The purpose of this study was to understand the components that determine quality early childhood education and Care (ECEC) from the views of practitioners and parents participating in the ECCE Scheme (2010). A major component of quality ECCE as identified by practitioners in this study related to professionalism in ECEC. This paper presents a critical view on traditional perspectives on what it means to be a professional within the context of ECCE. It seems that within the ECCE model, a professional practitioner is one who finds purpose in their work. However, they are also experts in ECCE. That is, a professional practitioner is knowledgeable in ECCE has a deep sense of respect and love for childhood as a distinct period in human growth and develop. These characteristics are the embodiment of a professional practitioner. To describe this phenomenon, this research coins the term “professional purpose.”


Professional Identity, Professionalism, Vocation, Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)

Author Bio(s)

Dr Ayooluwa Yewande Oke is the founder of TeachKloud, a digital management application for early childhood services. She also works as an early childhood consultant, specialising in the development of regulatory compliance frameworks for early childhood inspection agencies. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: ayooluwa.oke@mycit.ie.

Dr Judith E. Butler is course coordinator of the BA in Early Childhood Education & Care at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). Judith supervises postgraduate research and lectures in Developmental, Educational & Child Psychology. Judith has extensive experience working with & on behalf of children & is currently the National President of OMEP Ireland, the mission of which is to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood experiences by supporting early years research. Judith is an editor of An Leanbh Óg- the Irish Journal of Early Childhood Studies.

Dr Cian O’ Neill is the Head of the Dept. of Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies at Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland. As the former Director of Physical Education at the University of Limerick, O’ Neill’s research interests in the educational domain focus on initial teacher education (ITE) with an emphasis in Physical Education and the School Placement experience (formerly known as Teaching Practice). Other research interests include the physiological measurement of elite sports performance and the role of performance analysis in coaching science.

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