotypical characterisation of languages and cultures. Staff could be further trained on establishing more frequent and meaningful conversations with children and better communicating the programme’s goals to families.

Furthermore, although all home languages are accepted in ECEC settings in general, studies from the University of Luxembourg note that an implicit hierarchy of languages exists. Staff in some settings will insist on speaking mostly Luxembourgish (or French, depending on the settings type). English, German, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish seem to be common languages used in some settings. However, some of the children’s home languages often remain hidden, e.g. Arabic, Mandarin or Persian. Given that staff do not usually speak these languages, they might feel uncomfortable fostering their use. Further efforts in monitoring are needed to understand the nature of interactions and languages spoken in ECEC settings (see Chapter 3).

In non-contracted settings, the programme for multilingualism can be more challenging to implement. As many of the private crèches are managed by French-speaking leaders and contract mainly French-speaking staff, they face challenges in applying the notions of multilingualism. These settings tend to plan specific hours to do languages (e.g. the Luxembourgish hour or German hour), or they assign specific staff to a particular language (e.g. one person who speaks only Luxembourgish to the children) as they lack the qualified staff to fully implement the programme for multilingualism.

Additional training is needed to support staff in implementing the programme for multilingualism across settings. While the trainings provided by SNJ to pedagogical referents seem to be of high quality, the offer seems insufficient for the demand. It also seems that pedagogical referents find it difficult to transmit the vision and knowledge on multilingualism to the rest of the staff in their settings.

With the review of the continuous professional development system, SNJ should be able to increase its offer of courses. There are plans to hire experts to provide these trainings. They also plan to implement blended learning to reach more staff. The training would have a virtual part on theory and an in-person module where staff could bring videos with examples of their own practice. This type of training can help work with staff on their attitudes and beliefs on multilingualism.

Further communication between the SNJ’s Innovation Division, including the multilingual team, and the regional officers is needed to inform the programme’s implementation. Regional officers can provide valuable feedback on how the programme is being implemented in the field. While currently, this communication seems to be taking place only informally, a more structured approach is planned for 2022. Co-operation with the formal sector is also needed to ensure continuity (children transition across the two multiple times, even in the same day). This can be fostered, for example, by encouraging representatives of the formal sector to attend meetings of the scientific advisory board that oversees the multilingual programme. Providing incentives to staff from both sectors to attend training on multilingualism together (for example, at IFEN) could be very helpful in ensuring coherence in the approach across the sector.

Staff working conditions have an impact on staff well-being, in particular on their emotional well-being, which in turn has an effect on their practices with children and their performance at work. Overall, staff working conditions and well-being can be important drivers of process quality. They can also determine job quality (Cazes, Hijzen and Saint-Martin, 2015[24]), which might, in turn, be a reason for candidates to join the sector, and for existing staff to stay or leave, finally determining the capacity of the sector to retain high-quality staff. Working conditions include various aspects, such as earnings, job security and career prospects, workload and the quality of the working environment at the ECEC centre.

Research shows that salaries are a crucial component of working conditions and for attracting and retaining ECEC staff. Several studies also find a relationship between salaries and the quality of staff’s interactions with children, with better-paid staff having more sensitive interactions with children and fewer detached ones (Cassidy et al., 2017[25]; Hu et al., 2017[26]). This is also the case in home-based settings (Eckhardt and Egert, 2020[12]). Teachers’ perceptions regarding the fairness of their wages are also positively correlated with process quality (Cassidy et al., 2017[25]). Results from TALIS Starting Strong 2018 on nine participating countries show that staff have low satisfaction with salaries and that this associates with stress and disengagement with work (OECD, 2020[10]).

The quality of a working environment also includes non-economic aspects of jobs, such as the nature and content of the tasks at hand and working-time arrangements (Cazes, Hijzen and Saint-Martin, 2015[24]). A heavy workload with multiple, ongoing tasks that demand persistent physical, psychological or emotional efforts can lead to less engagement and commitment, with detrimental effects on classroom or playgroup practices (Ansari et al., 2020[27]). There is empirical evidence suggesting that excessive demands and work overload (i.e. high demand, not enough time, shortage of assistance) are negatively associated with process quality (Aboagye et al., 2020[28]; Aboagye et al., 2020[29]; Chen, Phillips and Izci, 2018[30]). ECEC staff work includes a variety of responsibilities and activities that go beyond working directly with children, including individual planning or preparing play and learning activities; collaborating and speaking with colleagues and parents or guardians; documenting children’s development, well-being and learning; attending professional development activities; and administrative tasks. Some countries have regulations to ensure that staff have paid time allocated to tasks to be performed without children, generally more often for teachers than assistants (OECD, 2021[1]).

