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Recommendation 2: Take a strategic approach to improving the quality and motivation of ECEC staff

Despite efforts to improve the working conditions and quality of ECEC staff in recent years, the human resource development of ECEC staff remains a fragmented and underdeveloped area of policy that is shared between the central government and municipalities. Although less so than other levels of education, Latvia’s ECEC work force is ageing and together with a decline in the numbers of children these conditions call for a more strategic and national approach to human resource development of ECEC staff. The recruitment of sufficient numbers of quality ECEC staff and the essential transfer of knowledge and skills by experienced staff to the new generation is also something deserving strategic consideration.

Such a strategic approach depends on the careful planning and monitoring of the workforce. Projections and regular discussions between MoES and municipalities should form the basis for strategic workforce planning.

A well-designed career structure for ECEC staff should be central to Latvia’s strategic approach to human resource development. This requires also looking into the salary structure of staff. While writing this report Latvia is considering increasing the salaries of ECEC teachers. This may indeed help in drawing the best graduates into the profession and further motivate those already working in it.

Latvia currently lacks national professional standards for ECEC staff, leaving room for variable interpretations of what ECEC staff should know and be able to do. Such standards, outlining the professional expectations at all stages - from the beginning of their career to advanced levels - should be developed to inform appraisals, guide the professional development of staff and form the basis of well-designed career structure. Head teachers’ capacity to assess staff, including providing effective feedback and coaching to support professional development, should not be overlooked. Latvia should also consider making professional development plans for ECEC staff mandatory. Such plans can help ensure that the professional development and growth of staff is linked to that of the ECEC institution and ultimately that of the children in it.

Furthermore, entry into initial education and the profession should become more selective, which is also an issue for other levels of education (see Chapter 3). Such a measure may help raise the status of the profession and further test the quality and motivation of aspiring ECEC staff. Lastly, Latvia should consider investigating the quality of initial teacher education and professional development programmes, which again is also an issue for other levels of education (see Chapter 3). For example, there is an apparent need to strengthen teachers’ preparation for identifying and working with children with special needs.

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