Early Years – the organisation for young children

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Early Years – the organisation for young children

The vision that children are:

  • Strong, competent and visible in their communities
  • Physically and emotionally healthy
  • Eager and able to learn
  • Respectful of difference
Formation 1965
Legal status Non-Profit making Organisation
Headquarters Belfast, Northern Ireland
Region served
Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and International
1,147 (year end 2011)
Website http://www.early-years.org/

Early Years – the organisation for young children is a non-profit organisation based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Formerly known as Nippa, they work to promote education [1] and care services for young children. Their service provides support in the form of information and training to parents, childcare providers, employers and local authorities as well as the development of programmes and projects to enhance the care and education [2] provided for children.[3]


Early Years was founded in 1965 where an inaugural meeting was held and attended by 25 people. The organisation was formed as NIPPA and established as part of PPA, the English Pre-School Playgroup Association. A year later, the first AGM and conference were held, offering members within the organisation the opportunity to meet and review the working year of the company in addition to participating in training activities. This event still continues on an annual basis.

Early Years continued to grow and in the year 2007 the name NIPPA was changed to Early Years – the organisation for young children to reflect the range of services being provided.

Organisation overview[edit]

Siobhan Fitzpatrick is the first and current Chief Executive Officer for Early Years – the organisation for young children and has held this responsibility since 1989.

The organisations senior management team comprises three directors each responsible for separate functions and issues within the organisational structure.

Pauline Walmsley is the 'Director of Knowledge Exchange', Siobhan Weiniger is the 'Director of Finance and Corporate Services' and Zelie Sheerin is the 'Director of Operations'.

As a non-profit making organisation Early Years continue to promote high quality childcare and pre-school education for children in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Internationally.[4]

Current work[edit]

Early Years offers a range of programmes and services for Playgroup and Daycare staff, parents and those working with children to promote care and education in addition to addressing issues of social exclusion and respect for differences.[5]

Two major projects introduced to promote a culture of respecting difference and inclusion in early years are the ‘Media Initiative for Children - Respecting Difference Programme’ and the Traveller 'Toybox' project. The 'Media Initiative' programme aims to tackle sectarianism, racism, physical discrimination, ethnicity and bullying whereas the 'Toybox' project challenges institutional racism and supports Traveller children and families to access early education.[6]

To ensure and measure the success of programmes and projects implemented, Early Years also launched the 'CORAL Initiative'. This programme provides evidence that the programmes developed and managed by the organisation such as the 'Eager and Able to Learn' programme, improve long term outcomes for young children.[7]

To extend and consolidate their international relationships,[8] the 'International Network on Peace Building with young Children' was launched as a three-year project led by Early Years and supported by the International Centre for Education and Human Development in Colombia.

The International Network project supports innovation in the field of peace building, enables sharing good practice and utilising these practices. The network also aims to develop an advocacy model in supporting the early childhood sector in conflict.

The innovation in terms of providing services and developing projects continue to grow within the organisation with the launch of a new family health initiative for children within pre-school education in partnership with ‘Cooperation And Working Together’ this year.[9]


  1. ^ "HighScope International Institutes". HighScope Ireland. HighScope. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "Politicians should cherish our most important asset". Educational attainment. Retrieved 18 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "2004 Working Forum: Belfast, Northern Ireland". Building Bridges: Healing Communities through Early Childhood Education”. 2004 Working Forum: Belfast, Northern Ireland. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Connolly, Hayden & Levin, Paul, Jacqueline & Diane (2007). From Conflict to Peace Building: The Power of Early Childhood Initiatives Lessons from Around the World. Redmond: World Forum Foundation. ISBN 978-0-942702-44-6. 
  5. ^ Digimum, Mags (13 October 2010). "Early Years Programme helping to tackle sectarianism and bullying". Retrieved 18 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Connolly, Paul; Miller, S.; Eakin, A. (2010). "A Cluster Randomised Trial Evaluation of the Media Initiative for Children: Respecting Difference Programme" (PDF). Retrieved 18 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Connolly, P., Miller, S. and Eakin, A., Paul, Sarah and Angela (2010). "A Cluster Randomised Trial Evaluation of the Media Initiative for Children: Respecting Difference Programme" (PDF). Connolly, P., Miller, S. and Eakin, A. (2010) A Cluster Randomised Trial Evaluation of the Media Initiative for Children: Respecting Difference Programme, Belfast: Centre for Effective Education, Queen’s University Belfast. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Peacebuilding Learning Group". International Peacebuilding. Una. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "CAWT". Family focused health initiative. CAWT. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 

External links[edit]

  • www.early-years.org
  • www.digimumsni.com
  • www.atlanticphilanthropies.org
  • www.lockton.com
  • www.cforc.org
  • www.paulconnolly.net
  • www.unaglobal.org
  • www.highscope.org
  • www.cawt.com
  • www.worldforumfoundation.org
  • www.qub.ac.uk/