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Annual Conference & AGM 2019

March 3, 2019



Providing Leadership to the First 5 is the theme for the Early Childhood Ireland National Conference & AGM. First 5 is the national early years strategy for Ireland. Launched in November 2018, it encompasses a ten-year, whole-of-government strategy to provide babies, children, and their families with the best possible start in life. First 5 includes a strong focus on the early years sector and its professionals. The leadership of our sector is invaluable in ensuring that young children, together with their families, are supported to develop and thrive during their earliest years.

For this reason, we have chosen the theme of leadership for our Annual Conference Weekend 2019. On Saturday 13 April at Croke Park Conference Centre, we will come together as a sector to share our collective knowledge, expertise, and experience in a vibrant dialogue about First 5 and its implications for the early years in Ireland. You will have the opportunity to hear from experts on topics related to the First 5 goals and participate in a diverse range of masterclasses focusing on rights, quality improvement, and health and wellbeing in the context of First 5. Together, we will discuss how we can bring leadership to this strategy and how it can support us in delivering the very best care and learning for our youngest citizens.

Ahead of the expected publication of the First 5 implementation plan in May, the Conference is a unique opportunity to engage in deep reflective thinking with your fellow early years professionals. First 5 is a blueprint for the next ten years of our sector – this is your chance to lead for the future.




Timetable of Day


08.00 – 09.30 Registration
08.15 – 08.30 Breakfast for AGM attendees
08.30 – 09.20 AGM

Welcome and Opening

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD


Morning Keynote Speaker: 

Cathy Nutbrown, BEd, MED, PhD, (Sheffield) – Hogan Suite


Coffee Break & Marketplace EXPO


Launch of our new Early Years Employers Services (EYES) in the EXPO area

12.15 – 13.15

Masterclasses & Information Sessions

13.15 – 14.15

Lunch and Marketplace EXPO

14.15 – 15.15

Masterclasses & Information Sessions


Afternoon Keynote Speaker: 

Independent Senator Lynn Ruane

Hogan Suite


Inspiring Practice Presentation

Hogan Suite


Close of Conference 




Keynote Speakers


Morning Keynote: Professor Cathy Nutbrown

Professor Cathy Nutbrown of the School of Education at the University of Sheffield began her career as a teacher of young children. She has since worked in a range of settings and roles with children, parents, teachers, and other early childhood educators. Professor Nutbrown’s present research focuses on work with parents to support their young children’s early literacy development in schools, communities, nurseries and prisons.

In June 2012 she reported on her year-long independent review for government on early years and childcare qualifications (The Nutbrown Review). She believes that young children need well-educated educators who have the knowledge, skills and understanding to work with young children in a culture of respect. Professor Nutbrown sees the concept of quality early education in the context of what it means to develop curriculum and pedagogy. This should offer challenges to young minds, appeal to their hearts, and nurture their souls.

Professor Nutbrown is Editor-in-Chief of the Sage Journal of Early Childhood Research and author of over fifty publications on aspects of early childhood education. Her books include Thread of Thinking (2011), Inclusion in the Early Years (2013), and Early Childhood Education: History, Philosophy and Experience (2014). Her latest book Early Childhood Education Research: International Perspectives was published in July 2018 and reviews international research on a range of issues.

Professor Nutbrown is an inspiring teacher and researcher whose work has had a profound impact on early childhood education and care. We greatly look forward to welcoming the professor to share her insights on leading the way on children’s rights and curriculum development.


Afternoon Keynote: Senator Lynn Ruane

Early Childhood Ireland is excited to invite Senator Lynn Ruane to present her personal insights on leadership and education. Senator Ruane is an Independent member of Seanad Éireann, representing Trinity College graduates in the Oireachtas since 2016 and serving as the deputy leader of the Seanad Civil Engagement group during that time. She was elected to the Senate while President of Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union, where she gained entry as a mature student through the Trinity Access Programme.

Senator Ruane been has long been an activist and campaigner on issues of justice and equality. She grew up on a local authority estate in Killinarden, Tallaght and left school early as a single mother at the age of fifteen. She later
returned to education through a programme for young mothers in An Cosán, a community education project founded by Katherine Zappone and Ann- Louise Gilligan in Jobstown.

Her legislative priorities in office have included equality of access in education, gender equality & reproductive rights, tackling socio-economic inequality and advocating for progressive reforms of drug, migration and social welfare policies. Prior to her entry to politics, she developed addiction programmes for 15 years as a community worker in west Dublin. She is the author of the award-winning memoir, ‘People Like Me’.





In masterclasses, participants will join a unique community to explore current and emerging practice devoted to improving young children’s experiences across a spectrum of services. 

Please click here for more information on the range of masterclasses available on the day




The weekend includes the biggest Expo in the sector with over 30 exhibitors. Here you will have the opportunity to meet a wide range of  suppliers to the sector, many of whom will have special offers on the day.

Those attending include Wesco Ireland, Creative Activity, Ease, Little Dinners, Mermaids & Dragons, Dublin Zoo, Barnardos, Safefood, Kidd Insurance, Allianz, DAS, Better Start, Big Red Book, Jaggo, Lafayette, LINC, Stretch-n-Grow, Komeer and Recreate.

The ECI Shop will also be present  with a wide selection of resources, books and toys for you to browse and purchase.

Natural materials and disco balls - ECI Annual Conference & AGM Countdown: Visit the EXPO!




Sponsors of Early Childhood Ireland's Annual Conference & AGM 2019


This invaluable opportunity to network with peers, meet with leading sector suppliers, and learn more about the latest supports for early childhood service delivery is a date you don’t want to miss.


Registrations are now closed for our National Conference & AGM 2019



>>>For more information on the Annual Conference Weekend, please click here


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