If you hold a Level 7 BA (Ord) degree in Early Childhood Studies you can top up your degree to a Level 8 BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies in just 10 months through blended learning. This final year course consists of an individual research project with supporting seminars held on allocated weekends.
Start Date27th February 2021
QualificationLevel 8 Honours Degree
Course Duration8 months
If you hold a Level 7 BA (Ord) degree in Early Childhood Studies you can top up your degree to a Level 8 BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies in just 10 months through blended learning.
In this final year of the Level 8 degree you will complete an individual research project by carrying out a systematic investigation of a topic related to the early years sector. The project provides you with opportunities to improve your critical thinking and research skills. Students on this programme refine their academic writing and communication skills as well as getting the opportunity to investigate in detail a topic or area in their current practice that interests them. This award is also listed with the DCYA (Dept. of Children and Youth Studies) for higher capitation purposes.
At the early stages of the programme you will attend three tutorials which help you prepare for the project, understand how to work with academic literature, select suitable research methods, address ethical concerns and most importantly formulate the questions which they will try and answer in their research. While the project involves a lot of independent study, each student is assigned an individual supervisor who provides guidance and mentorship throughout the research and write up process.
Completing a research project is a valuable learning experience which has lasting benefits for learners’ personal and professional development.
Why should I study this course?
In Ireland there is an obvious need for well-qualified, graduate level, early childhood practitioners working with young children and their families across all sectors in Ireland: play, care, health and education. However up-skilling to honours degree level whilst working full-time can prove extremely difficult, the physical time required to attend class and the related costs can simply prove to be a difficult commitment to make. Portobello Institute recognises those challenges by delivering this programme through a blended learning mode with recognition of prior learning for previously achieved qualifications. Students have the opportunity to still pursue this academic route and achieve an Honours Degree in Early Childhood Studies, opening up the oppportunity to progress to a Masters in Early Childhood Studies also offered by LMU.
Studying this world class degree in the intimate and supportive environment offered by Portobello Institute is a unique opportunity for students. The Institute are renowned for extensive student support. We offer small intimate environments, provision of draft assignments and formative feedback prior to submission, individual module tutors and the support of a Programme Manager to ensure the smooth running of the programme and enhance the learning experience to each of our students throughout their academic journey.
Who will recognise my qualification?
BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies
Qualifications Frameworks in Ireland and the UK
The Irish and UK qualifications authorities have collaborated on initiatives that promote the transparency, recognition and mobility of qualifications between our respective jurisdictions. The qualifications authorities in the UK and Ireland have agreed the qualifications frameworks in operation, Brexit will not impact this agreement. Further guidance on this framework is available here.
What will I study during this BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies course?
Who will I learn from?
I started my career in education at the age of 16 and was teaching English to preschool and school-aged children in Kyiv, Ukraine. To develop my interest in languages and teaching, I completed a BA and then MA in Teaching English and German, followed by a PhD in Linguistics at Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv. Between 2000 and 2005, I worked at the English Language Department of the university and was responsible for teaching English to future English teachers and interpreters and supervising student research projects.
Having married an Irishman, I moved to Ireland in 2005 and as I started having my own children, I developed an interest in early childhood education. I completed training in Montessori education and started my career as a Montessori Teacher. Around that time Siolta and Aistear frameworks were introduced and I realised that I wanted to enlarge my knowledge about the variety of methods and approaches used to educate children. This led me to a BA Hons in Early Childhood Studies with Portobello Institute/London Metropolitan University and after completion of this programme with First Class Honours I taught on Portobello level 5 and 6 Early Childhood Care and Education programmes while still continuing to work directly with children and families in Early Years settings. In 2018, I joined the Portobello team in a full-time capacity as the Programme Manager for the degree programmes and my role is focused on providing positive learning experiences for the students through leading the team of tutors and working with other Portobello departments as well as communicating with the teaching team at LMU.
I am eager to learn more about third level education and working with adult learners. I am currently completing a MA in Education, Learning and Development programme.
Why did you choose to work in education?
