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Annual Conference 2019 - Masterclasses

Annual Conference 2019 – Masterclasses

March 4, 2019


Join us for an inspiring selection of Masterclasses and Information Seminars.

Please see below the range of Masterclasses and Seminars that will be available to choose from on the day. The topics chosen for these Masterclasses and Seminars are closely aligned to the four goals of the First 5 Strategy. Each one is colour-coded to reflect the goal to which it is linked. As you can see, there is something of interest for everyone and you will have the opportunity to participate in two Masterclasses/ Seminars on the day.

 For more information on each masterclass, please see below:


GDPR – One Year On

Jenny Dolan, Assistant Commissioner – Children’s Policy, Data Protection Commission

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) is the national independent authority responsible for upholding the fundamental right of individuals in the EU to have their personal data protected. The DPC is the Irish supervisory authority responsible for monitoring the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and also has functions and powers related to other important regulatory frameworks. The core functions of the DPC include handling complaints lodged by individuals in relation to potential infringements of data protection law, conducting inquiries and investigations regarding infringements of data protection legislation and taking enforcement action where necessary, promoting public awareness and understanding of the risks, rules, safeguards and rights in relation to processing personal data, and cooperating with data protection authorities in other EU Member States. This seminar, delivered by Assistant Commissioner for Children’s Policy, Jenny Dolan, looks at the application of data protection law in the context of early years childcare, focusing on core aspects such as legal bases for processing personal data, data retention policies, and subject access requests made by parents.




The principle of participation and the role of children’s rights education: Potentials and possibilities

Dr. Sheila Long – Institute of Technology, Carol

Children’s rights education (CRE) for educators interested in advancing children’s rights in the spaces they occupy, is an exciting field. It is an approach to education that takes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as its starting point for guiding educators’ decision-making, pedagogies and practices. Celebrating its 30-year anniversary this year, it can and should be understood by Governments, policy-makers, activists, educators and children alike. Although the shape and focus of children’s rights education changes depending on the educator, context and audience (child or adult), it is anchored, unapologetically and accurately in the international children’s human rights framework. Principled and process-oriented, it can resonate deeply with the wisdom, philosophies and values of ECEC educators, but can also (and should also) create dilemmas, resistances and disruptions in taken for granted knowledges, policies and practices. The potential however for CRE to open up new lines of enquiry and creative freedom in ECEC practice and achieve real impact in the lives of young children in ECEC settings is immense, and, perhaps as yet, largely untapped. Drawing on the policy commitments to child participation in First Five, as well as Aistear and Siolta and a body of Irish participatory research studies with young children, and using CRE processes and pedagogies, this masterclass will explore how the principle of participation lays one of the foundation stones for an understanding of a child rights-based approach in ECEC. It aims to appeal primarily to curious ECEC educators, tutors and students who wish to become more conscious of their role and possibilities under the UNCRC not only as policy users and readers but as duty bearers, change-agents and trouble-makers to the status quo that ignores young children in decision-making processes.




First 5 Masterclass

Anne-Marie Brooks and Hazel O’Byrne – DCYA

First 5 is a ten-year, whole-of-Government, whole-of-society strategy for babies, young children and their families. This strategy – the first of its kind in Ireland – was launched in November 2018. It includes the following goals: 

Goal A: Strong and supportive families and communities
Goal B: Optimum physical and mental health
Goal C: Positive play-based early learning
Goal D: An effective early childhood system

To achieve these Goals, First 5 commits to major initiatives over the next decade, including initiatives on family leave, children’s health services, parenting supports, child-friendly communities and early learning and care. A total of 166 actions to be progressed over the first three years of the strategy have been identified.

Through this masterclass, participants will be provided with a broad overview of First 5, with a particular emphasis on initial actions that relate to early learning and care. An outline plans for implementation of First 5 will also be provided.



Universal Design for Early Years

Thomas Grey, Research Fellow (Architect), TrinityHaus

This masterclass is being given in the context of the recent First 5 Strategy and the upcoming Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care Settings that are due to be launched this summer. These guidelines promote the design of supportive and stimulating physical environments for young children that are accessible, usable and easily understood by the widest range of people. The guidelines also focus on creating supportive and welcoming settings for practitioners, families and parents to ensure that these settings operate to their maximum potential.

The masterclass will focus on key aspects of the forthcoming guidelines and illustrate how the guidelines are applicable across a diversity of settings and projects including:

  • New-build, retrofit, or refurbishment projects.
  • Small, medium and large settings in rural, suburban or urban locations.
  • Issues at various spatial scales from large-scale issues such as site location, down to small-scale issues such as fit-out or technology.

The masterclass will discuss how the guidelines will benefit a variety of users including setting owners and operators, practitioners, and design professionals. It will also highlight how a collaborative approach between all stakeholders is required to provide supportive, therapeutic and Universally Designed settings for a wide spectrum of needs and preferences.



What’s HR got to do with it?
Gillian Moore, HR Manager, Early Childhood Ireland

To effectively lead a team, then that team must trust and be inspired by you. So, what does HR have to do with that? Quite simply, everything!

With the current staff recruitment and retention issues coupled with the ever-increasing amount of employment legislation it is now more important than ever to focus on your HR practices and how they impact your service. Good HR in a service can set the standards for what makes a good leader whom others wish to follow.

This masterclass will focus on the impact managers have on their staff and give crucial insights into how you can use best practice to nurture a positive culture in your service that helps it to function more effectively and enables your staff to be the best that they can be.




