Best practice in the early years sector celebrated at National Awards


Early Childhood Ireland has announced the winners of its annual National Awards which recognise and applaud the excellent practice of educators in early learning and care settings.

Early Childhood Ireland supports 3,800 childcare members nationwide, who – in turn – support over 100,000 children and their families. The eight winners recognised in their 2020 National Awards, emerged from hundreds of entries which were received from all over Ireland.

Commenting today (26.11.20), Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, said: “The Early Childhood Ireland National Awards showcase the excellent practice in early learning and care settings.  This year has been a particularly challenging one for the early years sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the high quality of the awardees demonstrates the ingenuity and tenacity which is embedded across our sector.

“I would like to congratulate the awardees and thank them for their innovative approach and contribution to the continued development of the early years sector. Their work helps to inspire many in our sector by delivering new and creative practices to support the education and care of children. I would also like to thank our sponsors for supporting this year’s National Awards.”

The winners of the 2020 National Awards are:

  • Learning Story of the Year sponsored by Allianz: ‘Woody’s Maps’ by Creative Kids & Co. in Walkinstown, Dublin wins this award. This interactive story promotes a collaborative approach between the educator and parents in supporting the child’s development.
  • Emergent Curriculum in Action Learning Story of the Year sponsored by Allianz: ‘Dealing with Democracy’ by Learning for Life in Lucan, Co. Dublin are the winners in this category. This story takes the children through the process of how decisions are made in a democratic society.
  • Best Learning Story from ‘Newcomer’ sponsored by Allianz: ‘More than words’ by CRC School in Clontarf, Co. Dublin wins this award as it promotes the importance of kindness and empathy which is key to each child’s social learning.
  • Inspired Practice Award sponsored by Arachas: ‘This is the story of our Kindness Elves’ created by Happy Days Ratoath in Co. Meath are the winners in this category. This story fosters the value of sharing kindness in the community.
  • Partnership with Families Innovation Award sponsored by Child Paths: Manor Kilbride Montessori School in Brittas, Co Dublin wins this award for enriching children’s learning through parental partnership, teamwork, and community spirit.
  • LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion sponsored by the LINC programme, based in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick: Maxine Ryan from Clare Family Resource Centre in Ennis, Co Clare wins this award for her work in cultivating inclusive culture, practice and pedagogy in her setting.
  • First 5 Award for Transitions for Children led by the Government of Ireland: ‘Transition boxes’ by Tir na nOg in Athy, Co Kildare wins this award for supporting the children’s transition to primary school and encourages parents to play a role in this process.
  • Pedagogical Leader Award sponsored by Wesco: Sarah O’Leary from Cheeky Cherubs Early Years Schools in Ballincollig, Co Cork wins this award for her continuous approach to discovering new practices and research in early learning and care settings.   

Teresa Heeney added: “The National Awards clearly demonstrate the resourcefulness and commitment of those who work within the early years sector and reinforces the need to fully professionalise the sector to ensure our early years educators are properly recognised and valued. I hope the government moves positively in this direction in the very near future.”

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