Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) and Maynooth University – The Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education (MU-Froebel Dept.) comprise the three partners of the consortium awarded the contract from the Higher Education Authority for the delivery of the Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years Programme (LINC).
All three consortium members are committed to research in the area of early years’ education and special education and have been involved in a wide range of research related to the areas of both early years’ education and special education. In addition, MIC and MU-Froebel Dept. are in a position to facilitate students in progressing on the National Qualifications’ Framework (NFQ) through entry into higher education early childhood care and education (ECCE) programmes at Level 7/8 on the NFQ Framework.
Mary Immaculate College
Mary Immaculate College, as the lead provider in the consortium, is an autonomous third-level college, academically linked to the University of Limerick, with a long tradition of offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Education and the Arts. The College was established as a college of professional education for Catholic Primary School teachers in 1898 by Bishop O’Dwyer and the Sisters of Mercy.
The College has expanded significantly since that time, and is currently undergoing one of the most exciting phases of growth and development in its history. This remarkable rate of expansion has brought with it a significant broadening of MIC’s academic provision, as well as a re-development of the campus which now offers state-of-the-art teaching, learning and research facilities, as well as excellent events and conferencing facilities.
Following the recent incorporation of St. Patrick’s College in Thurles, MIC is now a multi-campus institution, with anticipated student numbers of 5,000 by 2020, offering programmes from Level 6 on the NFQ, up to and including Level 10 (Doctoral level). MIC also offers Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses and is committed to improving access to higher education for adults with a range of tailored programmes and supports that make the journey for adult learners as easy as possible.
In keeping with its distinctive mission and strategic plan, available to view here, MIC has carefully and strategically sought to expand the range of the programmes it provides, building on its strengths, while simultaneously responding to national priorities. In this context, the provision of the Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years programme builds on the particular strengths MIC has developed in relation to early years’ education and special education. These strengths relate to the programmes delivered at undergraduate and post-graduate levels in addition to the national research profile MIC has developed both in early years’ education and in special education.
Early Childhood Ireland
Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) is the largest national representative organisation of the childcare sector in Ireland. Early Childhood Ireland represents almost 75% of all early childhood care and education services in the country, with a reach to 100,000 families on a daily basis. Early Childhood Ireland’s vision is based on the philosophy that early childhood is a critical period for the nurturing of each individual child’s curiosity, resilience, creativity, confidence and potential and on a belief that every child has a right to a childhood that is loving, secure and stimulating. With a commitment to collaborative working, ECI supports and represents the people who play a role in the development and delivery of early childhood care and education services and policies through: providing leadership, new developments, opportunities and possibilities for the Early Childhood ECCE sector; representing members’ interests and needs and advocating on behalf of members, children and their families; providing information and advice to the sector on practice, business and operational issues and delivering services, which support legislative compliance and quality in practice.
Early Childhood Ireland is also committed to promoting and providing continuing professional learning programmes and provides accredited training from Level 4 to Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (up to and including Degree level in partnership with Maynooth University and Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education) through face-to-face and online learning. Early Childhood Ireland is an approved centre for the delivery of City and Guilds programmes, specifically the Trainer of Trainers programme Certificate in Teaching Adult Learners.
Early Childhood Ireland provides national quality improvement programmes and mentors, and trains staff on-site in early years’ settings. Additionally ECI makes professional learning opportunities available to staff, managers and trainers nationally.
Early Childhood Ireland is committed to undertaking research and sharing learning with a wide audience. It places a particular focus on highlighting learning from practice and empowering early years’ educators as researchers and has developed a wide range of resources aimed at bringing together research and practice. All trainers employed by ECI have direct practical experience of working in childcare, have sector specific qualifications to Degree/Master’s Level, have a Trainer of Trainers programme Certificate in Teaching Adult Learners and are facilitated in accessing continuing professional learning and support. Specifically over the past two years, through funding from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), ECI has successfully upskilled over 600 learners at level 5 and 6 in ECCE programmes. These programmes were delivered in 34 locations around the country through a face-to-face and blended formats.
Maynooth University – The Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
The Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education was established as a department within Maynooth University in September 2013. Previously known as the Froebel College of Education and based in Blackrock, Dublin, it was one of five Colleges of Education in Ireland dedicated to primary teacher education. The College was opened in 1943 by the Congregation of Dominican Sisters who recognised a close kinship between their mission and the progressive educational ideas of the 19th century German educator, Friedrich Froebel (1782 – 1852). He advocated reverence for the child, learning through activity and play, exploration of the environment, enjoyment of beauty in all its manifestations and acceptance of the unique gifts of each individual. The bedrock of the philosophy underpinning the work of the College is a belief in ‘child centred’ education building on the maxim of the ‘child being the chief agent in his own education’. Named after this pioneering philosopher and founder of Kindergarten, the College always has and continues to remain deeply committed to emulating the values and principles he promoted and as a result has played a significant role in promoting child-centred education in Ireland since its establishment. Since gaining recognition from the Department of Education in 1960, the College has expanded its student intake by offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to include Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.); Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (BAECE) – Teaching and Learning; Professional Master’s in Education (PMEd) and Post-graduate Diploma in Special Educational Needs (PDSEN).
The move to the Maynooth University campus has proven to be a positive development as the courses on offer have increased attractiveness for students from a wide geographical spread. Students now enjoy a broad and varied range of social and educational facilities and services. Additionally staff from other departments within a large university brings added expertise to courses.