The Office of Education Standards (OES) has announced the successful completion of its comprehensive early childhood inspection framework, First Steps to Success: Nurturing Environments and Thriving Children. This bespoke framework, written specifically for the unique needs of the early childhood sector in the Cayman Islands, aims to improve outcomes for children from birth to compulsory school age.
The Office of Education Standards achieved the significant milestone by partnering with an international early years consultant and securing cross-sectoral support from entities such as the Ministry of Education, Department of Education Services, Cayman Islands Associate Inspectors, the Cayman Islands Early Childhood Association and a Core Working Group. The consultative approach utilised throughout the process ensured local staff and school and centre leaders were integrally involved throughout and has resulted in greater ownership of the framework.
Additionally, several early childhood settings worked with the OES to pilot the draft framework through visits in mid-2023 and leaders provided invaluable feedback at that time. As a result of this collaborative process, the OES, together with stakeholders, has defined the agreed expectations for different elements of early childhood performance.
First Steps to Success: Nurturing Environments and Thriving Children delineates seven performance standards and numerous quality indicators that mirror the values, skills, dispositions, knowledge and practices essential for fostering high-quality early childhood care and education. The framework also provides many exemplars of sector-leading standards to promote high-quality experiences and outcomes for our youngest learners.
The early childhood inspection framework is designed not only as an inspection tool, but also as a useful resource to support owners, leaders and staff of early childhood settings in their self-evaluation process - an assessment of their own early childhood setting’s practices and provisions. Accurate self-evaluation supports owners, leaders and staff to identify strengths and weaknesses, thus fostering continuous development and ensuring quality.
In September 2023, the Office of Education Standards issued an open invitation to owners, leaders and staff of early childhood settings, to encourage their active engagement in a series of familiarisation sessions. The primary objective of these sessions was to ensure all stakeholders had a comprehensive understanding of the new framework before its integration into the inspection process. The new inspection framework will be utilised for inspections of early childhood settings beginning in January 2024 and is available for download in the ‘Resources’ section of the Office of Education Standards’ website: www.oes.gov.ky.
The Office of Education Standards believes that the early childhood inspection framework will have a positive impact on assessing and enhancing educational outcomes for the Islands’ youngest children.