Innovative Practice in School Age Childcare
Karen Deasy, ELC Practitioner, Wise Owls Afterschool

Engaging children in meaningful activity, providing much needed down time, and facilitating relationship building are daily experiences in Wise Owls. Karen and her afterschool team Owls truly respect the rights of young children to have a voice in developing their programme of activities and events. Over the last few years they have been the recipients of a range of Innovation and Inspired Practice Awards for the inclusive manner in which their children’s interests, knowledge, and sense of community are facilitated and built upon. In this masterclass Karen will highlight some day to day issues of running an afterschool programme and share stories of their award winning practice.




Intergenerational Learning

Anne Fitzpatrick and Carmel Gallagher – DIT, Eilish Balfe – Happy Days Montessori, Rachel Meehan Duff – Mellow Spring Childcare Service, and Karen O’Byrne – It’s a Small World Montessori

Eilish Balfe (Happy Days Montessori, Ratoath, Co. Meath), Rachael Meehan Duff (Mellow Spring Childcare Service, Finglas, Dublin) and Karen O’Byrne, (It’s a Small World Montessori, Raheny, Dublin) have been implementing intergenerational (IGL) practice in their early years services for a number of years. They have developed relationships with their local day care services for older people, nursing homes and other local groups. As a result, the children in their services and the older people have enjoyed rich and varied opportunities to develop friendships, learn with and from each other and have fun.  Intergenerational learning experiences harness the resources of the community to support the wellbeing of young children, to increase their visibility in their own communities and to create more diverse learning environments for all. Eilish, Rachael and Karen have completed a training course offered by the TOY project ( and in the masterclass will share their knowledge and experience as well as offering insights into getting started on IGL practice.




Infant Mental Health and using the Marte Meo Approach

Eithne Beirne, Tusla Child and Family Agency

Eithne Beirne is an accredited Marte Meo Therapist and Supervisor. She works as a Social Care Leader for TUSLA, Child & Family Agency in County Roscommon. As a member of a Social Work Team, Eithne delivers strengths-based child developmental support and guidance for parents, carers and children. Her practice is centred in the areas of Child Welfare, children in care, and child protection. Eithne has extensive experience in working with children in their early years. In conjunction with the Marte Meo Training Centre, Dublin, Eithne is engaged in the delivery of a variety of levels of training for practitioners and therapists in the Marte Meo method.

Replaying the Fleeting Moment: Marte Meo Video Interaction
The masterclass will provide participants with an overview of the Marte Meo video-based interaction method. The method is reflective in character; it involves the use of video to gather and then return concrete and practical information to parents, carers, teachers and professionals in support of the emotional, social and communication development of children and adolescents. One of the primary applications of this method is as a tool for early intervention; facilitating prevention and treatment in a social care context.

When we think of observing and responding to children’s initiatives, it can be easier to visualise the initiatives of older children, or children who have good verbal skills. But all babies, even very small babies, and children facing developmental challenges, move and look from the moment they arrive into the world. There is an innate drive to signal their needs. Parents, carers and practitioners can develop and strengthen their skillset in identifying and then nurturing these initiatives. The recognition of – and the response to – these signals are the essential resources that Marte Meo seeks to develop and strengthen.

The masterclass will share the experience of a professional practitioner using the method and will include examples of video material. The videos, shot in homes, in daycare and other situations, will be used to illustrate how the programme supports the parent/carer in nurturing and/or bridging gaps in a child’s development through daily communication moments.



Play and Active Spaces – Indoors And Out 
Carol Duffy, Early Childhood Specialist and Orlagh Doyle, Owner/Manager, Carraig Briste

The speed and nature of young children’s developing bodies and minds require us to be alert and responsive to their ever-changing environmental needs inside and out. Managing this in a way that also ensures the spaces they inhabit provide them with a consistent sense of security to explore life to their hearts content is no mean feat. This masterclass presents a range of environments that encourage play and activity that supports physical and mental health. Carol will present spaces that have inspired her, while Orlagh will share with us the journey she has been on in Carraig Briste that has transformed her understanding and view of quality environments for children. 



National Childcare Scheme

Laura McGarrigle – DCYA

The National Childcare Scheme is a new scheme of financial support to help parents meet the cost of quality Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare. By tangibly reducing the cost of childcare for tens of thousands of families, the Scheme aims to:

  • Improve outcomes for children
  • Reduce poverty
  • Support employment and lifelong learning
  • Help parents to transition from welfare to employment.

The Scheme is due to open to applications in October, with payments flowing from November.

Through this masterclass, participants will be provided with an overview of the National Childcare Scheme, with a particular emphasis on those elements of the Scheme which are most relevant for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare providers.



Creating Inclusive Spaces

Fiona Ferris, AsIAm and Deirdre Rogers, ReCreate

By being aware of what a young child sees, hears, touches and smells, we can create an inclusive environment that nurtures their desire to explore, create and learn. Fiona Ferris, Deputy CEO, AsIAm and Deirdre Rogers, Creative Director, ReCreate, will share with you theoretical and practical skills to ensure all young children can engage in meaningful exchanges and experiences within your preschool setting. Understanding that the senses are the child’s ‘tools’ for learning, they will discuss how we can provide them with the materials, environment and time to navigate their world while tailoring learning experiences to meet children’s needs. 




Registrations are now closed for our National Conference & AGM 2019



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