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In October and November, the cities of Espoo, Helsinki, Kauniainen and Vantaa organised a joint client survey for the guardians of children in municipal and private early childhood education and pre-primary education.

The guardians of children attending early childhood education and pre-primary education are mainly very satisfied with the education services provided in the capital region.

This is shown by the results of the joint municipal survey.

Espoo, Helsinki, Kauniainen and Vantaa organised the survey for the guardians of children in municipal and private early childhood education and pre-primary education between 26 October and 9 November 2022. The survey was aimed at all guardians of children attending early childhood education or pre-primary education in Finnish or Swedish. The survey also collected children's views on early childhood education and pre-primary education.

The survey was available in seven languages: Finnish, Swedish, English, Estonian, Russian, Arabic and Somali. Innolink Oy was responsible for the technical implementation of the survey. A total of 17,374 respondents took part in the survey.

"The response rate and the number of respondents increased from the previous survey in all municipalities, which makes me very happy. I want to thank all children and guardians who took the time to take the survey. It provides us with valuable information," says Virpi Mattila, the City of Espoo's Director of Early Childhood Education.

Guardians value quality and diversity

In the survey, guardians assessed statements concerning early childhood education on a scale of 1 to 7, in which scores 1–3 are negative, 4 is neutral and 5–7 are positive.

Guardians gave the best scores to the way in which they have been treated (average score 6.4). Most guardians feel that they are treated in a respectful and friendly manner at their child's early childhood education or pre-primary education unit (95% of the respondents somewhat, mostly or fully agreed with the statement). Almost as many respondents stated that their child enjoys attending early childhood education or pre-primary education (94% gave a positive assessment). 92% of the guardians stated that their child has the opportunity to take part in varied activities and play as part of early childhood education or pre-primary education, and 90% said that their child has friends at their early childhood education or pre-primary education unit.

Among the guardians who responded to the survey, 92% feel that their child's safety and wellbeing are well looked after at the early childhood education or pre-primary education unit.

Based on the survey results, capital region guardians are almost as satisfied with early childhood education and pre-primary education as they were at the time of the previous survey in 2020.

Guardians were also asked to give an overall grade to early childhood education and pre-primary education using the school grading scale of 4 to 10. The respondents gave an overall grade of 8.8 (8.9 in 2020).

Based on the results, guardians are still very satisfied with their children's early childhood education and pre-primary education. There was a slight decline in the results with regard to individual statements (change in the average –0.1) in comparison with the previous survey in 2020, but the overall results have remained very good.

In spite of the challenges related to staff availability, the capital region municipalities have managed to maintain the quality of early childhood education and client satisfaction at a high level. A big thank you goes to early childhood education staff and supervisors.

According to Miia Kemppi, Head of Early Childhood Education at the City of Helsinki, good work and successes in the sector do not always gain public visibility.

"It is important that we discuss the development needs, but we should also keep in mind that the big picture is more varied. In the future, we need to communicate more actively about the long-term development and successes in the sector, also externally, to give people a wider understanding of early childhood education," Miia Kemppi says.

Children's inclusion must be developed

This was the second survey in which some of the questions were also aimed at children. For example, children were asked what they like and dislike about early childhood education. Children's favourite things are friends and play, while they do not like bullying, hitting, pushing or naptime.

According to guardians, the area that needs to be developed the most is children's opportunities to influence early childhood education activities (average score 5.3 on a scale of 1–7).

"A person's growth into an active citizen starts at an early age. When a child's opinion is taken into account, they feel that they are able to influence their own life and environment. Listening to children requires sensitivity and professional skills from us adults," says Katjamaria Halme, Development Manager of Early Childhood Education at the City of Vantaa.

The four municipalities will now go through their city-specific results, and each early childhood education unit will also receive a report of their results. The results will be used to develop early childhood education activities.

The plan is to conduct the next client survey in 2024.

HT

Source: City of Espoo

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