Connect with us
Early Years Leadership Early Years Leadership


Government Announces 900 Free Places on Early Years Leadership in Inclusion Programme

Government Announces 900 Free Places on Early Years Leadership in Inclusion Programme. Little Girl with painted hands. Photo: Den Kuvaiev

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, today announced 900 free places on the Early Years Leadership in Inclusion in the (LINC) Programme.

LINC, established in 2016, is a Level 6 Special Purpose Award (Higher Education) designed to enhance inclusion of children with additional needs in early years’ settings through the development of the role of Inclusion Coordinator.

The Early Years Leadership programme, offered by a consortium led by Mary Immaculate College in Limerick and including Early Childhood Ireland and Maynooth University, is part of a government commitment to the provision of high quality education and training in the field of early childhood care and education and was introduced as part of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) in 2016.

Announcing the 900 free places Minister Zappone said “I am delighted that applications for the second intake onto the Leadership for Inclusion (LINC) Programme for early years practitioners opens today. This Programme, which is part of the suite of supports provided under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) provides education and training in best practice for the inclusion of children with a disability in pre-school.

Being inclusive involves creating a pre-school setting where each child is welcomed and included on equal terms, feels a sense of belonging and can progress to his or her full potential.  The promotion of effective leadership is vital to nurturing such inclusivity.”

Early Years Leadership Minister Katherine Zappone visits Limerick Youth Service

Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs pictured with members of Limerick Youth Service at Lava Javas Youth Cafe. Photo: Cian Reinhardt/ilovelimerick

Running from September to June, the programme contains online and classroom based sessions in order to ensure a flexible and quality learning experience, enabling early years’ educators in full-time employment to attend this important continuing professional development (CDP) programme. While over 80% of the programme is delivered online, the classroom based sessions are offered in 9 regional centres in order to ensure access to practitioners across the country. The centres for 2017/18 are Cork; Dublin North; Dublin South/West; Galway; Kildare; Kilkenny; Limerick; Meath; & Sligo.

Professor Eugene Wall, Acting President of Mary Immaculate College, said “The success of the Early Years Leadership Programme, which commenced in September 2016 has been extraordinary. Early years’ educators have engaged enthusiastically with the programme and feedback suggests that LINC is having a positive and significant impact on practice within early years’ settings and on the inclusion of children with additional needs. Mary Immaculate College is committed to providing a high-quality educational experience for all our students and the LINC Programme is one of a range of our programmes at Levels 6, 7 and 8 which will meet the needs of the early year’s sector. We are delighted to open the application process today and we look forward to working with 900 more students in the year ahead.”

Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland stated “Early Childhood Ireland is pleased to be a member of the Consortium delivering the LINC programme as we know from members how committed they are to inclusion and diversity and therefore how important this programme is.  We, therefore, encourage our members to apply now for Year 2 of the Programme. As part of the ongoing professionalization of the sector, there is an increasing national and international demand for those employed in the early years to attain greater levels of education and training and a particular need for early years’ practitioners to develop the specialist understanding, skills and competencies required when working with children who have additional needs. At Early Childhood Ireland, we have already seen how this course of study has developed participants’ leadership skills so that that they can supervise and advise colleagues to plan for, implement and review inclusive practices in childcare settings. The skills taught through this programme will help ensure that inclusivity is central to the childcare setting. It will mean that those children who may have additional needs will be able to fully participate and enjoy the benefits which high-quality childcare can bring.”

Prof. McLoughlin, Head of the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University said “Maynooth University is delighted to be involved in this innovative programme, aimed at supporting children with additional needs in the early years and for providing ongoing continuing professional learning pathways for early years’ educators in Ireland. We strongly believe in ensuring a variety of flexible and quality CPD pathway options for early years’ practitioners in order to provide relevant learning experiences and we are delighted that the LINC Programme, which has over 80% of the content delivered online, is responsive to the needs of practitioners who are working full-time within the sector.”

The LINC programme is free of charge to participants and employers, and is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Department of Education and Skills and the Dormant Accounts Fund. Additionally, all students will receive a contribution of €200 towards costs. After completion of the programme, early years’ settings employing an Inclusion Coordinator who has graduated from LINC will receive an additional €2 per week capitation per child in the ECCE scheme. Early years settings that hold a contract with Pobal to deliver the ECCE Programme, are eligible to nominate a candidate, whom must hold a Level 5 Major Award in a relevant area.  Application deadline is 27 April 2017.  

Further information on how to apply for the Early Years Leadership programme click here

For more information education in Limerick click here

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.