Early Years Practice Programme

Strengthening Foundations of Learning (SFL) is a professional development programme that focuses on enhancing children’s experience of early childhood education and care.  The programme is a component of Preparing for Life prevention and intervention project in Dublin 5, 13 and 17.  The first phase of the SFL Programme was comprehensively evaluated by Professor Nóirín Hayes of Trinity College Dublin with findings indicating measurable impact on pedagogical practices which lead to better developmental and educational outcomes for children (full report available on our website www.preparingforlife.ie).

This quality and professional development programme is grounded in the principles of Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and Síolta: The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education.  The concepts of social and emotional well-being for young children and infant mental health are embedded within the programme.  The key areas on which the Strengthening Foundations of Learning Programme seeks to make a positive impact are:

  • Relationship-based early years practice (promoting secure attachment)
  • Curriculum foundations
  • The learning environment
  • Planning and assessment of learning and for learning
  • Communication and oral language development
  • Pedagogical leadership and professional identity

The SFL Programme provides training and mentoring to Early Years Educators supporting participants to apply theory to their curriculum, environment and interactions with children, embedding effective pedagogical strategies into their practice and provision.

Research demonstrates that the quality of early childhood education and care has a direct impact on outcomes for children. By providing training and mentoring supports to enhance early childhood professional practice, we will provide children in our area with high quality early years experiences which will:
  • support their learning and development
  • enrich their oral language
  • develop their social skills, resilience and well-being
  • increase their potential for further learning

This programme is specifically designed for Early Years educators, managers and service providers who work in community based not-for-profit Early Childhood Care and Education settings within the Northside Partnership catchment area.

March 2019 – Launch of Evaluation of Strengthening Foundations of Learning

The final evaluation report of SFL was launched on March 4th in Hilton Hotel Dublin Airport and was attended by many key figures from both early years community and prevention and early intervention community.

Full report can be found here

Executive report can be found here

May 2016 – Planning and Assessing Cluster Groups

Early years practitioners from 3 partner early years settings attended an Aistear cluster group to develop Aistear learning experiences. Cluster groups take place every three months and provide ongoing support for practitioners who have completed Planning and Assessing training with Preparing for Life. Planning and assessing training supports practitioners to implement an emergent and inquiry-based curriculum in their setting. Practitioners are trained to use tools and templates from the Aistear Síolta practice guide(link is external).

To view learning experiences from Doras Bui, click here and here.To view learning experiences from Moatview Early Years Education Centre, click here. To view learning experiences from Darndale Belcamp Integrated Childcare Service, click here and here.

December 2015 – Language for Life Graduation

On 15th December, Preparing for Life’s Early Years team hosted a special end of year event in the Hilton Hotel where Professor Noirín Hayes presented certificates to early years educators who took part in our most recent Language for Life training programme. Click here for more information.


October 2015 – Planning and Assessing training begins

Preparing for Life’s planning and assessing training supports settings to use tools and techniques from the newly published Aistear Síolta Practice Guide. For more information on the planning and assessing programme, click here. For more information on the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide, click here(link is external).


September 2015 – Introduction to Leadership for Partner Early Years Settings

Leaders from four of Preparing for Life’s partner early years settings began leadership training on the on 29th September. The group sessions, led by Emma Byrne Mc Namee, provide a taster of continuing professional development (CPD) workshops planned for 2016 in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin. For more information on the group sessions click here. For more information on upcoming CPD with Trinity College Dublin contact Emma Byrne McNamee, Early Years Programmes Manager.

April 2015 – First Language for Life Programme

From January to April 2015, 15 early years educators took part in our first Language for Life programme. To mark the conclusion of the programme, participants were presented with certificates of completion on 15th June 2015. For more information on the event, click here. For more information on the Language for Life programme, click here.


June 2014 – Strengthening Foundations of Learning Induction

From January to June 2014, 60 early years professionals took part in our Early Years Induction Programme. During the programme, participants developed curriculum statements which are now on display in all of our partner settings, helping to make children’s learning visible to parents. For more information on the Induction Programme and final event, click here. To view sample curriculum statements, click on the links below.

Bunratty Community Childcare Curriculum Statement
Moatview Early Education Centre Curriculum Statement
New Life Centre Curriculum Statement
Jigsaw – Darndale Belcamp Integrated Childcare Centre Curriculum Statement 

September 2013 – Strengthening Foundations of Learning; A New Early Years Practice Programme

September saw the launch of our new early years practice programme, Strengthening Foundations of Learning.  For more information on our new practice programme, please click here.

Leah Russell, Early Years Coordinator
(087) 921-5435
Sandra Cully, Early Years Mentor
(087) 738-4037

February 2016 – Preparing for Life Partner Early Years Setting Presents at National ABC Programme Event

On Wednesday 17th February, Preparing for Life’s Early Years team was out in force to support Jigsaw Manager, Kelda Barnes, as she presented to a national audience at an ABC Learning Community Event which was held in the historic Dublin Castle. For more information on the event, click here.


February 2016 – Partner Early Years Educators Visit ReCreate in Tallaght

Early years educators from 6 local early years settings took part in an arts workshop in ReCreate, Tallaght on 3rd February organised by our Early Years team. For more information on the visit, click here.


December 2015 – Language for Life showcased at Dublin Castle

Participants from our Language for Life programme showcased their work at the Early Years Education Forum in Dublin Castle on the 15th December 2015. The event, hosted by the Early Years Education Policy Unit (Department of Education and Skills) included a keynote address from Professor Paul Leseman from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and presentations from Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan. For more information on the event, click here. For more information on Language for Life, click here.


August 2015 – Our Early Years Practice Programme Participants are Included in Aistear Síolta Practice Guide

Settings taking part in Preparing for Life’s Early Years Practice Programme are featured on the NCCA’s Aistear Síolta Practice Guide website. Click here for more information.


May 2013 – Local Early Years Settings Receive Prestigious Award

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald, visited Preparing for Life to present local early years settings with the Síolta Validation Award. The Síolta Quality Assurance Process is the only nationally recognised, government accredited quality assurance programme for early childhood (Birth to 6 years). For more information and to see photos from the event, click here.

October 2009 – Síolta Readiness for Change Publication

Síolta is the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and details best practice standards for early childhood care and education in Ireland. This report examines staff perceptions and attitudes towards Síolta before taking part in the pilot Siolta Quality Assurance process with Preparing for Life. This report outlines 11 local settings’ self-reported readiness for change before taking part in the Síolta programme.  For more information and to read the full report, click here.