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Early Years is the term employed for the period between birth and the age of six. The preschool year just before starting primary school is that part of Early Years provision which forms the focus of this paper. Free places in pre-school education are offered to all three-year-olds in Northern Ireland, prior to starting primary school. Funding is allocated to the child, which then goes directly to the provider. The aim is for the Department of Education “…to provide one year of non-compulsory pre-school education to every child in their immediate pre-school year whose family want it”.1 Most parents take advantage of this offer for their children. Sometimes known as Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), this experience of education before formal schooling begins has been shown to considerably improve life chances and to be important in contributing towards the process of building a shared society. This briefing paper will examine pre-school provision in Northern Ireland, the degree to which that provision is fragmented and the factors which influence those divisions.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIntegrated Education Fund
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 18 Nov 2020


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