847 Students from 27 counties graduate from innovative LINC Programme

LINC Programme

Pictured recently at Mary Immaculate College were Carol Lyons, Clever Cats, Pre-School, Ballysimon Road, Limerick, Rachel Cosgrave, Wilmott’s Childcare, Annacotty, Limerick, Sandra Gleeson, Castletroy View Montessori, Limerick, Rosemarie Wilmott, Wilmott’s Childcare, Annacotty, Limerick, Pamela Walsh, Standing Small Standing Tall, Ballysimon Road, Limerick and Mary Cuddihy, Radharc Na Coille Montessori, Kildimo, Limerick at the LINC Programme graduation ceremony. Picture: Don Moloney / Press 22

847 Students from 27 counties graduate from innovative LINC Programme

847 Students from 27 counties Graduate from innovative Special Purpose Award. “Building an inclusive culture, where every child matters, is the cornerstone of the Access and Inclusion Model and the LINC programme is a vital part of this effort.” stated Minister of State with Responsibilities for Disability Issues, Finia McGrath, TD who was speaking at Mary Immaculate College (MIC).

The Minister was Guest of Honour at a conferring ceremony which saw the first ever cohort to graduate from the Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years LINC programme which saw 847 students from 27 counties being presented with a Level 6 Special Purpose Award.

LINC, established in 2016, is a higher education blended-learning programme designed to enhance inclusion of children with additional needs in early years’ settings through the development of the role of Inclusion Coordinator. The programme, offered by a consortium led by Mary Immaculate College and including Early Childhood Ireland and Maynooth University – Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, 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.

Speaking at the packed event Minister of State, Finian McGrath, TD said: “While it is important that children with disabilities are not made to feel unnecessarily ‘different’, it is also important that children who don’t have disabilities learn from those who do. The Access and Inclusion Model enables children with a disability to benefit from high quality early years education, alongside their peers.

“The LINC programme is having a positive and significant impact on practice within early years’ settings and on the inclusion of children with a disability. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge your hard work over the past year – both working and studying – and to commend you for it.”

Amongst those graduating was Emma Kerr from Creggs. Co. Roscommon who received the Gold Medal for achieving first place on the programme and Margaret O’Sullivan from Killarney, Co Kerry who received the Best LINC Portfolio Award.

Earlier this year the LINC programme was awarded the 2017 Education Award for Best Online Learning Experience.  These awards recognise, encourage and celebrate excellence in the third level education sector in Ireland and as such was as acknowledgment of the transformative power of blended learning to impact on children, families and early years’ education through fostering an inclusive culture and developing inclusive practices in early years’ services across Ireland.

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. Settings with an ECCE contract can nominate an employee for LINC and the nominee must have a full Level 5 Award or higher in a relevant discipline. While over 80% of the programme is delivered online, the classroom based sessions are offered in nine 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; and Sligo.

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