Course Details

This approved QQI level 6 major award in Early Learning and Care qualification allows you to open your own setting or work in the capacity of a room leader, supervisor or manager in an early years setting.

QQI Level 6
Course Delivery Mode Start Date Duration
Early Learning & Care – QQI Level 6 Major Award
Delivery Mode
Blended Learning
Start Date
3rd October 2023
9 months


The Advanced Certificate in Early Learning and Care has been developed to meet the standards for Early Learning and Care (ELC) at NFQ levels 5 and 6. The programme is underpinned by the principles of First Five.

This programme further develops your knowledge and skills through the study of play, development and learning of the young child in historical and socio-cultural context and the implications of this in the ELC settings. A range of local and international perspectives are taken, including children’s rights, children’s health and well-being, pedagogical and curriculum approaches, diversity, and inclusion.
As part of your learning journey, you will explore a range of disciplines such as psychology, sociology and social policy, education, and health. The knowledge, skills and competencies you will learn, will prepare you for autonomous practice and will equip you to take responsibility for one of the rooms or areas within an ELC setting.

A key feature of this programme is the opportunity for you to choose from a number of elective modules. These include the following modules.

  •  Inclusive Education Practice,
  •  Montessori Education
  • Provision of School Age Childcare)

This choice allows you to tailor your qualification to your area of interest in accordance with your preferences and career development needs.

You will take supervised placement modules to meet the award criteria. A key feature of this programme is its emphasis on the development of professional as well as academic skills and knowledge which will enable you to pursue a career in the ELC sector and access additional formal education training.

This course is delivered through blended learning which means that you will also have the opportunity to complete a work experience placement in an early years setting to compliment your studies. Learners are required to complete a total of 150 hours of work experience. There is an easy payment plan designed to make this programme affordable. These factors, together with the one-to-one tutorial support, offer you a course that is accessible, affordable and achievable.

Why should I study this course?

This programme will qualify you to work in the Early Learning and Care sector and avail of the opportunities it opens to pursue careers in organisations/professions providing services for children and families.

The demand for Portobello Institute Early Childhood Care and Education programmes has been particularly strong, and the institute has accumulated over 40 years of experience in supporting learners who are combining study and work and providing flexible opportunities for learners to gain qualifications from level 5 up to level 9 on the NFQ.

Our programmes ensure that you will be supported and gain transferrable skills such as use of digital technology, oral and written communication, and presentation skills, which you can apply both in your professional career and in current and further learning.

Who will recognise my qualification?

This Certificate in Early Learning and Care meets the minimum requirements set down by legislation for those seeking to work with children in an early years setting. You will be qualified to work with children from 0 – 6 within the broader childcare settings.
The demand for qualified early years staff is driven by increased regulation and professionalization of the ELC sector. This trend aligns with the policy initiatives:
· Commitment to development of the workforce in the ELC sector under First Five- The Whole-of- Government Strategy for Babies and Young Children  Nurturing Skills: The Workforce Plan for Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC)
· Roll-out of the Access and Inclusion Model for the ELC sector
· Launch of a major reform for funding of ELC alongside the new Workforce Plan for the sector with proposed establishment of a career framework.

What will I study during this Advanced Certificate in Early Learning & Care – QQI Level 6 Major Award course?

This programme aims to develop your knowledge, skills, and competence suitable to autonomous professional practice subject to supervision as a member Early Learning and Care (ELC) community of practice to promote and support the physical and mental health, learning, development, and care needs of children across the range of ELC settings.

Upon completion, you will –

  • Develop professional knowledge, skills, and competencies to effectively organise and lead learning environments.
  • Foster a sense of professional identity and develop a framework of personal and professional values for working with children and families.
  • Develop sociological thinking to form effective partnerships with children’s families and communities and appreciate their role in children’s development, and well-being learning.
  • Inspire becoming an advocate for children and families and promote anti-discriminatory practice.
  • Promote continuous professional development through emphasising the impact of qualifications and CPD on provision of high-quality experiences for children.
  • Encourage commitment to development of the ELC sector through participation in the community of practice and modelling of good practice.
  • Provide pathways to additional formal education and training in the disciplines relevant to provision of services for children and families.


This programme includes three elective modules and you may choose to tailor your qualification by choosing from the following electives;

  • Inclusive Education Practice
  • Montessori Pedagogy
  • After-school Care
  • Perspectives on Growth and Development

    The module builds on the learning gained from module Observing and Documenting Children’s Learning and Development (at level 5) and emphasises the integrated nature of children’s learning and development and considers application of a range of developmental perspectives to inform understanding.

