Publications by ISSA Members

VBJK (Belgium)

NESET II Analytical Report, 2017

NESETII report on Professional Learning Communities is produced by VBJK in Ghent, Belgium. The complex multi-diverse societies in which we live, make it impossible today to find standardized solutions for all families/children. Therefore new competences like negotiation and reflection need to be integrated with additional forms of continues professional development (CPD) that focus on the active and democratic participation of staff. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are a valuable answer in this direction. PLCs can be described as ‘a group of people sharing and critically interrogating their practice in an on-going, reflective, collaborative, inclusive, learning-oriented, growth-promoting way’. The goal is not ‘being a professional learning community’, but improving wellbeing and learning for children and families. Competent systems are necessary to create and maintain PLCs. The latter require a multilevel network of competences, structural conditions, engagement, and awareness.

This report seeks to  1) providing a framework to explain the need for PLCs today; 2) offering a clear definition of the essential criteria that define a PLC, with concrete examples from several European countries; and 3) providing four in-depth case studies—from Belgium (Flanders), Croatia, Italy and Slovenia—which illustrate different ways of establishing and sustaining PLCs.
The study ends with specific conclusions and recommendations for policy makers in Member States.

It should be noted that the report focuses on services and schools for 0 to 12 years old children. However, the key concepts and conclusions could also be readapted for secondary school.



The High 5 Quality Scan

The High 5 Quality Scan is an evaluation tool based on the European Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care accompanying the Five Steps to Quality Training Package. This High 5 Scan is now also available in English.

This document offers childcare centres, nurseries, after-school care, and integrated childcare centres the ability to evaluate and improve their internal quality on these five principles.
This explicitly sets the link to the national pedagogical frameworks and curricula, and the organization’s own pedagogical policy. A reflective method where the involvement of all participants is crucial.

The training package was developed by Bureau Mutant and VBJK in the framework of the Peer Learning Activities supported and co-financed by ISSA in 2015/2016:


The training package5 Steps to Quality’ is promoting the implementation of the European Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (EQF) with the aim to building and improving the quality in early childhood education and care services at country and organisation level. The training focuses on awareness raising, reflection and dialogue on the five quality elements in the EQF (accessibility, workforce, curriculum, monitoring and evaluation, finance and governance), at the same time linking these five quality elements with the contextual country guidelines and laws.

The training package was developed by a cross-country team led by ISSA members Bureau Mutant (The Netherlands) and VBJK (Belgium) in 2015-2016, within a Peer Learning Activity supported financially by ISSA. A second Peer Learning Activity provided members from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Moldova and Montenegro and Slovenia with the opportunity to explore together with their colleagues in The Netherlands and Belgium how they can further use the training package in their respective countries. This publication is available in English.


Ieder kind een eigen verhaal: Samen verschillend in kindercentra / Each child its own story: Diversity in child care centers

Every child starting at a childcare centre (day care, preschool and afterschool care) brings along its own experiences and its own history. This is the reason for the title of this book: Each child its own story. Diversity in child care centres from brith to 13 years. A Child Care and Education Centre is like a micro society for children, families and professionals where diversity plays a key role among children, the adults and their ideas. The child care centre is a meeting place that gives a feeling of belonging to the child and where nobody is less or more important.
Each child its own story tells about respect for diversity, handling similarities and differences in issues like preferences, talents and cultural backgrounds. Attention is also paid to children with special needs. This publication has been written for parents, educators and teachers inviting them to learn from each other and to experience how diversity can broaden their horizons and their world. So they can encourage each child to feel welcome. The publication is based on the Dutch national pedagogical framework Diversity in child care centres 0-13 years’ (2012) from the same authors. This publication is available only on Dutch.

Anke van Keulen is social pedagogue and partner in Bureau MUTANT. She is specialized in quality pedagogy in child care centres and in respect for diversity.
Elly Singer is researcher, pedagogue and psychologist at the Universities of Utrecht and Amsterdam.



Together Old and Young: A training manual for intergenerational learning activities

Launched in 2012, the TOY project (Together Old and Young) is about bringing young children, up to 9 years old, together with older people for them to meet, get to know each other, learn and have fun. Funded by the European Commission and implemented in several European countries like The Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Poland, Ireland and Slovenia, the project counts now with a practical manual on how to organize intergenerational workshops.

The toolkit provides background information on this new learning approach, guidelines on how to structure and organize a TOY training workshop and five modules with examples of activities, hand-outs and additional research material.


A good start: how to introduce alternative early childhood education service in local communities 

Developed by the ISSA member, Comenius Foundation for Child Development in Poland and with the support of Bernard Van Leer Foundation, this publication provides arguments for investing in new forms of pre-school education, with an impressive range of practical tips on how to set up alternative early education services as well as strategies to engage communities and local authorities in. With the assistance of the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS, the Comenius Foundation has published a high valuable document including examples from all over Europe such as the Portuguese initiative of Itinerant Teachers, in which a certain number of educators travel across a region giving education and care to children at one of their homes as a way to offer access to dispersed local communities.

Organized in two parts, the contents of this book are firmly grounded in professional expertise and years of intense experience of working with a variety of stakeholders. The text is supported by excellent examples. Although written within and for Poland, this publication has many useful ideas and lessons for CEE/CIS countries.


The Ecology of Peace: Formative Childhoods and Peace Building

AÇEV Foundation, ISSA’s member organization in Turkey, is please to share this report, which is the result of a joint project. Yale University, UNICEF, AÇEV Foundation, the Fetzer Institute and other global partners have embarked on a joint initiative to achieve the common objective of analyzing the linkages between early childhood development (ECD) and peace building through scientific research, to disseminate results and advocate for better policies on global platforms - as a pathway to sustainable peace. 

For more information, contact Nur Sucuka at


Professional Learning Communities

In recent years, Open Academy Step by Step, ISSA’s member organization in Croatia, has worked on developing Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) within primary schools, as a school-based professional development model using ISSA’s Quality Resource Pack. Within this initiative, Open Academy Step by Step developed a training module for teachers who are leaders of learning communities. As a result of their experience, the NGO published the book Professional Learning Communities, authored by Sanja Brajkovic, Program Director at Open Academy Step by Step. The book, which promotes ISSA’s definition of Quality Pedagogy and the Quality Resource Pack, provides both theoretical background and practical experience in building PLCs in Croatian schools.

‘The values of this book are numerous. It provides an overview of research and findings that underline the importance of professional development for teachers based on teacher’s and school’s needs, which teachers create through professional collaboration. Furthermore, the book describes in detail all the steps in the development of a learning community, gives warning of possible problems and provides practical guidelines for activities. Finally, the special value of the book is that it was built on experience in Croatian schools, which confirms the high motivation of our teachers for changing themselves and the school from the "inside."’ (Prof Vlatka Domovic, Reviewer of the book)

The book is available in Croatian and NOW in English.

For more information, contact Sanja Brajković at


Manual for Diversification of Programs for Preschool Education

Two ISSA members, CIP (Center for Interactive Pedagogy/Serbia) and VBJK/Belgium, co-authored this manual as a result of the work they carried out under two large projects in Serbia:

  • IMPRES Project – Improvement of Preschool Education in Serbia, with funding from the European Commission and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development/Serbia

  • Kindergarten without Borders: Expanding Early Learning Opportunities for Young Children - supported by UNICEF and IKEA.