Keynote Speakers

Prof Dr Michel Vandenbroeck

Early Childhood Education in the interest of Children, Parents and Communities

Prof. Dr. Michel Vandenbroeck | Ghent University, Brussels

It is well known that ECEC is in the best interest of children. There has been less attention for the interest of parents and local communities, despite the fact that ECEC can foster social support and social cohesion. However, we can only expect the societal impact of ECEC when quality is achieved in five dimensions: accessibility, professionalisation, curriculum, monitoring and governance.

Michel Vandenbroeck is Professor in Family Pedagogy and Head of the Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy at Ghent University, Belgium. His research focuses on early childhood and parent support, with a special interest for in- and exclusion in contexts of diversity. Together with Liselott Olsson, he is coordinating editor of the book series “Contesting Early Childhood” (Routledge), where he recently published a book on constructions of neuroscience in early childhood education. For his critical work, relating pedagogy and policy in ECEC, he was rewarded with an honorary doctorate at Tampere University.

Dr Siobhán Fitzpatrick CBE

30 years of the UNCRC – what is the current state of play for young children

Dr Siobhán Fitzpatrick CBE | CEO of Early Years – the organisation for young children

This keynote address will discuss how policy for young children in Northern Ireland reflects the commitment within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Paying particular attention to General Comment Number 7, which was introduced by the UN Committee to focus member states on their responsibility to young children, Dr. Fitzpatrick will reflect on the achievements and challenges over the past 30 years and highlight some key actions which need to be taken to ensure that Northern Ireland fully embraces a commitment to the rights of young children.

Dr Siobhán Fitzpatrick CBE has been a leader in the early childhood sector in Northern Ireland for the past 30 years and is CEO of Early Years. The Organisation supports 40,000 children and families and provides support, training and quality assurance for 12,000 staff in the early years sector across Northern Ireland. Dr. Fitzpatrick was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Queens University Belfast in 2017 for Public Service and a CBE from Queen Elizabeth in 2010 for services to community development, education and peace building.

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