    The module aims to enable learners to:

    • Enhance their knowledge about the main theoretical perspectives that explain how children grow, learn, and develop
    • Recognise integrated nature of children’s learning
    • Reflect on influences and experiences in the setting which can impact on children’s personal, emotional, social, cognitive, linguistic, and physical development and consider how these can be connected to theoretical perspectives
    • Foster skills and competencies to use tools of observation and consultation and develop strategies supporting holistic development of children
    • Engage in peer learning and further develop team working skills
  • Pedagogy, Curriculum and Assessment for Early Years

    The module consolidates knowledge, skills and competencies developed in Understanding Play as a Context for Learning module (L5). It examines the concepts of pedagogy, curriculum and explores how the learning theories, ideas and methods of early childhood education pioneers can be used to develop and enhance pedagogical practice in an ELC setting and how to integrate the policy documents into practice through planning and practical evaluation.

    The module will enable learners to:

    • Develop awareness about the concepts of pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment
    • Explore their professional roots through the study of ideas of pioneers of early childhood education
    • Understand how application of learning theories and major pedagogical approaches shapes practice in the early years
    • Develop understanding of the different areas of the early learning curricula
    • Develop knowledge of general and specialised teaching techniques in ELC
    • Understand the factors which influence curriculum planning and outline processes involved in planning and documentation
    • Understand how pedagogical principles shape our values and ideas about children as learners
  • Leadership, Supervision and Quality in Early Learning and Care

    The module explores distinctive features of leadership in the ELC sector and examines the relationship between leadership and quality of practice and provision. The role of the supervisor is scrutinised, and knowledge is developed to enable learners to comply with regulatory and legislative requirements.

    The module will enable learners to:

    • Develop awareness about the concept of organisational culture and the role of leadership in promoting professionalism and quality I of practice in ELC sector
    • Develop understanding of qualities, skills, and competencies of a supervisor
    • Develop awareness of the major theories of leadership and management and understand complexities of leading and managing teams
    • Develop knowledge about the legislative and regulatory requirements related to leading and managing practice in ELC
    • Develop knowledge skills and competencies, necessary to comply with the reporting and inspection regimes
    • Understand the process of recruitment and development of workforce in the ELC sector
  • The Child, Family, Community and Society

    The module explores childhood through the sociological lens and considers historical, cultural, philosophical perspectives on children and childhood while examining theoretical underpinnings of the process of socialisation and focusing on the major principles shaping development of social policy in relation to children and family.

    The module will enable learners to:

    • Explore some contemporary debates in relation to childhood historical, cultural, economic contexts
    • Develop awareness about application of sociological theories to practice
    • Understand how inequality impacts child’s and family’s life prospects
    • Distinguish between primary and secondary socialisation
    • Explore the modern family structure
    • Appreciate the role of the community, ELC settings, schools in the process of socialisation
    • Study the principles shaping development of social policy in Ireland
    • Become familiar with major policy and organisations promoting rights of the child
  • Advanced Professional Practice in Early Learning and Care

    The module focuses on further development of analytical and reflective skills and their application in a work-based context with a particular emphasis on building development potential and capabilities for supervision in an ELC setting. The learners will be equipped with tools for reflecting on their professional identity and consider how their personal and professional values reflect on their work with stakeholders.

    The module will require learners to undertake a placement of 150 hours with two different age groups 0-3 and 3-6.  Placement can be taken either in block or on a weekly basis to accommodate learners who are combining work and study.

    The module aims to enable learners to:

    • Further develop critical reflection skills
    • Explore how theoretical perspectives and learning across modules underpin their personal and professional values and behaviours
    • Apply learning across module in a work-based context
    • Evaluate their capabilities and developmental potential as a supervisor
    • Understand how organisational culture and values align with principles of good practice and personal value framework
    • Set professional goals and plan for personal and professional development
    • Develop digital skills to showcase their practice and promote sharing of information
  • Inclusive Care and Education

    This optional module considers inclusion from theoretical and practical perspectives exploring the principles of best practice while considering historical, and legal background of inclusion. The learners are provided with knowledge and tools enabling them to meet children’s diverse needs in ELC and primary school settings with particular emphasis on the knowledge and skillset of those who want to pursue various roles as inclusive practitioners.

    The module will enable learners to:

    • Further awareness about the areas of inequality and categories of additional needs
    • Explore historical, legal, and theoretical background for provision of inclusive care and education in Irish settings
    • Reflect on their values and attitudes and develop a personal value framework to act as an agent of change and lead inclusive practice
    • Develop knowledge, skills, and competence to evaluate and plan practice and implement inclusive early curricula
  • Montessori Education in Early Years Practice

    This optional module is designed for learners who have an interest in the Montessori education and provides them with knowledge and skills to use the Montessori method in working with young children to meet their diverse learning and developmental needs. It provides an overview of the Montessori philosophy and theoretical underpinnings while making connections to the principles endorsed in early learning and practice frameworks used in Ireland. The focus is on developing practical skills of using the Montessori method and materials in ELC environments.

