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Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years (LINC)

  • Programme Overview
  • Programme Content
  • Entry Requirements
  • How to Apply
  • Ask a Question

Programme Overview

The Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years programme (LINC) is a Level 6 Special Purpose Award (Higher Education) that is designed to support the inclusion of children with additional needs in the early years. Once qualified, graduates will perform the role of Inclusion Coordinator while working within their early years setting and have ECCE Room Leader status. LINC is offered by a consortium led by Mary Immaculate College, and including Early Childhood Ireland and Maynooth University – The Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education.

Key Features

The development of the programme is part of a government response to local, national and international demands for high quality education and training leading towards graduate pathways in the combined field of early childhood care and education (ECCE). The programme - funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) - seeks to address the need for continuing professional development (CPD) in relation to the inclusion of children with additional needs.

The LINC programme is delivered 100% online to suit the flexible requirements of those working in Early Learning & Care. Participants watch lessons and interact with the tutors who teach the programme using forums and our online learning platform called Moodle.

The LINC Programme is a Multi-Award Winning Programme and has been the recipient of awards for excellence in education five times, having been shortlisted for 13 awards in total.

  • In 2017, it was awarded an Education Award in the Best Online Learning Experience Category.
  • In 2018, it received the prestigious Jennifer Burke Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.
  • In 2019, it was awarded an Education Award for Student Communication and Engagement.
  • In 2020, it was once again voted the Best Online Learning Experience at the Education Awards.
  • In 2022, it received a Highly Commended Award from Aontas for its work in the area of social inclusion.
  • In 2023, it has once again been shortlisted in the Best Online Learning Experience at the Education Awards.

Early Learning and Care Settings that register an Inclusion CoOrdinator (INCO) who has graduated from LINC will receive an extra €2 per week in capitation per ECCE-eligible child in a pre-school room, where the child is on an ECCE/CCSP/TEC programme. Subject to detailed operational guidelines, the increase applies from a) graduation of the Inclusion Coordinator from the higher education programme and b) completion of a signed agreement by the Inclusion Coordinator that they will take on the roles and responsibilities associated with the post. 

The additional €2 capitation applies to all children in the setting.

Aims & Objectives

  • To equip participants with the knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies to support the participation of children with additional needs in early years settings.
  • To prepare participants to adopt a leadership role within early years settings that enables them to support and supervise other staff in the setting to plan for, implement and review inclusive practice.
  • To support participants to develop their professional knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies in relation to the inter-related areas, which comprise the programme modules, with a particular focus on embedding inclusive practice in Aistear – The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and Síolta, the National Quality Framework. 
  • To deliver on-going support in study skills and information and communication technology (ICT) for participants.

For more information, see the dedicated LINC website here.


Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years (LINC) Programme

T: +353 61 204545



Programme Content

The LINC Programme comprises of 6 modules delivered over 2 semesters (Autumn and Spring) and amounting to 60 credits (ECTS). The programme is based on an online model of delivery (i.e. online learning and online classroom sessions), addressing the flexible learning requirements of our students. Each module will consist of 3 recorded lessons each week which you can listen to at any time, a weekly online tutorial, and one live class/webinar per module.

Students will engage in a mentoring call with their individual Tutor. The purpose of the mentoring call is to support the student in applying the concepts and theories from LINC to their practice through exploring inclusive culture, inclusive practice and inclusive pedagogy.

Assessments include: written assignments and multiple-choice quizzes.  Assessments will focus on linking practical knowledge of working in your setting to the Linc module content.

The programme is embedded in Aistear – the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, and Siolta – the National Quality Framework.

Module Title, ECTS & Semester Delivered
Inclusion in Early Years Settings: Concepts and Strategies (12 ECTS): Autumn
Child Development (6 ECTS): Autumn
Promoting Collaborative Practice for Inclusion in ECCE (12 ECTS): Autumn/Spring
Curriculum for Inclusion (6 ECTS): Spring
Leadership for Inclusion (12 ECTS): Spring
Portfolio Module (12 ECTS): Autumn/Spring

For Module Outlines, see LINC website here.

Entry Requirements

Who can apply?

  • Any early learning and care setting with a pre-school room that is contracted for any DCEDIY Early Years Programme (ECCE/CCSP/TEC) can nominate an employee for LINC. The setting manager can nominate themselves or any member of the setting’s staff.
  • To be eligible for LINC, Applicants must have the minimum qualifications to work in an Early Learning & Care Setting, in accordance with the DCEDIY’s Early Years Recognised Qualification Listing
  • Settings that already have a LINC graduate working in their setting can nominate another employee from their settings to complete LINC this year, based on the criteria outlined below. Only one application allowed per eligible setting.
  • Random selection of eligible applicants will apply. Priority will be given to eligible applications in the following order:
    1. Settings that do not currently employ a LINC graduate /INCO/Current LINC Student.

    2. Settings that already employ a LINC graduate and have over 22 ECCE-aged children attending*.

    3. All other settings.

*As registered with Pobal in September 2022

For more information, see the LINC website here.

How to Apply

Opening Date for Applications: 13 March 2023.

Fees: As the course is fully funded by the DCEDIY, it is free to participate in.  Only settings that hold a contract to deliver the ECCE/CCS/TEC programme, funded by the DCEDIY are eligible to nominate a candidate.

Student Bursary: There is a once-off payment of €200, to each participating eligible student. This payment is to assist in covering expenses arising from participating on the programme.

Applications are made online here.

Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years (LINC) Programme
+353 61 204545

Ask a Question

  • Programme Overview
  • Programme Content
  • Entry Requirements
  • How to Apply
  • Ask a Question