Learner Fund to Up-skill Early Years Practitioners (2014 / 2015) – important notice

This notice is for information purposes only and is to advise that the Learner Fund will launch the week commencing 24th of March and that further details will be forthcoming (please see this page for further information). 

As part of a range of initiatives underway to  enhance quality standards in early years services nationally, a ‘Learner Fund’ will be launched by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) in the second half of March 2014.  The Learner Fund will provide funding for a two-year period specifically to assist existing staff working directly with children in registered early years services, to gain certain accredited qualifications which are soon to become mandatory. From September 2015 all staff in Early Years Services will need to have a full Level 5 qualification, and all Preschool (ECCE) Room Leaders will need a full Level 6 qualification*.

The fund will be used to subsidise the cost for eligible learners to undertake accredited Level 5 and Level 6 courses provided by certain approved training providers. It cannot be used to up-skill practitioners other than to meeting the new requirements.   Training courses subsidised under this fund are expected to commence in September 2014. Full details of the eligibility criteria and how to apply will be available when the fund is launched in the coming weeks.

Pobal will be responsible for managing the Learner Fund which will be administered locally by City and County Childcare Committees.

Once the Training Fund is launched:   Training Providers who offer courses in the area of early childhood care and education and who wish to be considered for qualification onto the panel of ‘Approved Training Providers’ should submit an expression of interest (EOI) to Pobal; 

Staff currently employed in registered early years’ services who do not meet the new qualification requirements and who wish to avail of subsidised training under the fund should follow the instruction that will be issued on registering their application. 

Information for Training Providers: Following the Launch of the Learner Fund, Training Providers may submit an online ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) through a link on Pobal’s website. The announcement of the Learner Fund is likely to be during week beginning 24th of March and will also be announced on Pobal’s website. The deadline for submission of an EOI will be three weeks from the date of the announcement. To be eligible, Training Providers will need to meet a number of criteria including being QQI registered with validated programmes of learning.  The EOI process is expected to be completed by the end of May 2014.    

Information for Learner Applicants: Following the launch of the Learner Fund applicants can submit an online application for a subsidised training course under the Learner Fund.   To be eligible, they must be currently working directly with children in a registered early years' service and meet the criteria for the Learner Fund which will be set out in the application process.  A link to this form will be accessible through County Childcare Committee websites and the Pobal website. Application forms will be accepted from the launch date for a period of four weeks. The Learner Fund is limited and it is expected that applications will be considered on a “first-come” basis.   Confirmation of the outcome of applications is expected to have completed in June 2014.

Please check Pobal’s website for further updates as the launch date approaches.

*(Where an existing qualification has previously been accepted by DCYA as meeting a Level 5 or Level 6 requirement it will be recognised as meeting the specified level for the purposed of the new qualification requirement).


 IGC National Conference: 21st, 22nd & 23rd March 2014

Location:  The Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

The 2014 National Conference of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors will be held in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoighaire, Co. Dublin from Friday 21st - Sunday 23rd March. The conference will open at 5.30pm on Friday 21st March and continue with plenary sessions and workshops for delegates on Saturday 22nd March.

Hosted by South Dublin/ Wicklow Branch of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, the three day conference will be attended by Guidance Counsellors working in second level, colleges of further education, private practice and Guidance Counsellors working with adults in a variety of settings.

Recognised by the Department of Education and Skills for provision of continuing professional development education to Guidance Counsellors, the conference has grown over the years and an attendance in excess of 500 Guidance Counsellors is expected for this year’s conference.

In addition to keynote speakers and workshop presentations, the conference provides a unique networking opportunity for exhibitors from colleges and industry to meet with Guidance Counsellors.

We are delighted to announce that the Dublin Institute of Technology will be the major sponsor for this year’s conference which has as its conference theme ‘Supporting Resilience, Empowering Lives'.


DARE & HEAR Advice & Information Sessions for Leaving Cert. Students applying to the schemes running nationwide on Saturday January 11th 2014

In advance of the February 1st CAO application deadline 3rd level Colleges participating in the DARE and HEAR schemes will run application advice clinics around the country this Saturday January 11th 2014.

The 9 information sessions nationwide are open to leaving cert students, their parents or guardians, teachers and guidance counsellors. Students who are considering making an application to either scheme can drop in anytime between 10am and 2pm on January 11th for one-to-one guidance and support on applying to the HEAR and DARE Schemes.

Advisors will offer guidance on how to make a completed application to either or both schemes. The aim of the advice clinics is to reduce the number of incomplete applications received by directly explaining to applicants and their families the supporting documentation required and answering any queries they may have.

