Last Thursday evening (22.02.2019) was a night of great celebration for the Leadership in Inclusion in the Early Years (LINC) Programme team as they accepted the Student Engagement & Communications Award at the 2019 Education Awards ceremony held in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin.

Launched in 2017 The Education Awards recognise, encourage and celebrate excellence in the third level education sector in Ireland. The award categories are designed to highlight the key areas that impact upon student performance and provide opportunities for educational institutions, their employees and contributors to have their achievements recognised across the various important facets of their operations.

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 Fintan Breen, LINC National Programme Coordinator said:  “I am delighted to have accepted this award for the LINC Programme which recognises the positive effects of the collaboration between all three members of the consortium. It is a testament to the work of the full team – from our programme designers to our tutors and support staff who have brought a wide range of academic, instructional design, ICT, and student support expertise to the programme.

Commenting on the win, Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland said: On behalf of Early Childhood Ireland, I am delighted and very proud to congratulate LINC on winning this Education Award for Student Engagement and Communications . This represents a fantastic endorsement of the amazing work of everyone on the LINC Team.  Once again this award is a testament to the significant and very positive impact of this programme since its introduction. Huge congratulations to everyone on your well -deserved success.”

A sentiment echoed by  Professor Marie Mc Loughlin, Head of the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, Maynooth University who added: “We are delighted that LINC’s successes are once again recognised by being nominated for having developed and put into practice the most efficient and successful student engagement and communications structure.  This endorses the collective efforts of a highly energised team who have worked tirelessly to develop effective communication which in turn has successfully achieved tremendously high levels of student engagement. The team’s efforts are  deservedly acknowledged for the potential this programme brings to transformation within the early childhood sector.”

The LINC programme, which in 2017 won the Best Online Learning Experience Award and in 2018 won the Jennifer Burke Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, 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. 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 LINC programme will open for applications for 2019/20 on March 4 with Information Sessions currently taking place around the country in association with local County Childcare Committees. Further information here.


Members of the LINC Programme team accepting the Student Engagement and Communications Award at the 2019 Education Awards.