Unit focuses on the youngest

Cayman’s first Early Childhood Unit has been formed by the Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture to address the educational and welfare needs of young children across the islands.

Mrs. Kate Marnoch, left, and Mrs. Marjorie Beckles

Mrs. Kate Marnoch, left, and Mrs. Marjorie Beckles.
Photo: Submitted

The unit provides for the development of an Early Years unit to set standards, evaluate performance and support improvements in day-care centres, pre-schools and Reception programmes.

‘The opening of the Early Childhood Unit is an encouraging step for us as it ushers in a new era in the provision of care and education for our youngest and also signifies that the government’s reform of education is steadily gathering momentum and starting to yield tangible results,’ said Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin. ‘Our objectives for education are varied and ambitious, but as we move our strategies from their intensive planning phases into implementation phases over the coming weeks, I anticipate that we will see more similar examples of our efforts bearing fruit’.

The unit is to develop national standards on the provision and outcomes of childcare settings and early childhood education in general.

It will ensure that all facilities operate within the law, following Education Council Guidelines and maintain high standards of care and education.

The Early Childhood Unit is headed-up by Mrs. Kate Marnoch, a schools’ Inspector from the UK who specialises in early education.

Mrs. Marnoch is also an experienced primary school teacher, parent and was senior education adviser in the UK and a national trainer for the Foundation Stage Curriculum and the Birth to Three Matters Framework, which guides all British pre-schools, day nurseries and reception classes.

Working closely with Mrs. Marnoch to realize the development programme will be Mrs. Marjorie Beckles, a Caymanian education officer of 17 years specializing in the provision of early years care and services. Mrs. Beckles will join the ECU 1 September.

Mrs. Marnoch explained that the Early Years Unit will work alongside preschool operators, owners and staff to ensure that national standards are developed, understood and implemented.

‘We will positively affect the initial learning experience for all children, from birth to five-years-old during these important foundation years,’ she said. ‘This will bring lasting positive rewards throughout their school years, and their entire lives. As a result, their parents, families and communities will also benefit.’

The unit’s plans include a self-evaluation model as well as an inspection programme. A handbook will be developed for early years staff and inspectors, concurrent with annual inspections and reports on the local status of early childhood education.

The unit will see that qualified staff possesses expertise in child development and a clear understanding of how young children grow and learn.

The Early Childhood Unit seeks to ensure that young children will have opportunities to play, explore, discover, experiment, problem-solve, make friendships and develop self-confidence in safe, secure and stimulating environments. It will be looking at the basic provision of clean, hygienic facilities with good water and nutritious food as well as shaded space for toddlers to run, climb and explore.

For more information on the Early Childhood Unit, please contact Mrs. Kate Marnoch at 945 – 7635, fax 945 6309, or e-mail: [email protected].

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