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Celebrating Scéalta 200


Monday 05 October 2020

Painting a picture of a dynamic, innovative, responsive and committed sector

I was delighted and indeed honoured to receive an invitation from Early Childhood Ireland to write a guest Scéalta edition to mark the 200th edition of the blog and this significant milestone for early childhood in Ireland.  For me, the invitation coincided with two significant events,  welcoming our largest cohort of an early childhood undergraduate students to Mary Immaculate College for orientation and the report by UNICEF –  COVID-19: A Reason to Double Down on Investments in Pre-Primary Education.


As I welcomed our undergraduate students, I also welcomed the UNICEF report, in confirming yet again, the present and long-term benefits of high-quality early childhood environments, where all children experience equitable and enriched learning and development opportunities. The contribution of Scéalta blogs from June 2016 to disseminating this powerful message has been simply inspirational.


Since June 2016, Scéalta blogs have been submitted from a range of disciplines from authors including educators, academics and key stakeholders in the early childhood sector. The blogs provide a platform to explore and understand the complexity of early childhood education across a variety of dimensions related to advocacy, policy, pedagogy, curricula, and practice. In essence, the topics addressed in Scéalta blogs mirror the significant developments in Early Childhood and Care in Ireland over the past four years and the exceptional commitment of the sector to create authentically inclusive early childhood environments, where all children and families are enabled to flourish. Specifically, the central importance of peer support and creating, what is in essence a community of practice through blogs, is evident in the posts from educators over the years. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the posts from educators tend to be widely read, and much appreciated, as evidenced by in a post on July 21, 2016, where Thomas Quigley remarked ‘great article Carol. We are loving printing these and placing on our parents/guardians wall. Great conversation starters. As huge advocates of risky play we love seeing these articles available to the wider childcare community’.


The diverse range of topics explored paints a picture of a dynamic, innovative and responsive sector, focused on professionalisation and committed to the principle articulated by the Nobel prize-winning economist, Professor James Heckman, that investing in Early Childhood and Care yields indisputable benefits for children, families and society. The commitment to this principle has never been more important, as a society will inevitably be presented with difficult economic choices in this COVID-19 landscape. For me, the Scéalta blogs indicate that early childhood is in exceptionally capable hands. I am absolutely confident that the 103 early childhood students, my colleagues and I welcomed on campus in the past week, are truly standing on the shoulders of giants who have, against the odds, paved the way for the creation of a vibrant Early Childhood and Care sector. I look forward to directing our students to read and contributing to Scéalta blogs in the future. Thank you to all of the contributors over the past four years for your generosity in sharing your experiences and highlighting that early childhood matters for all of us.




Prof. Emer Ring is Dean of Education (Early Childhood and Teacher Education) Studies at Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Limerick. Emer has been principal investigator on a range of national research projects and her research interests include: early childhood education, the teacher education continuum, inclusion, child voice, pedagogy and autism.  Emer has published and presented widely in these areas. Emer has had a central role in the Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years (LINC) Programme and is a member of the LINC Steering Committee. Emer is co-editor of the forthcoming publication ‘Leading Inclusion from the Inside out: A Handbook for Parents and Early Childhood Teachers in Early Learning and Care, Primary and Special School Settings’, with contributions from colleagues who have made the LINC programme the phenomenal success that it is.  Emer and her colleague Dr. Lisha O’Sullivan conducted the literature review for the Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care settings.

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