I believe that the learner-centred approach is as important in third level as it is in early childhood education. The student’s well-being is very important and it is only when the student feels they are welcome and accepted as unique individuals, learning can take place. I work to create this welcoming atmosphere and make sure that students have no barriers in approaching the team, that they receive the necessary information timely, know where to get help and can get help. Education is not just about content knowledge, it is about making relationships, meeting inspiring people, learning from others – and this is what we offer the students in our department and in our Institute.
Your experience as a Programme Manager.
I am really proud of the programmes we offer. A lot of the assignments are practice-based and both, those students who are new to the industry, and experienced practitioners, have a lot of opportunities to reflect on their work with children and families and learn to align it with best practice and research evidence. Our teaching team is very strong and they strive to help the students along this journey – we employ tutors who do not only have the academic knowledge but also have industry experience so they can relate in the theory to practice in a real way. My role is to develop and support the teaching team and ensure that we are meeting our students’ needs.
The students in our department come from a variety of backgrounds. Many of them have been out of formal education for a long time, many are experiencing third level education for the first time. Some have a fear of using technology and online systems, some have learning difficulties. We understand that each student’s needs and situations are unique. We do our best to support them and we are thrilled to celebrate their success on the graduation day – their success is our success!
Ever since I started tutoring with Portobello, I’ve been inspired by the learner profile of those who study with the college. The majority of Early Childhood Studies students are practitioners who have to juggle the pressures of work, study and family life. These are people who want to better themselves despite any difficulties that might come their way. This is what motivates me to do my work on a daily basis. And as a mum of three children, who also combines work and study, I feel I am in the right place to be able to understand our students.
In addition, I think we have an excellent team working for the college. I am surrounded by like-minded and hard-working people, some of whom have become really good friends. I am blown away in how creative and innovative our senior management is in advancing the college work and how supportive they are of the team.
Because our team is compact and closely-knit, I believe we can communicate a lot better and meet the students’ needs more effectively and efficiently than many other institutions. We are currently putting emphasis on improving our student feedback system and this will be instrumental in further promoting quality in our department.
- MA Teaching English and German
- PhD Linguistics
- BA Hons Early Childhood Studies
- PGr Cert Training and Education
- Early Childhood Ireland Research and Practice Seminar
Personal Academic Tutor
Each student is assigned a personal academic tutor to support you throughout your learning journey. They are available to offer you telephone and email support at any time. You can arrange to meet them for further one to one guidance at a time convenient to you.
Many of our past graduates have found it is the opportunity to ask a simple question, seek direction and submit a draft of their assessment that supported them most to successful completion. Emailing your tutor at any stage during your programme to ask a query or submit a draft of your assessment supports you to achieve your personal best throughout your studies with Portobello.
This level of one to one support is a particular benefit to choosing Portobello as your Institute of choice to complete your studies.
Position: Course Coordinator Masters in Early Childhood Studies & Lead Lecturer BA Hons degree Early Childhood Studies
My early career started in Law, but after having my own children, I decided to leave this sector and move into early education and special needs. Having worked and managed my own Pre School for some years, I embarked on the road of Educational Psychology, and I work for several years in the Primary Education sector with children who needed that little bit more support. My recollections of this time bring back fond memories of a child from the Travelling community who had never been diagnosed but obviously was on the Autistic spectrum. His first visit to our school result in him arriving into the setting, clinging to his twin brother, terrified, crying and so distraught that he immediately detached himself to seek refuge under the teachers table, curled up in the foetal position. Being much more supple in those days, I crawled under the table and lay down beside this distraught child, speaking in soft tones and comforting until this tiny hand unravelled itself from where it had recoiled, and touched mine. Some hours later we both emerged from under the table and so our journey together began. It emerged some days later that this young child had never been out of the Traveller camp due to the stigma attached to disability among his family and community; and as a result he had no language at all and was fearful of everything as it was all knew. My most memorable moment was his first utterance of a word, and some four years later he was speaking and engaging with the other children in his class. So proud of this little lad, and all that he has achieved since this time. Some further special memories and experiences include – some years back while lecturing on a Degree for a University in NI. I had a student who suffered from anorexia, several times throughout the programme this student was hospitalised and nearly died, however engaging with this student upon each return, watching her struggle with her condition, while striving to succeed and the determination that she would walk across that stage with the others.. Amazing.. I cannot express how that made me feel the day she walked across and collected her certificate with the others. There are other experiences and students who will always stand out, students who continue to contact you after they have completed their degree to ask advice and students who will email you a draft of a Personal Statement to have a read of, as they apply for their Masters qualification, students sending you photos of their baby which they delivered days after submitting an assignment on time; or students who send a video of their wedding day after they graduate. These are the moments which stand out and make it all worth while. Knowing you have helped these young people become the person they strive to be.
