Step by Step Centre for Quality in Education operates under the auspices of Educational Research Institute since 1997 (founded as Developmental Research Centre for Pedagogical Initiatives Step by Step). The Step by Step (Sbs) programme was initiated by the Open Society Institute-Slovenia in 1994 while its actual execution commenced a year later.
The Centre aims at high-quality education and initiation of changes in the educational system through professional development of ECEC practitioners and primary school teachers. Its activities are based on equal opportunities, principles of democratic civil society, children’s and parents’ rights, contemporary knowledge of the child’s development and learning, and different influences on them. Special attention is dedicated to vulnerable groups.
Professional development of ECEC practitioners and primary school teachers is supported within the Network for changing Quality Step by Step, by further education and training programmes, and by action and participatory research in the context of various initiatives and projects.
The work results of the Step by Step Centre for Quality in Education comply with its stated mission, vision and values.
Beliefs and Values
Step by Step Centre for Quality in Education (SbS Centre) advocates high-quality education and care based on the principle of equal opportunities.
From its very conception, the work, activities and programmes of the SbS Centre have been based on the following:
- All children have equal rights to access high-quality education and care in order to reach their full potential.
- Special attention needs to be paid to children from socially vulnerable families, minorities and ethnic groups as well as other marginalised groups of children.
- Early childhood experiences are the cornerstone for developing a strong foundation for learning and active participation in society later in life.
- Active inclusion of families in education process is a necessary prerequisite for child's success and lasting effects of education.
- Continuous promotion of high-quality education and care, and professional development of ECEC professionals are a necessary prerequisite for child's success and lasting effects of education.
- Active inclusion and participation of all stakeholders in the community (service integration) are the main insurance for creating adequate conditions for a higher quality of life for children, families, professionals and educational institutions.
- Education and care based on respecting diversity, differences and uniqueness of individuals and families are the only way to prepare the child for the challenges of the 21st century.
- Child-centred approaches, which are in compliance with individual needs of each child, are the most optimal.
Based on these beliefs we respect, appreciate and promote the following values:
From the very beginning, the mission of the Centre is focused on research, development, introduction and evaluation of educational initiatives, which contribute to developing full potential of each child, enable them equal education possibilities and are directed towards developing quality education and care.
Through the course of its 20-year existence, the Centre has not changed its mission:
We enable all children to gain access to high-quality education and care and fully realise their unique potential.
Despite the fact that the majority of the Centre’s activities are intended for ECEC practitioners and primary school teachers, children and offering them the best conditions for their development and learning is still the main focus of the Centre’s work. There are some key points that support our mission:
“All children” – because we are bound to protect the right to education and equal opportunity by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the recommendations contained in the White Paper on Education in the Republic of Slovenia (1995, 2011), which are based on the Convention.
“Access” – in Europe, children from ethnic minorities and low-income families are facing increasing difficulties in accessing ECEC programmes (Vandenbroeck and Lazzari, 2013); it is these children that benefit from high-quality ECEC programmes the most, but only if they are placed in socially mixed groups (Sylva et al., 2004). Because reliably defining target groups is difficult in practice and focusing exclusively on marginalised and vulnerable groups may lead to stigmatisation and more commonplace segregation in education programmes later on, the focus needs to be on providing universal access to all children (Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency, 2009; European Commission, 2011; Key principles of a Quality Framework, 2014; OECD, 2001, 2006).
“High-quality” – the higher the quality of a practice that involves professional training; warm and responsive interactions of professionals based on the needs of a child; and effective practice, the higher the impact both on the child’s cognitive as well as social and behavioural development (Sylva et al., 2004). The White Paper (2011, p. 16) defines quality of education and care as one of the general objectives of education and care, while the SbS Centre believes quality to be a condition for ensuring equal opportunity and vice versa.
“Fully realise” – in addition to developing cognitive skills, it is important that the child develops skills for self-regulated learning, problem solving and independent and group work in early childhood, which makes it vital to create and implement a curriculum that enables the child to develop social and emotional competences and self-regulation, intrinsic motivation for learning and the ability to work with others (in addition to cognitive skills) in equal measure (Leseman, 2009, p. 15).
“Unique potential” – every child is their own person; only a stimulating learning environment coupled with competent educators who respond to the diverse needs of individual children and their families can provide the conditions in preschools for each individual child to realise their full unique potential.
Developmental Research Centre for Pedagogical Initiatives Step by Step redesignates as Step by Step Centre for Quality in Education
Foundation of Developmental Research Centre for Pedagogical Initiatives Step by Step and relocation from Open Society Foundations to Educational Research Institute.
Execution of the programme. Educational Research Institute acquires the status of a public research institution and becomes an independent research institution.
Initiation of the Step by Step programme under the Open Society Foundation.
Educational Research Institute is established by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia.
From its foundation in 1999, Step by Step Centre for Quality in Education is a full member of the following international organisations: International Step by Step Association (ISSA), Early Years Regional Alliance and Romani Early Years Network.
The Centre cooperates with the Open Society Foundation from the beginning of introducing the programme Step by Step (1994).
Step by Step Centre for Quality in Education works under the auspices of Educational Research Institute.