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External Judging Panel 2019

February 6, 2019

Áine Lynch


Áine started her career as a trainee accountant, then changed direction and qualified as a general and paediatric nurse. After a number of years in nursing, she went back to full-time education where she completed an honours degree in Behavioural Sciences. Áine worked for two years in the area of child psychiatry, following which she went on to work for the ISPCC as the Childline Manager. She finished nine years with the ISPCC as the Director of Services, and in August 2007 was appointed CEO of the National Parents Council Primary (NPC). Áine was appointed to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) by the Minister for Education and Skills; served on the Board of the Children’s Rights Alliance and was appointed to the Teaching Council in April 2016 and served on the first fitness-to-teach hearing panel.



Anne Fitzpatrick

Anne Fitzpatrick worked for many years as a lecturer and tutor on the BA Early Childhood Education programme in the Technological University Dublin (formerly DIT).  Before that she worked in a variety of early years services in both the community and disability sectors. Her teaching and research interests focus mainly on early years practice, including inter-generational learning, the professional development of early years practitioners and partnership with families and communities. Since 2012, she has participated in an EU-funded project entitled ‘Together Old and Young’ (TOY) that promotes inter-generational learning between young children and older people. As part of the project, she contributed to the development of a blended learning course on inter-generational learning that is now freely available online ( She is currently researching inter-generational learning in the early childhood sector from the perspectives of young children, older persons and early years practitioners.




Dr. Geraldine French

Dr. Geraldine French is the Programme Chair of the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education degree at the Institute of Education, DCU and a specialist in early childhood education. Her doctoral thesis is in the area of pedagogical interactions between adults and very young children in early childhood settings, with a particular focus on educational inequality. She has worked for a variety of governmental and voluntary organisations, national and international, in conducting continued professional development, research, needs analysis, evaluations and consultancy for strategic planning. She has published in the area of quality professional practice in early childhood settings.




Michelle Hart

Michelle Hart is the Siolta/Aistear Manager with the National Childhood Network NCN (formerly the BCCN).  She was employed in a variety of settings in the statutory and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland, before coming to work at the National Childhood Network seventeen years ago. Michelle has a BA (hons) Early Years and an MSc in Inclusion and the Early Years.

Core work involves overseeing the implementation of Siolta/Aistear within NCN, supporting other Siolta/Aistear mentors within the organization and nationally. Michelle spends a great deal of time advising on a range of early year’s policy and practice at local, regional and national level. Michelle has developed the emotional well-being element for the Healthy Ireland Smart Start programme which is now available nationwide and is currently working on extending this emotional well-being programme for the under 3’s. Other areas of interest includes developing curriculum practice, and listening to the voice of the child.

When not working she likes to walk, read, and swim and is an avid Harry Potter fan!



>>>For more information on the National Annual Awards 2019, please click here


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