The Quality and Regulatory Framework (QRF) sets out in a clear way how the early years inspectorate assess services for compliance with the regulations. It aims to provide information and clarification for providers and stakeholders on these requirements. The QRF was launched in September 2018 following an extensive period of development which involved widespread consultation across the early years sector. All Tusla registered early years providers received a copy of the QRF specific to their service type in November 2018.
In December 2018, Tusla Early Years Inspectorate wrote to providers asking for volunteers to take part in a pilot programme for inspections based on the QRF. The main objective of inspection based on the QRF is to ensure that Tusla early years inspections add value, by providing reports that are easier to understand for parents and that providers and staff can use the information in the inspection reports to continually improve the quality of provision and meet the requirements of the regulations. After receiving over one hundred positive responses, pilot inspections were undertaken at the beginning of 2019 and feedback from those services which took part in the pilot inspections was again very positive.
Following this successful pilot, Tusla commenced with a small number of inspections using the Quality and Regulatory Framework in early December 2019. All inspections of early years services continue to be inspected against the requirements of the 2016 regulations. Tusla will continue to introduce the QRF format into the inspection process, through a phased approach in 2020. Early years providers who receive an inspection under the QRF will experience very little difference from previous inspections. The Early Years Inspectorate will be clear about the areas they are focusing on during the inspection and will provide the usual detailed feedback at the end of the day of the inspection. Minor changes have been made to the structure of the early years inspection report which will make reports easier for providers and parents to read. The Corrective and Preventive Action and Factual Accuracy processes will take place as usual prior to the publication of the report.
A further development which will support early years providers, staff and students is the QRF eLearning programme. This eLearning programme which will be available on our website in March 2020 will be freely available and accessible to all providers and their staff. The aim of the programme is to support the sector to maintain compliance with the 2016 Early Years Regulations which will support higher levels of quality experiences for young children.