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Scientific Committee – National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019

November 26, 2018

Early Childhood Ireland’s ‘National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019’

Scientific Committee 2019



Dr. Carmel Brennan

Dr. Carmel Brennan recently retired as Head of Training and Practice with Early Childhood Ireland, where she had responsibility for the organisation’s work in developing curriculum, improving practice and supporting services to work with the national frameworks. She now works as a part time lecturer in Maynooth University on the degree and masters in early childhood education programmes. Her research interests are in the areas of curriculum and particularly children’s play – the subject of her PhD thesis. More recently, she focusses on children’s co-construction of stories through play and the relationship between play and artistic enquiry in children’s lives.


Dr Sheila Long – Institute of Technology Carlow, Ireland

Dr Sheila Long has sat on our Scientific Committee for the past couple of years. Sheila has been a lecturer in both Early Childhood Education and Care and Social Care at Institute of Technology Carlow at undergraduate and postgraduate levels for the past five years and has previously worked as a tutor with Early Childhood Ireland, with committed ECEC practitioners working towards gaining qualifications in ECEC at level 6.  As a practitioner Sheila has worked for over ten years with children in a variety of contexts, including Sub-Saharan Africa, and has studied European early years approaches, in particular those of Denmark and Italy and took part in an invaluable study tour with ECI to Norway in 2015. She has recently completed a Doctorate in Childhood Studies, on Children’s Rights Education for Early Years, at Queen’s University Belfast, from which she has developed a model for incorporating children’s rights education into the professional formation of ECEC professionals.


Dr Patsy Stafford – National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM)

Patsy has sat on our Scientific Committee for the past number of years. Patsy began her career as an early years teacher and then a primary school teacher In New York City. Following her return to Ireland, she began working at Froebel College of Education, Blackrock. In 2011, in collaboration with a team from Early Childhood Ireland (then IPPA) she developed the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood – Teaching and Learning part- time degree course to meet the needs of those already working in the Early Childhood Education sector.

Patsy currently works at the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University where she teaches Mathematics & Scientific Enquiry and Early Childhood Education modules on the Bachelor of Education (Primary), the BA in Early Childhood and the Masters in Education courses. Patsy is on the steering committee for the LINC programme and has worked on the development and evaluation of the course.


Dr Maja Haals Brosnan – Marino Institute of Education, Dublin, Ireland

Dr Maja Haals Brosnan is a lecturer in early childhood education at the Marino Institute of Education with a particular expertise in research methods, policy and practice, social and educational disadvantage as well as constructions of childhood. She completed her PhD in social anthropology on childhood adversity in post-genocide Rwanda and has published in this field. Prior to her lectureship at MIE, she lectured in early childhood education at Maynooth University and worked as research coordinator for the Children’s Research Network, where she was responsible for convening a number of research groups, including early childhood education, play and child participation, and acting as chief editor of the Children’s Research Digest. She has also worked as a researcher for Early Childhood Ireland and for the Centre for Effective Services.

Dr Brosnan is currently involved in research with the NCCA on parental involvement and is working on various publications in the field of early childhood as well as childhood adversity in Rwanda. She has just begun a 3-year term as external examiner for the BA in Early Childhood Care and Education at Mary Immaculate College and serves on a number of scientific committees and boards, including the Development Studies Association of Ireland.


Dr Mary Daly – National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Ireland

Dr Mary Daly has sat on our Scientific Committee for the past number of years in addition to sitting on EECERA Scientific Committee.  Mary worked in the area of early childhood in Ireland in a number of different capacities over the past 18 years. She has been with the NCCA for the past decade. Her work there involved the development of Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (NCCA, 2009), and the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide on line resource to help improve the quality of curriculum practice.  Recently she has worked on the development of Mo Scéal reporting templates to share information about children’s learning and development as they move from preschool to primary school. Mary has a BA in Early Childhood Studies from UCC and also has a Ph D which focused on the emotional, social, moral and spiritual development of the young child. She published a book based on her Ph D called Developing the whole child: the importance of the emotional, social, moral and spiritual in early years education and care and has presented and published nationally and internationally on early childhood.


Dr Thomas Walsh – National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM)

Dr Thomas Walsh has sat on our Scientific Committee for the past number of years. Thomas is a lecturer in the Maynooth University Department of Education. He started his professional career as a primary school teacher. Between 2002 and 2007, he worked as a Development Officer at the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE). While at the CECDE, he published a number of reports on early childhood education and played a central role in the development of Síolta, the National Quality Framework. Prior to joining Maynooth University in 2014, Thomas worked as an Inspector with the Department of Education and Skills. In addition to his work in schools, he contributed extensively to policy work within the Curriculum and Assessment Unit where he had particular responsibility around early childhood education. In Maynooth University, he teachers on a number of courses within the Department of Education relating to history of education and education policy. He also acts as a supervisor of research students and as an external examiner.


Dr Sheila Garrity – National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)

Dr Sheila Garrity has sat our Scientific Committee for the past number of years.  Dr Sheila Garrity Ph.D. is the Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre, School of Political Science & Sociology and the Academic Coordinator of the BA Honours Degree in Early Childhood Studies & Practice and the MA in Early Childhood Studies, delivered through the Centre for Adult Learning & Professional Development at NUI Galway. Dr Garrity lectures on a number of modules across these three institutions, including in the MA in Family Support Studies at the U-CFRC. Sheila supervises MA research students in Early Childhood and Family Support, U-CFRC doctoral students and contributes to a number of Graduate Research Committees across the University. Sheila was the Principal Investigator on a recent study: ‘Hoping for a Better tomorrow: A process study evaluation of the Greater Tomorrow Crèche and Ballyhaunis Community Pre-School, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo’ (UCFRC, 2016). Sheila completed her PhD in 2014; her doctoral research was an ethnographic study of relationships between mothers and their childcare providers within the Irish Early Years context.


Roisin McGlone – Sligo Institute of Technology, Sligo

Roisin has been a lecturer in Management and Leadership for the BA Honours in Early Childhood Care and Education programmes at the Institute of Technology, Sligo since 2003. She was joint author of the MA in Leadership and Advocacy for the Early Years in 2014 and is currently Programme Chair. She was the founding Placement Coordinator for the BA programme, and has delivered the Level 7 Supervision Theory and Practice Certificate in several out-reach sites since 2016. Roisin currently sits on the Academic Council of the Institute representing the Department of Social Sciences. She has been a Director of Sligo County Childcare, Chair and currently Vice Chair since 2000 and has been actively involved as the first Chair and current member of Pedagogy, Learning and Play, the network organisation for higher education institutions providing degree programmes in ECEC. Roisin was nominated in 2013 by the then Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald to the Expert Working Group to develop Right From the Start, the foregrounding policy document for First Five. In addition, she recently represented the Institutes of Technology to develop the Draft Guidelines for the initial Professional Education Degree qualifications of Early Childhood students. Prior to academia, Roisin worked for a range of multi-national corporations in a strategic marketing role in Australia, the US and the UK, and has also worked in a mentoring role with SMEs in the entrepreneurship, community development and early childhood sectors.


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