Shortly after completing my degree, I was offered a role lecturing in Further and Higher education College in Northern Ireland, who partnered with Queens University and Stranmillis in delivering Degree and Masters level education. Throughout this time and as part of our professional development we continued to work 3 weeks every year in the early years sector, so that we kept abreast of the practical aspect of our profession. And as an International External Standards Verifier for numerous Awarding bodies across Northern Ireland and the UK, it was also possible to keep well informed on all changes in terms of educational requirements etc.
Some years later, my family uprooted and we moved to Galway in the West of Ireland, where I began working on a part time basis with NUIG, while also working for GRETB. After a short time, I took on a more permanent (temporary) role with the University of Limerick, and Mary Immaculate College, which gave me a lot of experience in terms of how the education system in Ireland worked in comparison to that of NI. Subsequently I was offered a role as an External Authenticator for FETAC and SOLAS, where I still practice today, under QQI and the different ETB’s in Ireland. I am a registered member of the BPS and have a small Psychology service, which in recent years I have extended to offer counselling and psychotherapy to younger members of society on a voluntary basis.
I have also worked in Higher education with UL on the PHD in Professional Psychology, and DCU on the Psychology Degree, and in Early Childhood Ireland for a few years. During this period, I was offered a position in Hibernia College in Dublin on their Masters in Education, (where I worked until recently on a part time basis); and a few months later I started working for Portobello, hard to believe this is almost 8 years ago now and like a home from home, the support and comradery that is shared within the college. It was throughout this role that I felt I had found my niche, working with adults who had come back to education bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, but needing the certification to go with that. I think this resonates with me most, having come a similar route myself, and after leaving law; embarking on my academic career with Queens University, subsequently completing BA Hons Degree, Masters and subsequently PhD level education, for which I was awarded the Doctoral Award in Postgrad Research.
Throughout my Career I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some fantastic and renowned Authors and Researchers in the field of Early education. Dr Barbara McConnell my supervisor at Masters level, and a good friend since that time; Dr Colette Gray, who I met as a lecturer and remains a good friend to date. Professor Jim Deegan, the most intellectual gentleman I have had the pleasure to chat with on numerous occasions, and whose most memorable saying is “go for it!” A sentiment, which has driven my own, research career for some years. David Whitebread, who I met while studying my PhD, and who has since then shared some insightful thinking’s about Vygotsky and play. Dr. Zsuzsa Millei , a friend and mentor and editor of my book, Childhood and Nation. John Siraj Blatchford, Prof Bob Stake, both helped me refine my research throughout the years; and Prof Judith Green, California who I met at a Conference many years ago, the most enlightening person I have ever had the pleasure to encounter, and at the ripe age of 79 was still deeply engrossed in research and teaching. She has become a very good friend, and mentor.
Marguerita’s Teaching Philosophy
As a lecturer it is important to make conscious decisions around the module content and pedagogy with the students experience in mind, as I believe our students possess knowledge skills, values and experiences which help them deal with their different employment opportunities. I believe part of my role is to help them understand through the engagement with this course, who they are and what they can contribute to the heterogeneity that they will encounter in their vocation to work with and educate young children. They are the advocates for the sector, ambassadors for early education in Ireland. And as such I think it is vital that we more than anything else help them develop skills like critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, analytical reasoning, reflexivity and communication skills, becoming leaders in their field, involved in research to further and benefit the sector in it’s entirety. I don’t believe it is my role to teach my students the practical aspects of early education, as it is they who bring that knowledge and experience with them; but rather it is my role to encourage them to apply the theoretical underpinnings to those practical skills.
