Quality in early childhood education is a prominent concern for policy-makers, and has recently become a priority concern for many international and European organisations. These include the OECD, UNESCO, UNICEF, the European Commission, Eurydice and the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, among others. Over the past three years (2015–2017), the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (the Agency) has examined the latest policy documents and relevant research in this field. This has been a springboard for exploring the main characteristics of quality inclusive early childhood education (IECE) for all children from three years of age to the start of primary education.
This report first sets out the main policy and practice developments towards inclusive early childhood education, with particular reference to European policy issues (Chapters 2–3). It then presents the project’s three new contributions towards improving quality inclusive early childhood education (Chapters 4–6). These are:
1. A clear rationale for and an analysis of the implications of adopting an inclusive vision and goals
2. A new Self-Reflection Tool
3. A new Ecosystem Model of Inclusive Early Childhood Education
Finally, the report gives an account of the lessons learned during the three-year project and the resulting recommendations (Chapter 7). These are presented within the framework of the new Ecosystem Model of IECE. They are mainly directed at policymakers, but they also point to the implications for practitioners. Indeed, they are formulated in terms of how policy-makers can support practitioners to ensure quality provisions.