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CARE project

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Alice Tawell
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This report considers the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) curriculum throughout Europe. It explores the official curriculum, specified by national or regional governments, along with the implemented curriculum that is provided ‘on the ground’ by staff to enhance children’s development. The official curriculum documents at national or regional level are often called ‘steering documents’. Moreover, the implemented curriculum is sometimes called the ‘experienced’ or the ‘realised’ curriculum, i.e., what the staff realise in their daily practice and what the children experience day by day. The CARE project has studied European curriculum in three ways: (1) by developing a template according to which the 11 partners in the CARE Consortium described the curriculum in their own countries; (2) by analysing the responses of our partners across 11 countries to the CARE curriculum template, with the aim of identifying commonalities and differences in the broadly representative sample that comprises the CARE consortium; (3) by considering information from the templates in light of selected research literature on effectiveness - NOT through a formal literature review which is the task of another Work Package in the CARE project (Melhuish et al., forthcoming) - but by comparing the template findings with widely cited, key studies. The analytic template originated as a series of questions at a curriculum conference held in Oxford (March 2014). This template was further refined as members of the CARE consortium provided information about ECEC in their home countries. The conclusions and recommendations presented in this report are based on analysis of the completed country templates (i.e. the survey of countries represented in the CARE Consortium), but also on recent EU reports and selected international literature.
Instrument: Collaborative project Call Identifier: FP7-SSH-2013-2 Early childhood education and care: promoting quality for individual, social and economic benefits D4.1: A review of research on the effects of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) upon child development This report considers international research on the impact of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) provision upon children's development, using studies reported from a wide range of sources including journals, books, government reports and diverse organisation reports. High-quality childcare has been associated with benefits for children's development, with the strongest effects for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. There is also evidence that negative effects can sometimes occur. The results of studies partly depend upon the context and ECEC systems in place in different countries, but there is sufficient commonality of findings to indicate that many results are not culture-specific. Discrepant results may relate to age of starting and also differences in the quality of childcare. In addition, childcare effects are moderated by family background with negative, neutral and positive effects occurring depending on the relative balance of quality of care at home and in childcare. Recent large-scale studies find effects related to both quantity and quality of childcare. The effect sizes for childcare factors are about half those for family factors. The analysis strategy of most studies attributes variance to childcare factors only after family factors has been considered, and, where the two covary, this can produce conservative estimates of childcare effects.