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The Composition of Quality

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

Introducing a free set of quality flashcards to develop student and practitioner understanding of the numerous elements required for quality ECE provision.

Regardless of the curriculum you implement or the geographical location of your service, one thing is fundamental to the provision of early childhood education (ECE) universally.........quality.

Research has shown us time and again that high quality ECE equals better outcomes for the children in our care. The exact composition of quality ECE in your setting is however dependent on various factors such as: demographics, location, national and international policy, legislation, qualification of practitioners, socio-economics and of course the unique and individual child's needs. In the Irish context, we operate in line with a quality framework which is called Síolta (Irish word for "seeds").

For students and practitioners of ECE, building a clear understanding of the fundamental composition of quality practice is an essential requirement of their role. However, due to the numerous elements which are required to cohesively come together to "compose" quality, this can sometimes feel a little daunting and overwhelming. There can be many balls in the air to juggle simultaneously to ensure that the various elements of quality are balanced appropriately to meet the needs of all stakeholders: children, parents, staff, management, owners, funding providers, regulatory inspectors, education inspectors. Regular communications, team meetings, staff supervisions and appraisal, engaging in CPD training and reflective practice (individually and as a team) are some of the ways we can try to ensure ongoing quality provision and identify areas for improvement.

To support reflective practice and to help students and practitioners of ECE, I have put together a free set of 16 flashcards. Each card focusses on one of the 16 Síolta quality standards and can be used as a prompt for discussion and reflection on how your setting and team are pulling together the various components required for the implementation of that standard. These flashcards could also be used by ECE students to help build a cohesive understanding of how all of the various aspects of quality which you are learning about in your studies are interconnected and interdependent. Ultimately I hope that you find these flashcards useful develop your understanding of implementing Síolta in practice and the interplay of curriculum, legislation and regulations in the composition of quality early childhood education.

You can download the full set of Síolta in Practice flashcards for free here:

I hope you find them useful!

About the Author:

Paula Walshe is an ECEC trainer and placement assessor in the further education and training sector and a freelance writer. She currently holds a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Education and will complete her studies for a Master’s Degree in Leadership for ECEC in 2022. Paula has extensive ECEC experience in both pedagogical practice and ECEC management. You can learn more about Paula’s work at her website (, where she writes a weekly blog on current topics in Early Childhood Education and Care in Ireland and provides useful professional and academic resources for students and professionals in this sector. Paula is also one of the creators of an ECE community of practice based on Twitter: ECE Quality Ireland (@ECEQualityIRL) / Twitter Contact Paula: LinkedIn: Paula Walshe / Twitter: @digitalearlyed / Instagram: @digitalearlychildhoodeducator.

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