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The ECD Quality Toolkit Pilot Project

ECD has many facets and gives rise to a number of benefits. Research shows that ECD can have a life-changing influence on children receiving essential services before entering formal schooling. Benefits to young children unfold into positive effects on the formal schooling system itself, which in turn influences social and economic development. However, ECD’s favourable impacts can only be fully achieved through quality provision.

The BRIDGE ECD Community of Practice set itself the goal of reaching a shared understanding of what exemplifies quality in ECD. The CoP developed a Quality Reflection Tool, which is a self-reflection tool aimed at helping practitioners explore different aspects of ECD in relation to their own experience. The tool is organised into four dimensions of quality as outlined below: quality in Teaching and Learning; quality in the ECD Environment; quality in ECD policies; and quality in ECD Leadership and Management.  Each dimension is divided into various elements, and each of these has a set of questions attached to it to help practitioners think through these aspects of quality, and what these mean in practice in their own contexts.

In order to test the tool in different contexts, and to mediate the quality discussions with practitioners, the ECD Quality Toolkit Pilot Project was developed. The pilot had the following aims.

1- To refine/ adapt the reflection tool by testing whether the questions encourage practitioners:

– To reflect on own practice

– To estimate own areas of strengths and weakness

– To identify potential areas for change

2- To test self-reflection as a methodology in the ECD sector

3- To gather data on practitioner views on dimensions of quality in which they need assistance/ resources / guidance

4- To use data to inform a subsequent phase of implementation

To read the full report on the pilot project, click here.The pilot was conducted as a collaborative project between BRIDGE and nine partner organisations drawn from the ECD Community of Practice. From March to May this year mediators from partner organisations visited 20 sites representing different site types and contexts across 6 provinces, holding ‘quality conversations’ based on the Reflection Tool with practitioners and observing teaching and learning activities on site. Mediators submitted reports on their site visits and a data analysis process was carried out. The pilot findings cover areas such as practitioner attitudes to reflective practice, practitioners’ understandings of quality, and areas in which practitioners felt they needed more support. Mediators in the project were generally impressed by the commitment shown by many principals and practitioners in ECD.

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one of the ECD sites visited in the pilot project.

A Classroom in a Pre-school in Bloubosrand was transformed after a ‘quality conversation’ with a mediator. The principal mobilised parents and teachers to share resources to put on the wall.