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Early Years


A child’s early years are fundamental to their prospects in life.

Giving children the best possible start in life is a shared priority across the British-Irish Council’s eight member administrations.

The Early Years Work Sector’s current focus encompasses, amongst other things, the workforce to support early years development, addressing child poverty, improving childhood experience, and advancing child development.

Lead Administration

The Early Years Work Sector was established in September 2008 and is chaired by the Welsh Government.

Current Focus

In October 2023, Ministers agreed a new programme for the work sector at a meeting hosted by the UK Government. The work sector’s current focus is on:

  • Early Years Workforce – exploring professional registration, qualifications, recruitment and retention, and childminders.
  • Childhood experience – looking at integrated services, play and transition from early years settings into education.
  • Child poverty – considering models of provision that are effective in helping close the attainment gap, as well as supporting parents into employment.
  • Child development – with a particular focus on the importance of parental engagement, as well as on early diagnosis for children with special needs.