Inclusive Educator Awards

Iya Cullen special sensory day at Scoil Mhuire Sandymount
Neurodiversity Ireland is launching the Inclusive Educator Awards to celebrate the outstanding contribution of principals, teachers, resource teachers and SNAs, as role models, in creating an inclusive school environment. Principals, teachers and SNAs who inspire and support students in these challenging, resource-constrained environments are changing lives and they deserve to be recognised! Every child has the right to the same opportunities as their peers, regardless of their differences or the challenges they may face. Lorna Danaher, Sponsorship manager at Energia says ‘’We are delighted to be sponsoring the Neurodiversity Ireland Inclusive Educator Awards. At Energia, we want to support those who believe in inclusive education and encourage everyone to think of the possibilities. This award is for those letting children BE THEMSELVES to allow them to reach their full potential’’.
Education tailored to children with additional needs enables every student to gain a high level of independence and reach their full potential.  Neurodiversity Ireland wants to recognise the vital role that brilliant additional needs educators are playing in changing the lives of children and parents throughout Ireland.  To highlight these great contributions, the organisation is launching the annual Neurodiversity Ireland Inclusive Educator Awards with the support of the Department of Education and the Department of Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth, to celebrate and recognise the importance of those individuals who are empowering, educating and supporting our amazing, neurodiverse children. 
In conjunction with the launch of the Neurodiversity Ireland Inclusive Educator Awards, Neurodiversity Ireland is also launching its ‘LETMEBEME’ back to school campaign.  The ‘LETMEBEME” campaign aims to give a platform to neurodivergent adults and kids to share what helps them feel themselves, to feel happy and support their success.  Interested contributors are invited to use the #LETMEBEME hashtag to share their thoughts and feelings.
As part of the ‘LETMEBEME’ campaign and to help with the transition to starting or going back to school, Neurodiversity Ireland is sharing stories from our neurodiverse community about the accommodations or small differences that can allow children to feel safe, comfortable and happy to be themselves.
“It has been a long three months since children with additional needs were in the structure of a school environment, to set them up for success they will need lots of support, understanding and flexibility, not only from teachers but from staff and students as well” says Dairine Cullen, Director of Neurodiversity Ireland. Cullen says that a rigid approach to teaching and the class environment can be incredibly difficult and damaging for some young people with hidden or learning disabilities or additional needs, which is why Neurodiversity Ireland are launching their LETMEBEME campaign and Inclusive Educator Awards. 
Cullen says it is the small things that can make the biggest difference to children settling back into school; “When I was younger and being dyslexic, I dreaded school starting.  I was just so fearful of having to write on the blackboard or read out loud in class, however when I had a teacher who understood why and challenged me in different ways, it was life changing. Also, as the mother of an autistic girl I am relieved (and so is she) that her school is very supportive. She struggles with the sensation involved in wearing the school uniform, but luckily her school is very flexible and she can wear clothes that let her feel comfortable and safe.  By removing what would otherwise be a constant and overwhelming irritation, the school is helping to ensure that she has the best set up for learning and playing”.  
“Having a positive learning experience really comes down to having strong psychological safety in the school environment.  The objective of our Inclusive Educator Awards is to celebrate, recognise and reward the educators who truly promote an inclusive learning culture and ethos throughout their entire school”, concluded Cullen.
Inclusive educators can support a “LETMEBEME” teaching culture and support children with additional educational needs in a number of different ways including:
·        Creating a “LETMEBEME” learning culture, by moving away from insistence upon historical, rigid learning methods which are unproductive, towards an inclusive and child-centred approach, creating an environment that supports each child’s differences and unique skills (e.g not insisting upon “whole body listening”) 
·        Assessing and recording children’s needs and adapting and evolving teaching as those needs evolve
·        Creating or ensuring the best physical learning environment for each child (for example by assessing the physical environment for and reducing as far as possible sensory-stress and by providing such equipment as may be possible to facilitate sensory regulation)  
·        Maximising opportunities for integration with the class, school year and school community and the wider community 
·        Making opportunities to ensure that each child with additional needs feels included in their class and school setting, by removing markers, references, systems or labels, which have historically set those children apart from their peers (such as removing references to “ASD Unit”/“Special Class,” by creating movement breaks for the whole class rather than for one child, by providing aprons suitable for the entire class rather than a separate apron for the child with sensory issues etc)
·        Meeting with and assisting parents and class teacher/s
·        Meeting other professionals responsible for the child’s well-being, such as psychologists, speech and language therapists etc and integrating their recommendations into a child’s education program and the class setting
·        Working with and promoting a child’s use of AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)
They are extending the nominations to Principals and SNAs who have supported a truly inclusive teaching environment and promoted a “LETMEBEME” learning culture.
Inclusive Educator Awards Categories
·    Principal / Vice-Principal / Year Head creating a truly inclusive environment by virtue of their school’s ethos and culture 
·    Best teacher contribution to promoting “LETMEBEME” learning including resource teachers 
·    Best SNA contribution to supporting “LETMEBEME” learning 
When do nominations open: The Inclusive Educator Awards launch on September 1, 2022, and will recognise the contributions made during the school year of 2021/2022. Nominations can come from parents, students or the general public.  
Who can be nominated: Principals, SNAs and teachers who are supporting and changing children’s lives by making an inclusive learning culture, allowing kids to be completely themselves!  
When does the competition close: The Neurodiversity Ireland committee will decide the winner on September 30, 2022, drawn from a pool of nominees submitted via our online form; here
When are winners announced: The winners will be announced at the Neurodiversity Ireland Infinity Ball on October 8, 2022.  
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Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at



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