The best possible education in early years in focus at the Great Start in Life conference

During the conference, Great Start in Life! The best Possible education in Early Years 30 November -1 December 2016, researchers, policy makers and practitioners (teachers, educators) exchanged experiences and expectations of their work with children from 0-12 years.

High quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) and primary school can provide a solid base for best possible education outcomes and prevent early school leaving. Both share some common challenges, which is why the conference aimed to find answers to these challenges and learn between the two sectors by sharing ideas and lessons. Professionals from different countries and backgrounds participated in order to learn from each other, to create knowledge together, to strengthen networking across practice, research and policy, and to improve evidence-based policy-making.

The key note speeches presented amongst other latest research results, approaches and pedagogies in practice, and a reflection on the current state of quality and inclusiveness in early education in the EU. During five parallel workshops the participants discussed the topics (1) access and inclusion, (2) ECEC and primary school professionals, (3) governance and funding, (4) monitoring and evaluation, and (5) curriculum and pedagogies

The input from the plenaries and workshops will be channelled to the on-going policy processes, for example:

  • Thoughts on 21st century skills for children will be useful for the review of the key competences framework.
  • Conclusions on diversity and language development will be element for the Commission's work on integrating third country nationals.
  • The identified gaps in our knowledge on early childhood and primary schools will help to define priorities for the Erasmus+ and Horizon2020 programs.
  • The Working Group Schools will take on the ideas on education continuum and transitions.

Great Start in Life

For more pictures, and drawings from the conference explore the twitter hastag #greatstartinlife

Recent policy initiatives of the European Commission on early education: 
The Paris Declaration (2015) is about values and inclusion, and recognizes that ensuring access to good quality ECEC for disadvantaged children is crucial. 

Communication on preventing radicalisation (2016) points to the need for inclusive education from the very start, as well as the Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals

Previous Working Groups prepared the quality framework for ECEC and the whole school approach to tackling early school leaving.