As a philosophical stance on adult education, it is important to realise that understanding is not something that is transferrable from one person to another; rather understanding is constructed by each student, based on their prior knowledge and experiences; it is my philosophical stance that the role of the Lecturer is to nurture, challenge and extend that knowledge. As a lecturer it is vital to listen to the student’s voice, engage with them and support them, scaffolding the pathways to further learning. In order to achieve this it is important to encourage the students to engage and interact during tutorial sessions, as we all learn from each other, and in adult education the student is as vital to that learning experience as the lecturer. Discussion and debate are key, therefore I expect my students to respond, contribute and critique so that the understanding becomes deeply rooted.
As a lecturer it is vital to keep abreast of changes in the sector and up to date with up and coming research. I try to achieve this by engaging in research topics every 12/18 months if possible, and have had some of these contributions published to date. Attendance at conferences is a very beneficial means of networking, raising awareness of current debates and issues in the sector, which are vital to ensuring the learning experience for the student is relevant and reflective of their own experiences.
As a Reviewer for several journals, SAGE, Contemporary Issues, Global Childhood Studies and Early Childhood studies, I help to ensure that publications are peer reviewed and of the highest standard, and subscribing to these journals ensure that I always have access to suitable reading materials to supplement the course materials for my students.
Research Interests and contributions:
- Special Educational Needs
- ICT in Early Education
- Wellbeing in Early Education
- Curriculum Design and Leadership
- Conceptual Development
- Innovation and Diversities in Early Edcuation
- Outdoor environments
- Forest Schools
- Risky Play in Early Education
Research / Industry Participation
- SELB (2008) Autism Awareness Report
- SELB (2010) Autism Intervention Support
- Queens University Belfast (2010) Workshop Presentation: Research in the early years (Sole presenter)
- Mary Immaculate College (2013) Workshop Presentation: Observation in Research: complementary methods (Co-presenter)
- University of Limerick (2013) Workshop Presentation: Developmental Psychology; theory to practice (Sole Presenter)
- Magennis, M. (2013) Digital Natives and Cultural Tools, Paper presented at Diversities in Literacy, Maynooth: Ireland (Conference Paper)
- IRMSS – International Research Methods Conference (2014) MIC – Presented paper – June 2014.
- Magennis, M. (2014) “Developing Leadership for a sustainable future: Enhancing ICT in the Curriculum” (conference paper)
- OMEP International Conference (2014) UCC “Cross-border perspectives on digital technologies as a catalyst for creative learning and innovative teaching in early education”
- Magennis, M. (2015) “National Symbols and Practices in the Everyday of Irish Education”, in Millei, Z. & Imre, R. (2015)
- Magennis, M. (2015) Enhancing Literacy Concepts: Digital Natives and Cultural Tools.
- BORDERS V111 Conference on Cultural Studies, Oulu Finland, 3-4 December 2015, Book Launch – Virtual Presentation and Workshop.
- Magennis, M. (forthcoming) “outdoor environments and Risky Play – Early educational strategies”
Position: Early Years Lecturer
“When I returned to education in 2000 to study Montessori Teaching, I knew I had found my life’s passion. I am passionate about my job and I want to instil in others what has been given to me.”
I began working in early education in 1994, and to be honest, did not know what I was taking on, but the times of work fitted with my family! Little did I know that I would find my life’s passion. I was fascinated by these young people and the fact that the sector was unregulated and basically providers could do what they liked. I began to read on the subject and improve my practice and returned to education in 2000 to study the Montessori Method. Since then, I have not stopped learning, through study, through working with children and families, through my role as a manager/lead practitioner in rural, urban, affluent, and disadvantaged areas. My experiences provide me with vast industry insight as I have experienced vast changes within our sector, frameworks, legislative and other. In a setting, each year brings a different group dynamic, therefore it is essential to have the ability reflect upon and amend provision and practice to meet the needs of children, families, and staff. I hope that by bringing my practical experiences in the setting into my tutorials allows students to link theory and practice.
In 2004, I became a tutor at Portobello Institute on a part-time basis. Currently I work fulltime for the Institute supporting full-time QQI Level 6 students in Child Development, Early Childhood Curriculum, Social, Legal and Health Studies and Personal and Professional Development. I am part of a vital, vibrant team who support Level 7 Early Childhood Studies Degree students studying through a blended approach. I lead modules such as Children’s Rights in Today’s World, Enquiry Based Learning and Communicating in Multilingual Contexts.
