Latest OECD report highlights the need for sharper professional development in ECEC

by Freya Lucas

October 28

Training for those working in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings must promote practices that foster children’s learning, development and well-being, with the OECD releasing a new report finding that this is a global deficit requiring urgent attention.

 

Based on the OECD’s Starting Strong Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS Starting Strong), a new OECD report titled Providing Quality Early Childhood Education and Care has found that training specifically to work with children is not always included in ECEC staff education. 

 

The report further notes that staff who have been trained specifically to work with children report using more practices that can facilitate children’s learning and development in a wide range of areas.

 

TALIS Starting Strong is the first international survey of the ECEC workforce. About 15,000 ECEC staff members and nearly 3,000 ECEC leaders from nine countries (Chile, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Norway, and Turkey) took part in the Survey which aims to document the backgrounds, education and training of staff and leaders across countries, as well as their pedagogical and professional practices.

 

Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills, highlighted the importance of high-quality early education, saying “We take it for granted that all children attend school, but enrolment in early childhood programs varies greatly across countries, and provision is often fragmented. We need to better understand the services available to families during the critical early childhood period.”

 

The results of the survey also show that in all participating countries, staff identified a strong need for continued in-service training, particularly for working with children with additional needs. 

 

The most common barrier to participation in professional development, as reported by 56 per cent of staff in pre-primary education, is a lack of personnel to compensate for absences. Staff with higher levels of pre-service education are also more likely to participate in professional development activities.

 

Other key findings included:

 

 

  • ECEC staff profile

 

 

Over 95 per cent of staff in ECEC centres are women. Their education and training varies across countries, but a majority of the workforce has post-secondary education. Staff generally like their jobs, but not their pay: in all countries, fewer than four in ten staff are satisfied with their salaries.

 

 

  • Common practices used by staff

 

 

Across countries, staff report making broad use of practices to facilitate children’s socio-emotional development (such as encouraging children to help each other) or practices to facilitate children’s language development (such as singing songs or rhymes). Staff use of practices to support children’s literacy and numeracy development, however, is more varied across countries.

 

 

  • Staff views on what governments should do for ECEC

 

 

Reducing group sizes, improving staff salaries and receiving support for children with special needs are top spending priorities for staff if the sector’s budget was increased. These spending priorities also reflect staff’s top sources of work-related stress.

 

Leaders of ECEC centres also say that inadequate resources for their centres and staff shortages are the main barriers to their effectiveness.

 

The report outlines several implications for ECEC policies, should changes to this space be made, including:

 

  • Promoting practices in ECEC that foster children’s learning, development and well-being, including by offering applied education and training programs.

 

  • Attracting and retaining a high-quality workforce, for example by reducing sources of stress and instability in the profession.

 

  • Giving a strong start to all children by allocating resources to provide additional support where needed.

 

  • Ensuring smart spending in view of complex governance and service provision, for example by developing monitoring frameworks that support quality and empower ECEC leaders.

 

The report is available to review here. 

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