In Luxembourg, working conditions for ECEC staff are more advantageous in the formal sector than in the non-formal sector. In the formal sector, teachers’ contracts are full-time, and they receive the same wages as their colleagues from primary school, which are the highest salaries in all OECD countries. Pre-primary teachers have a relatively low number of teaching days (176 days per year) compared to other OECD countries (194 days per year, on average) (OECD, 2020[31]). Teachers in the formal sector have all the benefits of civil servant status, including longer vacations. Within the formal sector, though, conditions are different for teachers (instituteurs) and other categories of ECEC staff working in précoce. Educators who hold an ISCED 3 and 6 qualification (educateurs gradués et diplomés) have a different status and type of contract to teachers, as well as a lower salary. They often have part-time contracts.

In the non-formal sector, staff often have part-time contracts. This is especially the case in settings providing out-of-school-time services. For example, in maisons relais, working hours are organised around school hours. There are also differences in the perceived value and status of staff. Staff in the non-formal sector struggle to get recognition for the pedagogical work they do – their work seems to be often perceived as just care.

Within the non-formal sector, there are significant differences between working conditions in contracted and non-contracted settings. In the contracted sector, staff salaries are relatively good, and settings do not have difficulties hiring and retaining staff. Wages are fixed as per contracts negotiated by unions, which are adapted every three years and take into account years of experience. The government pays the wage bill in the contracted sector.

In non-contracted settings, salaries are generally lower and are negotiated between the providers and employees at an individual level. There is no collective bargaining as in the contracted sector. There are no regulations for these salaries apart from the legal minimum wage. Small or single-setting non-contracted providers usually have less staff available to carry out administrative tasks and pedagogical reflection or cover for staff in training. Big commercial providers or chains, on the other hand, may have the internal resources to support this.

A career in ECEC in Luxembourg is attractive to candidates, as there is significant demand for ECEC staff, and working conditions are relatively advantageous in the formal sector and in non-formal contracted settings. However, retaining staff is a challenge for non-contracted settings in the non-formal sector where working conditions are less advantageous. In particular, non-contracted settings struggle to keep staff that speak Luxembourgish, which is a MENJE requirement (see “The professionalisation of the workforce” section). Given their difficulty in recruiting highly qualified staff, non-contracted settings seem to struggle to align their practices and pedagogies with the ambitious quality requirements and the national curriculum framework for non-formal education. As non-contracted settings are mostly settings serving children aged 0-4 (crèches), this might be creating quality gaps across age groups. The quality gap between maisons relais and pre-primary settings might also affect the continuity of children’s experience of ECEC, given that they transition across sectors multiple times, even in the same day.

Difficulties attracting and retaining staff have implications on the quality of services, especially for small, non-contracted settings. The quality requirements (drafting of the pedagogical concept, consistent use of a logbook, training requirements, implementation of a programme for multilingualism) can be burdensome for small settings, and difficulties filling vacant positions can create challenges for these settings. For example, in some of these settings, staff are not involved in the design of the pedagogical concept, as they do not have time to participate in tasks other than in direct contact with children. Ensuring that the monitoring system does not lead to excessive administrative burden and that quality requirements are proportionate to the capacity and size of settings merit further attention (see Chapter 3).

Part-time work is a source of low wages. Part-time work is common for contracted and non-contracted settings that offer services in the early morning, lunchtime and the end of the day (such as in maisons relais) and staff in these settings can be in precarious situations. It may be worth exploring possibilities to find arrangements to improve this situation and reduce turnover rates. One possibility would be to find arrangements for staff with an ISCED 3 qualification to work both in non-formal and formal education settings for children aged 3-4 (education précoce). This would allow staff to add up the hours in both sectors, resulting in a full-time contract.

In many countries, the working conditions of staff working with the youngest children are poorer than for staff working with older children (OECD, 2021[1]). In some countries with integrated settings for ECEC for children under the age of 3 and pre-primary education (e.g. Norway), working conditions are more favourable, and the status of the profession is higher (OECD, 2020[10]).