Jacinta’s Teaching Philosophy
My approach is that all students have something to give and to learn, true learning is a two-way process, I love to see students discussing their life experiences to make sense of theory. Many of the students are experienced practitioners and their practical knowledge should be valued. Just as no two children learn the same, similar could be said of adults, people learn in different ways and therefore I try to use a variety of approaches to suit the needs of the group in question. I also understand the pressure of completing study with work, families, and other commitments, as I have been there, and can offer some practical tips.
My greatest achievements as a tutor are to see students who are returning to education with little confidence in themselves and their ability, blossom and grow both as students and practitioners.
Key valuable graduate attributes are, of course, knowledge required to be an early year’s practitioner and the ability to apply that knowledge in their setting. However, there are other equally vital tools, such as compassion, to be able to look at situations from various perspectives to gain understanding and allow for appropriate planning. The ability to reach, support and work with all children, families, and staff in the setting is fundamental to quality provision. Building respectful, reciprocal relationships is essential to providing quality experiences which benefit children’s learning and development. I hope to instil the ability to reflect critically, without criticizing, to examine attributes, bias, and areas for improvement and to plan accordingly.
- BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies
- Teacher providing July Provision, a home-based programme for children with complex needs.
- Assisted the set up a Homework Club, Mother and Toddler Group and Woman’s Group in a disadvantaged area through government funding. This group won a Millennium Award for their efforts, it was a proud day to receive this award in Dublin Castle with 2 others.
- HETAC Montessori Course Liaison
- Child Protection Course facilitator
How will I learn?
What is Blended Learning?
It is very suited to you if you are working full-time with limited spare time yet you want to achieve your degree qualification. During the induction workshop, you will be given your log-in details to the online portal, “Weblearn”. Here you will find course notes, reading lists, podcasts, articles of interest and assessment guidelines. The content is structured in an easy to “find and follow” week by week format. You will need basic computer skills such as searching the internet and typing a word document.
Each module commences with an induction seminar and you will meet your lead tutor during this seminar. You can upload your assessments and your tutor will give you feedback on whether you are on the right track before you submit the final version. Blended learning allows you to study at your time with support available throughout your learning journey.
There are 3 tutorials scheduled during the programme. These are generally run on a Saturday from 10am to 4pm and are designed to offer support to the learner.
The BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies is structured to maximise opportunities for flexible study, as students choose to complete the course by distance learning with webinars throughout the programme, supported workshops held each term and on-going tutor support available through the early childhood studies academic team situated full-time in Portobello institute.
A module tutor together with a programme manager is assigned to each module. At internals throughout the course there are face to face tutorials throughout the programme and students can access further tutor support by email and/or telephone. Webinars also support the learning experience, and provide further guidance throughout the programme, helping to establish and maintain relationships with tutors and peers. The development of academic writing, study and referencing skills is supported through workshops, tutor feedback and programme manager support. Materials are accessed through Portobello and LMU’s virtual learning platform. As this is one of the most researched and developed programmes available, an extensive range of visual materials and videos are available. Reflection is promoted by reflective exercises incorporated into the web-based materials.
All students are invited to discuss their progress with programme managers and module tutors. This can take place face to face, on the telephone or through e-mail.
How will I be assessed?
Assessment for this course is done on your dissertation project.
- Own or Manage a Setting – With a degree in early childcare studies, you can open, own, operate, manage, and work within any early years setting in Ireland where you will be eligible for the higher capitation grant under the ECCE scheme. You can undertake the role of; Room Leader, Facility Manager or Owner/Manager.
- Become a Special Needs Teacher – Having completed the degree in early childhood studies you could work in funded special needs early years facilities and become registered with the Teaching Council of Ireland.
- Become a Primary School Teacher – If you have your Degree and honours Irish you can apply for professional masters in primary school education which will allow you to work as a primary school teacher.
- Become a Childcare Tutor in Further Education – For those interested in tutoring, they need to combine their degree with a level 6 teaching qualification to become a tutor on Level 5 and 6 early years and special needs programmes.