Students and parents can get more information on the schemes on including step by step application advice videos and contact details for DARE and HEAR advisors at all participating colleges.

On Saturday January 11th, from 10am to 2pm clinics will be held at the following locations:

Cork: University College Cork - DeVere Hall, Student Centre Dublin: DIT, Aungier St - Courtyard Café Donegal: Ballybofey, Jackson’s Hotel Galway: NUI Galway - Arts Millennium Building

Kildare: NUI Maynooth - Phoenix Building, North Campus

Kilkenny: NUI Maynooth Kilkenny Campus, College Road, Kilkenny  - Collier Room,

Limerick: University of Limerick -  Kemmy Business School

Monaghan: Castleblaney, Glencarn Hotel

Westmeath: Athlone Institute of Technology, Dublin Road, Athlone - Coffee Dock, Main Building

To cover as much of the country as possible additional HEAR and DARE clinics will be held in Kerry, Sligo, Waterford and Wexford on the following dates:

  1. Waterford          13th 7-9pm                  Woodlands Hotel, Dunmore Road
  2. Sligo                  14th 6.30-8.30pm          The Glasshouse Hotel, Swan Point
  3. Kerry                 16th 7-9pm                   Carlton Hotel, Dan Spring Road, Tralee
  4. Wexford            16th 3-8pm                   Ferrycarrig Hotel, Wexford

More information including directions to all clinics can be found on


Qualifax will be exhibiting at the following upcoming events:


Higher Options: 18th, 19th & 20th September 2013.

Time: 9.00am to 3.00pm daily

Location: RDS, Simmonscourt, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Stand: 69 (next to Europass) opposite the Inspire Cafe

Event Website:

Qualifax will have an exhibition stand at this popular event.  The Irish Times Higher Options event help Leaving Cert., Transition Year & 5th Year students make decisions about their study & career options.  Qualifax can help you make informed choices by providing comprehensive information on further and higher education and training.  Ask for a demonstration or just come along for the chat.  Check out the Points Calculator or Interest Assessment Test.  If you are thinking about subject choices, why not browse out our Minimum Subject Requirement Module.  For information on Open Days view our online Calendar of Career Events and lots more......


2013 National Ploughing Championships: 24th, 25th & 26th September, 2013.

Location: Ratheniska, Co Laois.

Event Website:

One of Europe's largest Outdoor Exhibitions and Agricultural Trade Shows attracting on average 189,000 visitors. 

Visit the Qualifax indoor exhibition stand in the Tented Trade Village which caters for every element of rural life including Education, Business, Craft Village, Food Fair, Health, Lifestyles, Home & Garden, Sports & Leisure and Fashion.


Erasmus Ambassadors 2013

“I now know about Erasmus and it’s an option.” Coláiste Bhríde, Carnew, Co Wicklow, Erasmus Ambassadors 2012

Erasmus is an EU programme that allows students at third-level to spend time studying or on work placement in another EU country. Erasmus Ambassadors can give second-level students a first-hand account the experience and why they should think of following in the footsteps of the 32,000 other Irish students who have spent time abroad on Erasmus.

Erasmus Ambassadors can:

Inform parents and students of the study-abroad option on Careers’ night.

“It adds to the cv and distinguishes you from other students”   Loreto Abbey Secondary School Dalkey, 2012

Give a first-hand account to Language students of living and studying in a foreign language

“Through Erasmus you can immerse yourself in the culture and have a better understanding of language”. Scoil Mhuire, Convent of Mercy, Longford, 2012

Be a resource for Transition Year or CSPE projects on a European experience.

“A great experience of another culture and the wide world” Gaelcholáiste Reachrann, Domhnach Míde, Baile Átha Cliath, 2012

How to arrange a visit:

  • From September to December 2013, your school may contact Kildare Education Centre (tel: 045-530200 / email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • The school can then arrange a mutually convenient time and date with the speaker.
  • As with other outside visits, the visit by an Erasmus Ambassador should support the work of the curriculum. It is a matter for each school authority to decide on the suitability of any proposed visitors and to determine the suitability of the support materials and resources to be used. At no time should the speaker be left in an unsupervised capacity withthe student group and the school should ensure that all appropriate measures are in place to ensure the welfare and protection of its pupils.

This pilot project is organised by the Higher Education Authority (the National Agency for Erasmus), in conjunction with the Department of Education & Skills and the Association of Teacher/Education Centres in Ireland (ATECI).

For more information on Erasmus see:


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