policy and practice

Policy and Practice Frames

The current Government changed the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs  from a junior ministry into a full department  in 2011. The new  Department of Children and Youth Affairs  has   responsibility for  harmonising policy issues that affect children in areas such as early childhood care and education, youth justice, child welfare and protection, children and young people's participation, research on children and young people, youth work and cross-cutting initiatives for children.
The new policy framework will provide a seamless, whole-of-childhood approach to policy making. It is intended that it will be the overarching framework for the future development of policies and services that will improve children and young people’s outcomes.
The policy framework will focus on the key developmental periods for children and young people;

  • Prenatal, infancy, early childhood (0 to 6 years)
  • Middle childhood years (6-12 years)
  • Adolescence and early adulthood (12 plus years)

All services delivered directly or funded by the state will operate under the the new Children’s Strategy"Better Outcomes Better Future"published 2014. The Strategy has devised an outcomes framework that consists of five pillars  and each pillar has a number of outcomes that all services must address. 

There is significant evidence of the need to change junior cycle provision. For example, a significant number of first-year students do not make progress in English and Mathematics. A number of second-year students disengage from their learning and in many instances, do not reconnect. The experience of many third-year students is dominated by preparation for the Junior Certificate examination where the emphasis is on rote learning and on rehearsing questions for the examination.

Ruari Quinn TD Minister for Education and Skills ASTI Conference 2013

Currently the Department of Education and Skills is introducing a new Junior Certificate due to commence in 2014. The new junior cycle is delivering a fundamental change to the junior students experience of their first cycle in second level and by placing students at the centre of the educational experience, providing an important curricular link with primary level education .

The implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle will enable post-primary schools to provide a quality, inclusive and relevant education with improved learning outcomes for all students

The Framework will enable schools to offer their students a three-year junior cycle experience that is both a progression from primary education and a preparation for senior cycle. The learning at the core of the proposed new junior cycle is described in twenty-four statements of learning. The statements, underpinned by eight principles, provide the basis for schools to plan for, design and evaluate their junior cycle programmes that meet the needs of their pupils.

In addition to literacy and numeracy skills, there are six other key skills required for successful learning by students for across the curriculum and for learning beyond school. Skills fit for the 21st Century.

These key skills are:

  1. Managing myself
  2. Staying well
  3. Communicating
  4. Being creative
  5. Working with others
  6. Managing information and thinking.



Two major operational reforms are taking place in relation to the DCYA’s   seamless “whole of childhood  approach”  being realised  the first was the movement of responsibility for educational welfare services including the NEWB, HSCL and SCP to the DYCA .
The second  is the establishment of the Child and Family Agency  which will assume full statutory responsibility for a range of child and family services currently provided by three separate agencies, namely, the HSE, the Family Support Agency and the  expanded National Educational Welfare Board.  In addition to CFA services DYCA are also responsible for youth services, including juvenile justice and pre school education.

The NEWB  as part of its shift from the DES into DCYA  and incorporation of the School Completion Programme and the Home School Community Liaison Service  under took a wide review of its service and the potential for going forward. The research programme included a review of international best practice, the development of an integrated assessment and support programme and the completion of a number of pilot programme to test provision.
The “Continuum of Needs / Support”  model developed by the NEWB locates the various service providers against the needs that are being presented by children and families in relation to school attendance . The diagram below illustrates how there are certain behaviours and issues that are beyond the competence of the NEWB and require more special support located. This multi agency response enable the correct service to be provided when required (in theory) the PEPS ( the psychological Educational Support Service) have a similar “continuum of Need/support” in operation for schools.

The expanded NEWB have developed a “One Child, One Team One Plan” approach to addressing educational attainment.  The One Child One Plan is rooted in a child centred approach where the needs in terms of school completion of the child are assessed and appropriate responses are made and delivered by the appropriate agency with the required skills.
Currently providers named by the NEWB servicing  level 1 and 2  include ; Schools, HSCL service, SCP, Education Welfare Officer, Other, and by the Student and Parent.
It is of note that youth services are not named as o ne of the services, particularly they now operate as part of the DYCA. It is possible the youth services may be considered as part of the “other” service category.
The One Child One Plan  aims  to achieve a set of stated outcomes and responsibility for achieving these will be that of an identified provider within a given time frame.
The matrix below provides the stated outcomes. The ones that are shaded are those that the Transition Projects could potentially impact on. These include the “transfer from primary to post primary successful” and the soft skills areas of intra and inter personals skills.

One Child One Plan  OUTCOMES

Improvement in Punctuality (A)

Reduction in Withdrawn and non-engaged behaviour (P)

Successful transition from home to first school place (R)

Improvement in Attendance (A)

Improvement in Social interaction with peers/staff (P)

Transfer from class to class successful (R)

Reduction in suspensions  (A)

Improvement in self-esteem and emotional awareness (P)

Transfer from primary to post primary successful (R)

Reduction in expulsions (A)

Improvement in test scores and attainment levels

Mainstream education placement secured after an alternative provision  (R)

Improvement in Readiness to learn (P)

Attendance at agreed clubs or groups (P)

Child moved from mainstream to alternative  provision (R)

Improvement in behaviour (P)

Home Tuition being provided (P)

School place secured for a child who has none (R)

Reduction in bullying others (P)

Access to and use of additional services  such as alcohol/drugs services (P)

Sitting the Junior or Leaving Certificate exams (R)




Table 2 NEWB Outcomes