LINC National Programme Coordinator Fintan Breen and Professor Emer Ring Mary Immaculate College, present the LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion to the staff of Playmates Pre-school in Meath at the Early Childhood Ireland Awards held in The Alex Hotel in Dublin.


Last Friday evening (12.04.2019) was a night of great celebration for the staff of Playmates Pre-school from Navan in Co. Meath, as staff accepted the first ever LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion at the Early Childhood Ireland Awards ceremony held in The Alex Hotel in Dublin.

The Early Childhood Ireland National Awards celebrate the commitment and quality of the work of early years’ teachers within the early childhood sector in Ireland. The LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion seeks to recognise a service that embodies the aims of the LINC programme—focusing on the pillars of Inclusive Culture, Inclusive Practice and Inclusive Pedagogy.

The LINC Programme is a one-year, Level 6 Special Purpose award delivered by a consortium led by Mary Immaculate College (MIC), which includes Early Childhood Ireland and Maynooth University-Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education. The course is designed to facilitate practising early years’ educators to promote the inclusion of children with additional needs.

Accepting the award, Karen Lynch, INClusion COordinator in Playmates Pre-school said: “We strive to provide an environment that is inclusive to every child and family in our service. From the interactions with families to our attitude and professionalism, we aim to ensure that everyone is welcomed, included and supported in our service. Inclusion is not treating every child the same, it is providing every child and family with an opportunity to be included. It is also acknowledging difference, valuing it, discussing it and bringing it into our daily experiences. We acknowledge parents as the child’s first educators. Since the LINC training we have introduced a distributed leadership model into the service. This model provides an opportunity for all staff to voice their ideas. It is very much a Bronfenbrenner’s approach that we aim to model in our service, with the child being at the heart of every interaction, relationship, learning experience and outcome.”

Commenting on behalf of the LINC consortium Fintan Breen, National Programme Coordinator for the LINC Programme said: “The LINC award for Inclusion in the Early Years was designed to recognise the fantastic work to ensure that all children are included within the early years’ sector. We wanted to highlight some of the really committed early years’ teachers who are really making a difference. We were delighted with the high quality and the number of nominations for the award and it was extremely difficult to choose a winner. On behalf of the three LINC Consortium members, my sincere congratulations to Playmates Preschool in Navan, and, in particular, to the LINC Graduate, Karen Lynch, who is the Inclusion Coordinator (INCO) in the service.”

Also shortlisted for the award on the night were: Little Orchard Community Childcare from Carlow and It’s a Small World Montessori School from Dublin. The LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion will open for applications again in December 2019. Further information in relation to the Early Childhood Ireland Awards and eligibility can be found on the Early Childhood Ireland website www.earlychildhoodireland.ie.