Centre for Expertise, Research and Innovation

From the beginning, NCI envisaged ELI acting as a Centre of Excellence from which other communities and governments, nationally and internationally, could learn how to improve the educational and life chances of children and their families across Ireland and further afield.

As ELI’s activities grew exponentially, balancing local programme delivery with national advocacy and mainstreaming activities was challenging. As part of NCI’s Strategic Plan, a Centre of Expertise, Research and Innovation (CERI) was established within ELI to capture and build on its achievements to date and its strategic ambitions.

NCI’s Academic Strategy 2019-24 details NCI strategic ambitions of being a national leader in accessibility, widening participation and educational pathways through a life cycle approach. At present, an institution wide strategy for NCI is being developed. It will incorporate our academic strategy, our physical campus requirements, the significant digitisation of delivery over the past 18 months, our ambition around institutional positioning, and our commitment to mission, access, student supports and services and community engagement.

Through ELI, NCI’s access programmes start at birth and support children to start school with the language, literacy and numeracy skills needed for success in education, career and life.

ELI’s 2020-25 Strategic Objectives are 

  • National leader and centre of expertise in accessibility, widening participation and educational pathways with a particular focus on early childhood and family learning.   
  • National centre for the development of sustainable models of Home Visiting across Ireland and innovative emerging future orientated family home-based learning. 
  • Innovation centre for adapting and transforming our existing activities, pedagogies, and processes to remain responsive to everchanging needs and policy contexts. 
  • Pioneering research to capture new knowledge and practices and disseminate them locally, nationally, and internationally. 
  • Develop our expertise in capacity-building for long-term sustainability planning, particularly in relation to programmes and services for children and young people in statutory, voluntary and community sectors. 

CERI is a focal point for knowledge management, capacity-building, communication and influencing in relation to educational disadvantage, access and ELI’s growing expertise in supporting other communities to deliver high quality Home Visiting programmes, in line with the Irish Government’s First 5 A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028. The overall goal is to capture new knowledge and practices in these areas and disseminate them locally, nationally and internationally. It supports and learns from ELI’s work in Dublin’s Inner City and uses it as an example of best practice from which other communities can learn.  

At present, CERI supports a combination of the following activities: 

  1. Scaling up sustainable models of Home Visiting programmes across Ireland. 
  2. Research and innovation in response to quality assurance and everchanging contexts. 
  3. Building partnerships to increase influence and impact. 
  4. Sustaining and developing the portfolio of Dublin’s Inner-City Programmes.