Early Childhood Ireland National Annual Awards 2021

Judging Process

What does the selection process look like?

There are three stages in the selection process:

Stage 1:  Early Childhood Ireland checks your eligibility to apply

  • Submission of a fully completed application form.
  • Relevant documentation provided and supporting requirements are met.
  • We check your eligibility to apply using the criteria under the ‘Who can apply’ heading.
  • The following award categories must hold a current Early Childhood Ireland provider membership throughout this process:

Category 1 – Learning Story of the Year Award

Category 2  – Inspired Practice Award

Category 3  – Partnership with Families Innovation Award

Category 6  – Pedagogical Leader Award

  • The service’s current Tusla registration number is included on the application form;
  • Ticking a box in the signed declaration form returned to ECI to confirm that the service, and other early years services if relevant, is compliant with national regulations and are not subject to Tusla enforcement action.
  • Ticking a box to agree to media terms and conditions.
  • All award categories including Leadership for Inclusion Award sponsored by LINC, and Transitions for Children Award must
    • Provide early learning and care to children from birth to school-age (sessional, part-time, full-time) and/or school age childcare;
    • Be Tusla-registered and deemed by Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate to have sufficiently met the national regulatory requirements and are not subject to Tusla enforcement action;
    • Evidence good practice through DES Inspection Report.
  • Only services that have appointed a LINC Graduate as an Inclusion Coordinator (INCO) are eligible to be nominated or to self-nominate for the Leadership for Inclusion Award sponsored by LINC.
  • Only services that have not previously entered any Early Childhood Ireland Award categories are eligible to apply for the  Learning Story of the Year from a ‘Newcomer’.
  • Only applications that meet these initial Stage 1 entry criteria can proceed to the Stage 2 and Stage 3 short-listing and judging processes.

Applicants that cannot proceed to stage 2 will be so informed by Early Childhood Ireland.

Stage 2:  An internal Early Childhood Ireland Panel short-lists application

  • The applications that meet stage 1 criteria will be evaluated by an internal ECI Panel using the judging and selection criteria applicable to each of the awards which are available on ECI website.
  • Three finalists are shortlisted by an ECI internal Panel for each award.
  • Three short-listed applications are passed to the external judging panel.

Applicants that have not been shortlisted for stage 3 will be so informed by Early Childhood Ireland.

Stage 3:  The External Judging Panel and winners selected

  • The External Judging Panel use the same criteria as the internal panel to choose a final winner for each of the 8 awards.
  • The external panel selects the 8 winners. The winners are announced at the Early Childhood Ireland National Annual Awards Celebrations.

NOTE: To be eligible for short-listing to the finals, and to be declared an award winner, the service must continue to meet the Stage 1 criteria during the stage 2 and Stage 3 selection processes, up to and including the day of the announcement of the winners at the Annual Award celebrations.

 Key dates for your diary 2021

Opening date

19 April 2021

Closing date

31 May 2021

Award Winners announced

8 October 2021

Role of Judges

How are the awards judged?

The internal and external judges review all applications against the award criteria and mark the application accordingly. There is a different set of criteria for each award.

The awards’ scoring system is as follows:

  • A total of 100 marks is available for each award.
  • The criteria for judging each award is divided into 4 themes.
  • 25 marks is the maximum that can be awarded in each theme.
  • The marks for each of the 4 themes will be added to get a total.
  • A minimum of 15 marks must be scored by applicants in each of the 4 themes (60 marks in total), in order to remain a contender.
  • In the final stage of judging, the highest score out of a possible total of 100 wins the award.

Judges Responsibilities:

  • All award applications and marking sheets are emailed to judges and viewed in advance of judging day.
  • Guest judges will join the core panel for award categories at an agreed time.
  • All judging will take place off site and communications will be in person or via email/phone/online platform.
  • Judges will apply the criteria for judging and the guiding framework for each award category and have a clear understanding of what each application should contain.
  • It is of critical importance to Early Childhood Ireland that the judging process is confidential, fair, impartial, and transparent.
  • All judges will sign a confidentiality agreement.
  • The external judges must jointly agree the award winners and individually sign the completed marking sheets for each award and state the reasons for each winning award application based on each award criteria.
  • For transparency, a list of judges names, their photo and their bios will be placed on Early Childhood Ireland’s National Annual Awards web page.

Judging individually and offsite.

  • Each judge is emailed the shortlisted application forms, marking sheets, criteria, and judging forms for the category they are judging.
  • A facilitated meeting will take place for the judges to discuss their top selections from the specific category they are judging.
  • The facilitator will keep notes and record the final unanimous decision on a winning form with judge’s reasons.
  • It is of critical importance to Early Childhood Ireland that the judging process is confidential, fair, impartial, and transparent.
  • All judges will sign a confidentiality agreement.
  • Judges will be asked to complete an evaluation on the judging and administrative processes to help ECI improve or maintain the quality of our Awards processes and criteria.

Early Childhood National Annual Awards

Early Childhood Ireland Application Form

List of Judges 2021