Over 150 people gathered in the Radisson Blu Hotel on Friday for a Donegal County Childcare Seminar ‘Reflection of Learning’.

The Seminar was organised to mark the completion of an Atlantic Philanthropies funded project called the Professional Pedagogy Project that saw a number of early childhood services in Donegal take part in a newly developed training and mentoring initiative aimed at improving quality standards and informing early years policy.

Donegal County Childcare was only one of 11 projects nationally to be awarded funding and was the only project north of Dublin to successfully secure a place on this national initiative.

Avril McMonagle, County Childcare Manager, received high praise at the event for her work in bringing this valuable project to the county.

Delegates at the event heard about the legacy that the project has left behind including a body of research evidence that will inform the development of the new Government initiative to develop a National Early Years Support Service commencing in September 2014.

As one of the legacy components of the project a new Transitions Statement was launched by Bernie McDonnell, Equality Programme Manager of Pobal which will facilitate the transference of information between pre-school and primary school in Donegal.

This is the first statement of its kind to be developed for early childhood education and talks have already taken place with the Early Years Policy Unit in the Department of Education to make the transition statement and associated training available to the early childhood sector nationally.

Commenting on this new development, Avril McMonagle said, “When we think of the rich body of information that is gained whilst a child is in the pre-school year, it seems ridiculous that we don’t have a mechanism for passing this information on to the primary school. This is important for all children but extremely important for children who may have additional learning needs.

We have already successfully piloted the transitions statement through the project and we have now secured additional funding to roll it out across all early childhood services in Donegal – we will deal with the rest of the country after that!” she said.

The voices of the various participants on the project were portrayed through a number of insightful media packages played intermittently throughout the morning. The overall success of the project was clear to be seen as participants talked about the positive changes they had experienced in their practice and the subsequent benefits children’s learning and development.

Contributors to the event hailed Donegal Childcare as a leading advocate for improvements and supports for the early childhood sector nationally and work is ongoing to ensure that the legacy of the Professional Pedagogy Project will have a positive impact on not just the services that participated in the initiative, but on all early childhood services across Donegal.

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