However, Luxembourg aims to maintain its approach (two integrated systems for non-formal and formal education, both spanning across ages) while strengthening quality rather than moving to a fully integrated system. This requires aligning working conditions in each part of the system with staff profiles, roles and responsibilities and providing possibilities for staff to work in various parts of the system and progress in their careers. The gap in staff working conditions and profiles (e.g. qualification) between the non-formal contracted and non-contracted sectors needs to be mitigated, and staff with higher qualifications and good knowledge of the curriculum framework (pedagogical referents, as discussed earlier in this chapter) need to work in both parts of the non-formal sector. This entails collecting and analysing information on the cost of ECEC provision in the non-contracted sector and resources of this sector (e.g. parental fees) to understand why settings offer wages below those of the contracted sector. As wages in the contracted sector are negotiated between employees and employer representatives through collective bargaining, but paid by the government, investigating whether wages have not escalated too much in this part of the sector and are still aligned with staff qualifications and skills could be worthwhile (see Chapter 1). The monitoring system also has a vital role to play in ensuring that public funding translates into high quality in all parts of the sector and that settings in the non-contracted sector face incentives to increase wages so as to retain staff who are needed to meet the quality requirements (see Chapter 3).

The different working conditions in formal and non-formal education create quality gaps and fragmentation across sectors, which ultimately affects the continuity of children’s experiences across settings and levels of education. The existing asymmetries between formal and non-formal staff regarding qualifications, working conditions and status are a barrier to co-operation between the two sectors, affecting staff perceptions and willingness to collaborate.

According to regional officers’ reports, staff in the non-formal sector feel that their work is undervalued by society, which can be partly linked to the fact that their salaries are lower than in the formal sector, even for staff with similar qualifications. Another explanation can be the fact that the non-formal sector has only been established fairly recently. For instance, an assistant (with an ISCED Level 3 qualification, éducateur diplômé) working in the non-formal sector has lower working conditions than an assistant working alongside teachers in the first year of formal ECEC (éducation précoce). In addition, there is a feeling among staff in the non-formal sector that formal sector teachers do not acknowledge their pedagogical work and tend to reduce it to care. Consequently, teachers in the formal sector are often not interested in collaborating in joint projects with staff in the non-formal sector. This is an issue for staff in the non-formal sector, as this collaboration is a requirement for them, which is not the case in formal education.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the formal and non-formal sectors started collaborating more, as they had to periodically exchange information on children. This experience may be a building block for the future. Another potential model of co-operation across the sectors is the relationship between maisons relais and primary schools. Staff working in maisons relais have daily contact with their colleagues in formal education since they deliver and pick up children from school, or they sometimes share the same buildings.

To improve transitions across levels, the formal sector should also be encouraged to co-operate with the non-formal sector. As collaboration with the formal sector is part of monitoring in the non-formal sector, there should be inspections looking at the same factors in the formal sector as well. In the longer term, if the qualifications and skills of staff in the non-formal sector increase as recommended in this chapter, the gap in working conditions between the non-formal and formal sectors should also be mitigated.

Home-based providers are highly regulated in Luxembourg. They need to have a diploma in psychosocial, pedagogical, socio-educational or health fields, to have undertaken a number of certified trainings before entering the profession, including on home-based ECEC, to understand and express themselves in at least one of the three official languages, to undertake 20 hours of professional development per year and to develop a project on how they will take care of children. While there are no available data on home-based providers’ working conditions, because of their independent status, they might work hours beyond the contracted ones for preparation and reflection on activities and can be exposed to stress related to lack of information and support on administrative issues. They might also struggle to find replacements for taking take time off for sickness or vacation, also generating stress.

There are ongoing discussions in the sector regarding changing the status of home-based providers to improve their working conditions and the quality of their services. An approach to foster links and activities between home-based providers and centre-based settings is also under consideration. The government is currently conducting a benchmark study to investigate the situation in other European countries.

If the status of home-based providers is changed, care needs to be taken to ensure that changes allow them to concentrate on the pedagogical work and be in closer contact with the offer for quality support and professional development trainings. Integrating home-based providers into centre-based structures can help raise their perceived value to the same level as centre-based settings. With this mixed approach, however, it will be important to respect the specificity of home-based providers and the family-based model that they offer, as many parents look for this type of environment for their children. It will also be important that the new arrangement provides parents with the flexibility they may seek with home-based provision, such as flexible opening hours. This can include better integrating home-based provision with centre-based provision and ensuring smooth transitions between the two.


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