Irish Montessori Education Board - Bord Oideachais Montessori Eireann

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Introduction of a free Pre-School Year
in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

13th May 2009 - Meeting with Office of Minister for Children

Members of the Irish Montessori Education Board Trust Limited (IMEB) met with officials at the Office of Minister for Children on 13th May 2009 and outlined the issues and concerns with the free pre-school year as communicated to us by telephone and email by teachers in IMEB accredited schools.

The Irish Montessori Education Board welcomed the introduction of a free pre-school place for all children aged between 3-and 4-years-old from January2010 as a positive step in that the Government recognises the value of quality Early Childhood Education and Care. However it is now obvious that the grant will only partially meet the running costs of any quality early childhood education provision.

The Irish Montessori Education Board (IMEB) is the accrediting body for Montessori Schools in Ireland. It was set up at the behest of the Department of Education and Science and with their support to accredit Montessori Schools in Ireland. The Department of Education and Science having considered the education programme provided in IMEB registered schools and the extent to which this programme corresponds to the curriculum taught in a recognised school is satisfied that IMEB schools are schools providing an educational programme similar to a national school. The Irish Education Board has worked with the Department of Education and Science since its inception. The department can speak in relation to the quality of the educational programme. All research evidence from experience in this country and abroad indicates that high quality pre-school education can play an important part in offsetting the effects of social disadvantage and in preventing educational disadvantage.

Teachers in IMEB accredited Montessori Schools have third level qualifications or equivalent Montessori qualifications with restricted recognition from Department of Education and Science. (Circular 25/00).The free preschool scheme has labour cost implication for theses schools and job losses are inevitable. Montessori teachers are specialist in early childhood education the focus of this scheme and also in special education. 

Montessori Schools accredited by the Irish Montessori Education Board have made significant capital investment without any government funding in order to provide high quality Montessori education. This investment is now in jeopardy because of the restriction on parents to have the fees for Montessori education reduced by the capitation grant provided under the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).  The administrative costs of theses school is transparent and its is evident that the capitation grant will not cover these  costs. The scheme will exclude Montessori School or render them unsustainable. The loss of these places in early education is significant and has implications for both children their parents and teachers.

Montessori Schools would not be in a position to opt into the scheme creating an inequitable situation for children as all children are entitled to this capitation grant. Parents in the current economic will not have a choice in the educational provision they wish for their child.

The Irish Montessori Education Board is open to discussion in relation to these concerns and would like the opportunity to work with all interested parties to secure a resolution.

Montessori Schools have to confirm enrolments now for the September 2009 consequently a resolution as soon as possible will ensure the viability of these schools and secure the placements for children.

We await a response which we expect before the end of May and we will communicate this to you as soon as it comes to us.

Mina Walsh, Company Secretary
Irish Montessori Education Board Trust Limited


Kingston House, 64 Patrick Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.  Tel/Fax: 01 - 280 5705  email: