Two course have been shortlisted under the Social Inclusion Category

The LINC (Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years) Adult Education Programme has been shortlisted for an AONTAS STAR Award in the ‘Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Social Inclusion’ category.

The STAR Awards are an awards initiative organised by the national adult learning organisation, AONTAS, to recognise and celebrate the work undertaken by adult learning initiatives throughout Ireland. Aontas is the National Adult Learning Organisation and advocates and lobbies for the development of a quality service for adult learners; promoting the value and benefits of adult learning and building organisational capacity.

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.

Upon hearing about the nomination, Fintan Breen, National Programme Coordinator for the LINC Programme said “I’m delighted that LINC has been recognised as a leader in social inclusion by being shortlisted for the STAR awards. We are really proud of the work put in by the full team and this nomination is a testimony to their commitment to inclusion. It also recognises the journey that our learners are on and the work they are doing to ensure that all children are included in early years settings across the country. We will shortly be opening applications for next year and look forward to welcoming a new cohort of Leaders in INClusion.”

No stranger to awards the LINC programme was awarded Best Online Learning Experience in the 2017 Education Awards. Running from September to June, the LINC 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. Last October saw the first cohort to graduate from the programme when 847 students from 27 counties were presented with a Level 6 Special Purpose Award with Minister of State, Finian McGrath, TD in attendance. Video footage from the event available to view here. The application process for 2017/18 will open on March 12. MIC will hold an Information Session for those interested in the programme on Wednesday 21 March at 6.30pm. For further information, contact the LINC Team on Tel: 061-204545 or Email: linc@mic.ul.ie. Further information on the programme here.

Commenting on the shortlist, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “The STAR awards are an opportunity to celebrate the positive contribution that adult education initiatives make to individual adult learners, local communities and wider society. The quality of nominations was exceptional, resulting in a highly competitive process, and the impact these three educational programmes has on the social, cultural and economic development of its local area was evident to see and we’re delighted to have such wonderful initiatives shortlisted for a STAR award.”

Judging of the STAR Awards will comprise two stages: In the first stage, nominated projects are shortlisted by an independent judging panel, whose membership is drawn from the education, business and technology sectors. The second stage gives staff and learners from the shortlisted projects the opportunity to meet with the judging panel before they make their final decision. The STAR Awards are now in their 12th year, and form part of the programme of events of AONTAS’ annual Adult Learners’ Festival. The theme of this year’s festival is #LoveLifelongLearning. Winners will be announced at a special ceremony in Dublin on 5 March 2018.