Early Years Educators from Bunratty Community Childcare, Darndale Belcamp Integrated Childcare Service (Jigsaw), Doras Buí, Edenmore Early Education Centre, Kilbarrack Foxfield Preschool, Learn & Play, Moatview Early Education Centre gathered in Coolock Library on Monday 12th June to celebrate graduating from Preparing for Life's Building Big Futures programme.
Building Big Futures is a professional development programme created to support community Early Years (EY) settings across the Northside Partnership catchment area. The programme, developed in consultation with all Early Years Settings in our area, builds upon a setting's capacity to provide High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) during the most critical and formative time in a child's life.
The programme is grounded in the principles of Aistear (The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework) and Síolta (The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education). It is also underpinned and informed by research and theories in childhood development, infant mental health and trauma informed practice.
The programme consists of two core components:
The graduation opened with a welcome address from Niall Sexton, Programme Manager with Preparing for Life. Jelena Simic, Early Years Coordinator, gave an overview of the programme and how it was developed. Katie Cluskey, Senior Speech & Language Therapist shared some of the feedback on the programme from Early Years Educators. Claire Maguire, Early Years Mentor/ Programme Officer, gave an overview of the components and introduced invited a member of each service involved to share some of their feedback on the programme.
"The benefits to the Creating and Using the Learning Environments component was really evident across the centre," according to Áine Martin, Darndale Belcamp Integrated Childcare Service (Jigsaw). "The staff are all very experienced educators and knew the content being covered, but it gave the opportunity for revisiting, refocusing and reflecting on current practices. It also gave the centre the opportunity to rejuvenate the rooms with a new perspecive based on the needs of the children in the room. It was a really positive experience to witness the discussions between the teams and across the rooms."
"A wise person...asked me would you ever visit a doctor who didn't upskill and retrain in the last 20 years," said Lynette Monk, manager of Kilbarrack Foxfield Community Preschool & Afterschool. "Why then would you entrust a child to someone who hasn't taken up a book, looked at new theories or made changes to the ir practice in the same period of time? There is always something for each of us to learn...This programme has helped us return to basic elements and update and upgrade our knowledge and practice in a very practical way."
"The benefits have been huge to our curiculum, especially our environment and to the staff who have been injected with enthusiasm, open mindedness and bursts of new ideas," shared Susin Russell of Moatview EEC. "More importantly, the positive impact on the children is very noticeable, the children have been included in decision making, choice of materials and room design...It has facilitated creative thinking, critical thinking, social and emotional development," she continued.
The group was joined on the night by Professor Nóirín Hayes, who has retired from the PFL Board Committee. Professor Hayes was impressed at the approach used in Building Big Futures. She said that she has just finished writing a book on Early Years Education and she wished she had the quotes before she published as they exemplify the approach she wants to see all educators using.
Building Big Futures is funded by Tusla, and the group was also joined by Bernie Lafferty, National Manager, Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme. Prevention, Partnership, and Family Support. Paul Rogers, CEO Northside Partnership, presented certifcates to the graduates and spoke of the importance of their role in shaping the individuals with whom they work.
The Early Years Educators got to review work that the different centres were happy to showcase, encouraging idea sharing, inspiration and collaboration.