Due to the importance of early childhood education, Australia and Finland have several regulations that ensure quality in the development of children’s skills (OECD, 2017). The main similarity that both countries share is the importance of play in the curriculum.
In the case of Finland, the curriculum guidelines take into consideration children’s potential and tries to bring it out through play and creative activities (Hakkarainen, 2008). In Australia, the integrated framework has the goal of ensuring that educators incorporate play in the curriculum to provide high quality education (Myck-Wayne, 2010).
However, both countries are not the same. Regulations and quality standards have several differences in both counties.For example, Australia regulates early childhood services through assessment and rating inspections, monitoring that early childhood settings satisfy the quality benchmark set up in the National Quality Standards (OECD, 2015).
Finland, however, does not have a similar benchmark. Whilst Finland does regulate service and staff quality through inspections, their monitoring services are not regulated, and it is hard to compare the quality of their services (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2015).
In addition, inspections are only done in response to complaints. This is due to Finland’s integrated ECEC system that decentralises monitoring responsibilities to the municipalities, meaning that it is difficult to evaluate quality (OECD, 2015). That being said, Finland still raises high quality educators that focus on individually tailored early childhood education, being one of the main goals in the Finish policy document (Alasuutari & Alasuutari, 2012).
Whilst it is hard to evaluate quality in Finland, Finland’s regulations have placed high expectations for ECEC and high minimum staff qualifications, ensuring high quality across all early childhood settings (OECD, 2015). In fact, focus on children development is a top priority that it has one of the most favourable staff-child ratio in comparison to Australia (OECD, 2015).
Moreover, Finland has a strong focus on regulatory aspects and high quality to the point that the government and employer subside all the training cost for professional training, in comparison to Australia where the employee also bares the cost (Taguma, Litjens, & Makowiecki, 2012).
However, when it comes to training, Australia’s regulation has placed more training on evaluators and assessors when it is necessary to evaluate quality, something that it is not implemented on Finland due to their lack of a monitoring system (OECD, 2015).When it comes to regulate children’s development, makes use of several monitoring tools and narrative assessment to identify the individual growth of each child (Hakkarainen, 2008).
In addition, Finland’ Ministry implements these tools for feedback purposes on their regulations and future changes, taking into consideration the point of view of children and staff about the current ECEC services and how can it change to further improve quality (OECD, 2015).