- Work for a Government Agency – You can work for government agencies or early years support bodies such as county childcare committees etc. Roles with these organisations can vary from management and administration of services to monitoring of childcare and education settings? For instance Tusla are currently advertising for an Early Years Inspector. In order to apply for the role you must have a Level 8 degree and 5 years’ work experience in a childcare setting. This is an exciting role where you will use your knowledge and experience to improve the service offered in various childcare settings. It involves inspecting facilities, investigating issues, advising providers and writing reports. Constant liaison with other agencies and assisting in the development of childcare policy are also part of the role. Obviously, for this role, the experience gained in a childcare setting is essential, however, the knowledge of best practice in childcare provision and management derived from the degree is crucial to effectively undertake this role.
- Engage in Postgraduate Study and Research – Many students who have completed the degree programme long to learn more and undertake postgraduate education to masters and doctorate level to pursue their research interests.
Why should I continue to Level 8?
Many students ask the question “I already have a level 7 degree so why should I continue to level 8?” We asked Denise Flood, College Director and Head of our Early Years Department, that very question and this is what she told us.
“Firstly, this is the final step. You have completed the hard work at level 7 – this is one module to achieve your level 8 honours degree. It is a research project carrying 60 credits and you will have a supervisor of your choice from our team who will support you through the research process”
“The research project is directly related to your setting – for example you want to change the garden of your setting, you can use this as the topic of your research project. We will help you break this down into achievable snippets such as consulting key stakeholders. What questions do you need to ask to find out what they think the theme of the space should look like – the stakeholders would include staff, children, parents, other service users. Document the process, record the outcomes, reach a conclusion and this is your research project completed!”
“An honours degree opens up so many opportunities for employment and further study to Masters level – why would you not complete the project and achieve your level 8 honours degree?
Speak to an expert
Choosing a course that will lead you to your career of choice is a significant decision. Understanding the delivery modes, supports available, career opportunities and further study options are all key considerations when making your choice. Our course adviser team are experts in the courses Portobello offers, the employment prospects and the opportunities for progession to masters programmes for each of our courses – they will guide you through the detail and support you with any queries you may have.
It is important you make the right choice for you and choose the Institute and course that will best suit your needs.
How long are you working in Portobello?
I have been working for Portobello Institute for over 5 years now.
What do you enjoy about working in Portobello?
I love the interaction with students. Every day I get to meet different individuals and learners who are looking to change their lives and I get to be the person who advises them on the best programme to take. It is a fantastic feeling to be part of their journey. For many learners this is a huge decision and I get to be the person who supports them in making that decision. There is an incredible sense of pride when I see our learners graduate and achieve their education goals.
What inspires you about working in education?
I believe that education is impowering and it can often change people’s lives. It increases the learner’s confidence and it allows the learner to reach their full potential. Coming back to education hugely lifts the learner’s self esteem.
Have you a story that you recall that touched you/made you laugh/made you cry?
One particular lady struggled with dyslexia all her life. Her disability really affected her years in school, her career choices and when this learner approached Portobello Institute I worked with her to establish the best way forward, the right course for her was without a doubt in childcare. This lady registered on the course and she needed a lot of hand holding throughout her studies from both myself and the academic team. I recall that the day of her graduation, she received the “Student of Year” award. We were all thrilled and delighted for her! This learner has since gone on to open a very successful Montessori setting.
How do you feel when you have helped a student reach a decision on their course choice?
I am there to be the deciding factor for our learners. We support people in making the right choice of programme for them. We reassure them the whole way and we support them throughout. It is a very rewarding feeling to be part of this process.
How do I apply?
Entry to this course is by direct application to the college.
Exam Body Reg. Fee
Easy Payment Plan
Deposit of 40% upon acceptance of a place. Balance to be paid in 6 instalments due on the 10th of each month commencing the month after the course begins.
Includes one off instalment fee of €210.00. Payments scheduled every 1 month(s).
- €381.00 due on 10th March 2021.
- €381.00 due on 10th April 2021.
- €381.00 due on 10th May 2021.
- €381.00 due on 10th June 2021.
- €381.00 due on 10th July 2021.
- €381.00 due on 10th August 2021.