The quality of general provision ECEC

High quality is crucial for ECEC to have beneficial impacts for children

Research has shown that low quality ECEC can damage rather than promote child development (OECD, 2011). There are two main dimensions of ECEC quality:

Structural quality refers to characteristics of ECEC provision: group sizes, child/staff ratios, staff educational qualifications with specialisation in ECEC, ECEC curriculum, suitable professional development and on-the-job training (OECD, 2011; Leseman and Slot, 2013; Slot, 2014). All of these structural requirements, except for the ECEC curriculum, are strongly regulated for all types of ECEC provision. Structural quality is a precondition of process quality.

Process quality concerns the social-emotional and instructional features of teacher-child and child-child interactions that have been found to be positively related to children’s development of self-regulation, pre-academic, and social skills (Curby et al., 2009; Howes et al., 2008; Mashburn et al., 2008; Slot, 2014).

Process quality in general ECEC is low to medium, and is particularly insufficient in privately provided day care institutions

The emotional aspects of process quality are handled well in all types of ECEC services (Leseman and Slot, 2013; Social and Economic Council, 2016). Staff are generally sensitive to children’s needs and create a good atmosphere. However, educational quality is low to medium in all types of ECEC services (Veen and Leseman, 2015), particularly in private sector institutions (Slot, 2014).

Structural quality

A common quality framework now applies

Legislation in 2010 brought day care centres and pre-kindergartens under the same statutory quality framework with the aim of equalisation. The two forms of ECEC provision have become highly comparable in structural quality (Slot, 2014).

The qualification levels of ECEC staff could be improved

The minimum qualification requirement of an MBO diploma (upper secondary vocational education) for ECEC staff working with children up to age four is low compared to many other OECD countries. For example, all Nordic countries, New Zealand and the United Kingdom require tertiary diplomas for ECEC staff (OECD, 2011).

There are concerns about the quality and lack of standardisation of initial education programmes, which are mainly at the MBO level and often have little specialised ECEC content (Lindeboom and Buiskool, 2013). The Education Council (2015) has argued for many years that staff qualifications at the university level would improve the quality of ECEC. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all staff would need such high qualifications, rather that teams could have skills at different levels, ranging from MBO to the university level, thus limiting the cost implications of more qualified staff. The importance of continuous professional development is increasingly recognised, which has led to several professional development initiatives, such as MoECS’s programme “Versterk” (2010-2014) and the “Quality Impuls” (Kwaliteitsimpuls) programme (2013-2016) that have been implemented in recent years (Social and Economic Council, 2016; Education Council, 2015).

The Netherlands lacks a common ECEC curriculum

By setting standards for ECEC provision, a curriculum promotes quality and consistency, recognising that much cognitive and emotional development takes place prior to ages of three or four (OECD, 2006) (Figure 2.5). most OECD countries have an ECEC curriculum that describes developmental objectives and explains what subjects (such as early reading) should be pursued (OECD, 2011, 2015b). In the Netherlands, there is no curriculum for children below the age of two and a half, and only a loose description of developmental goals for those between the ages of two and a half and four. The VVE programme curricula were designed for disadvantaged children but are increasingly being used in additional childcare contexts.

Figure 2.5. Sensitive periods in early brain development, by age

Source: OECD (2015b), Starting Strong IV: Monitoring Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care, OECD Publishing, Paris,

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >