EDeNn Start Strong Policy Forum report 2013


EDeNn and Start Strong hosted a policy forum and conference for the ECEC sector on the 21st and 22nd of June 2013. The Policy Forum was attended by ECEC policy makers, ECEC NGOs, ECEC Colleges, partnerships and EDeNn representatives. They were addressed by Louise Derman-Sparks (USA), Dr Mathias Urban (UEL), Dr Adrian Marsh (OSI) and Catherine Hynes (DES). Professor Noírín Hayes chaired the event. Colette Murray set the context for addressing diversity, equality and inclusion of all children in the Irish sector. Louise Derman-Sparks stressed the need to begin this work very early because of the impact of systemic and interpersonal dynamics of prejudice and discrimination, of racism, sexism, etc. and how they begin to affect the development of identity and interactions with others in very young children. Dr Urban focused on the need for a ‘competent system’ in ECEC which goes beyond the simply training professionals but building relationships and engaging in joint learning to build effective support systems. Policy recommendations provided by the European CORE project directed by Dr Urban are adopted at local and national level across Europe and internationally. Dr Adrian Marsh drew our attention to the most marginalised communities in Ireland, the Traveller and Roma, and to European studies which are gathering information on the situations for Roma across Europe. He emphasised the need for Ireland to meet her commitments regarding Traveller and Roma Integration. This is very timely in light of the of European commission progress report for the integration of Travellers and Roma in the Irish context where Ireland falls short of her commitment to Travellers and Roma. Catherine Hynes discussed the Preschool Education Initiative for Children from Minority Groups (2011-2012), referring to the breath of the initiative and the considerable results regarding the inclusion of diversity and equality and quality in practice. There was an active discussion from participants. Toby Wolfe from Start Strong thanked participants and informed them that their contribution would be invaluable as EDeNn and Start Strong work to forward this work through a position paper on diversity, equality and inclusion.