Minister Zappone announces 900 free places on the Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years (LINC) Higher Education Programme

Applications will open this week for the second intake onto the Leadership for Inclusion (LINC) higher education programme for early years practitioners which will commence this September.  LINC, which was established in 2016 , is a Level 6 Special Purpose Award designed to support inclusion of children with a disability in free pre-school provided under the Government’s Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme.

The LINC Programme is being delivered by a consortium, led by Mary Immaculate College, Limerick together with Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, Maynooth University and Early Childhood Ireland.

Minister Zappone welcomed the announcement of the second intake onto the LINC Programme, noting that ‘the Programme is part of the Government’s commitment to the provision of high quality education and training to upskill the early years workforce. It is a key initiative under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access and participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme to the fullest extent possible’.

The LINC Programme contains online and classroom based sessions in order to ensure a flexible and quality learning experience, enabling early years’ practitioners in full-time employment to attend this important continuing professional development (CPD) programme. According to Mr Fintan Breen, LINC National Programme Coordinator ‘early years practitioners have engaged enthusiastically with this Programme and feedback suggests that LINC is having a positive and significant impact on practice within early years’ settings and on the inclusion of children with a disability’.

Last September, the first intake of 900 early years practitioners was funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to undertake the LINC Programme. From September 2017, graduates from this first intake will perform a new leadership role of Inclusion Coordinator within their pre-school setting. This will attract an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting.

The application deadline for the LINC Programme is 27th April 2017 and further information on how to apply can be found on

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