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Childhood Studies Team Receives AONTAS Star Award 2021


Published: 15 March 2021

Our Childhood Studies Girdwood Level 2 Childcare team is celebrating after receiving a beautifully hand crafted AONTAS Star award after the announcement that they were awarded Highly Commended in the Social Inclusion (Large Organisation) category.

This is an excellent exemplar of a social inclusion and widening participation initiative which has supported disadvantaged adults to engage in adult lifelong learning and gain industry relevant skills and qualifications, leading to employment in the important Early years sector.

AONTAS is an all-Ireland, life-long learning organisation and their social inclusion award category is open to adult learning initiatives that support all participants to effectively engage with their local community and contribute to social and cultural life.

The team were informed a few weeks ago that they had been short listed to the final three in Ireland out of hundreds of applications. They went forward as a team to a panel interview to present the project with one of their students Ipsita Chatterjee. Ipsita completed her Level 2 City and Guilds Children’s Care, Learning and Development at Belfast Met Girdwood Campus gaining employment after her placement with Wee Care Day nursery. Ipsita is now enrolled part time completing her L3 Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development at Millfield and has aspirations to then complete her L5 Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development (Management).

Stuart Dickinson, Curriculum Area Manager for Childhood Studies, said: “Working with my esteemed colleagues Rosemary Snoddy and Carole Howard as well as our inspiring student Ipsita Chatterjee in putting together the AONTAS application was a privilege and such a positive experience. We wanted to capture the essence of the project so we felt ‘Journey to Achievement’ was the best way to frame this. To be shortlisted in the category of Social Inclusion (Large Organisation) in the most hotly contested category and then to reach the final three in Ireland illustrates how powerful and life changing this project has been for all who participated while demonstrating the impact of community based education as a conduit for lifelong learning. To receive a ‘Highly Commended’ award in this category has meant the world to us all and we deeply appreciate this recognition’

Ipsita talked about the added value of her experience during the awards process, “I recently got an opportunity to represent Girdwood CCLD Level 2 at the AONTAS and it has been an excellent experience for me. The overall process has been exciting and provided a lot of exposure where we were able to demonstrate the learning process at Belfast Met which sealed a highly commended award for the team.

“This really goes on to show the value of this programme run by Belfast Met. It has been a pleasure working with Stuart, Rosemary and Carole who made sure that I was comfortable during each stage of this competition, for which I am really thankful to them.”

(Pictured are Lecturers Carole Howard and Rosemary Snoddy with their student Ipsita Chatterjee).

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