Promoting access and participation in Early Years services in the county including the ECCE programme. We collaborate with Donegal County Childcare Committee to promote inclusion and diversity training for early years providers.
- The National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2027-2021 (NTRIS) has recommended that all relevant Government Departments and agencies promote the Early Childcare and Education (ECCE) pre-school scheme, as well as the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) for Children with a Disability, within the Traveller and Roma communities, in order to facilitate access for every child to free pre-school from the age of three until they start school.
- A European Union–funded survey of Roma confirmed the strong influence of preschool education on pupils’ competencies. In every aspect monitored, differences were displayed between Roma children who attend kindergarten and Roma children who do not. (Roma Early Childhood Inclusion 2015)
- We work to raise awareness and consciousness in the community on the role of education, in particular early years education, in achieving equality.
- We promote access and participation in early years services in the county including ECCE. This includes collaborating with Donegal County Childcare Committee to promote inclusion and diversity training for early years providers.
- St Gabriel’s preschool on Convent Road, Letterkenny is an innovative model, combining interculturalism and indoor/outdoor activity for upwards on 40 preschool children from up to a dozen ethnic backgrounds in a service designed and led by Travellers. The school which opened in 1997, delivers a full curriculum in an outdoor play and learning environment. It is run with an intercultural ethos, enrolling children from a wide range of cultural backgrounds including Traveller and Roma. The vast majority of the staff are from the Traveller community.
In 2017, the preschool began expanding its outdoor learning and play area which today includes an outdoor classroom, sensory areas, a playhouse, a storytelling dome, a sand pit, and garden, all designed to enable learning activities to take place outdoors as well as inside the school. There is a strong emphasis on imaginative play with a mud area and fairy fort proving popular attractions for the children.
New additions in 2022 included a climbing feature and tyre challenge, aimed to help children with motor development, risky play and turn taking. Also in 2022 St Gabriel’s signed up to the Better Start National Early Years Quality Development Programme, a national programme to promote and enhance inclusive high-quality Early Learning and Care. Plans were also underway to expand the vegetable garden to include sensory plants and flowers and make it even more child-friendly.