With its long record in producing early childhood education graduates, IT Sligo was the appropriate backdrop for the ministerial launch of a major childcare services report following the Cabinet’s recent meeting at Lissadell House on Wednesday last.
“This document offers a clear vision for future investment in early years and school-age services,” Dr James Reilly, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said of the report, which he described as “the most ambitious, detailed and costed plan for childcare ever produced by Government”.
Dr Perry Share, Head of the School of Business and Social Sciences at IT Sligo said. “Early childhood care and education, if it is good quality, has substantial and long term benefit to all the children of this country. It is really about investing in our children and the country’s future.”
The Minister took the opportunity to see a purpose-designed pre-school education facility at the Institute. The focus of the “early years childhood care and education skills laboratory” is on undergraduate use. There, undergraduates are taught skills that are needed to nurture vital early years learning abilities.
Dr Breda McTaggart, Head of the Department of Social Science, said: “IT Sligo’s early childhood degree programme is probably one of the very few in the country that has a designated learning space for students to develop the professional skills necessary to educate and care for the younger child.
“We have two such spaces indoors and another, which will be novel in itself because it is outdoor, will open in September.”
Emphasing that children learn through playing, she explained: “The facilities here are not about ‘play’ but, rather, to teach our students how to use them to unlock children’s early years potential, for instance in developing early mathematics and communications skills or getting to grips with and learning from our natural environment.”
The BA course is heavily in demand and attracts an intake of more than 70 students at the start of each academic year.