    The module will enable learners to:

    • Understand key principles of the Montessori method in relation to child development, teaching and learning as a process
    • Develop knowledge and skills to organise an early learning environment according to the Montessori principle of the prepared environment
    • Gain knowledge about benefits of the use of Montessori materials to promote children’s development across all domains and promote learning across all areas of the early curriculum
    • Plan and implement Montessori activities
    • Use Montessori principles to support children’s diverse needs, including children with additional needs
    • Understand the relationship between the principles endorsed in the Montessori method and those endorsed in the Irish early learning and practice frameworks
  • Provision of School Age Childcare

    This optional module explores aspects of provision of school age childcare and focuses on development of knowledge skills and competencies of learners who have interest in providing, managing, and leading school age childcare services.

    The module will enable learners to:

    • Understand how children grow and develop in middle childhood
    • Develop a theoretical perspective on working with children of primary school age
    • Explore the concept of quality in relation to provision of school age childcare services
    • Promote participatory rights of children in the settings
    • Plan and implement effective and appropriate environments and curricula
    • Understand the legislative and regulatory regimes and relevant governance processes to lead and manage school age childcare service

Who will I learn from?

Programme Manager

Olivia Hamill

“Working as a PM for EY & SNA means working in an ever-changing industry, as investment in the childcare industry in Ireland has been to the forefront in recent years.  This investment is not unlike the investment made by students- as they invest in their future through their educational journey. Being involved in their journey is fulfilling as you watch them flourish over time and support them in achieving their goals”


While my initial third level education was in Business Management my career path took a turn when I became involved in fostering. The more research (for homelife benefits) I conducted in the areas of children with additional needs, child development, play activities etc., I realised that this was an area I had a keen interest in. From here I went onto firstly study a Level 5 in ECCE, to have the basis for further study within the area. Then I completed a H-DIP in ECEC which led me onto a Level 9 MA in Child, Youth and Family studies.  I studied part time while working full time, and this has helped me immensely in understanding students journey on similar paths- it can be a  struggle trying to balance working, reaching assignment deadlines, attending classes, along with daily home (and social!) life, but once you achieve your end goal it is worth it. Having also worked in various rooms in childcare settings, this added to my experience, skills, knowledge, and abilities. Working in the sector assisted me greatly (before I took up the role as Programme Manager) while I was tutoring with Portobello as I was able to impart knowledge and experience to students.

Why did you choose to work in education?

Having gone back to study myself many years after my initial education, my own experience contributes to understanding individual students needs and abilities. Everybody learns differently and it is beneficial in the educational industry to have an understanding that some people may be visual learners, while others may be kinaesthetic or auditory learners while some may learn through reading and writing. Match this understanding with various modes of course delivery, tutors who are passionate about their subject areas, are inclusive to all types of learners and this can only lead to a successful outcome for students.

Collaborating with and listening to students is also an important aspect within the education industry, we all have knowledge to offer and learn from each other, having had this experience myself while studying, this was always something I encouraged while tutoring. Facilitating students to share knowledge and experience while motivating and supporting them through their learning journey is all part of the role as an educator. These roles also become part of your role as a PM, you want to see everyone achieving their goal and you are there to help, guide, advise, support, motivate and encourage them throughout their time spent with the college.

Your experience as a Programme Manager.

Before a student embarks on their learning journey, Portobello takes the time to explore which mode of delivery suits an individual’s needs, abilities, and time available to study. While working as a PM with Portobello I have come across many inspirational students, some who have not studied in many years, some who have had learning difficulties, others may be changing industry entirely, while some just simply want more knowledge as a parent to help them in understanding their children’s needs. As a PM contributing to all student’s journey through listening, supporting, motivating, and encouraging them throughout their education is an important aspect and it is inspirational to see students achieving their goal.

Why Portobello?

Working with Portobello allows you to get to know students, which allows students to feel valued and everyone in the Institute is committed to supporting students on their learning journey. Portobello offers flexibility in course delivery, this is something which can be a deciding factor on choosing a course, students consider what fits their lifestyle and free time available to study. By offering blended, part time, full time, online or distance courses, this gives Portobello the ability to offer courses to suit a range of students needs.


  • MA in Child, Youth & Family Studies
  • H-Dip in Early Childhood Education & Care
  • QQI Level 5 in Early Childhood Care & Education
  • BBS Honours Degree in Business Management





Limin Bai

Position: SNA & Early Years Lecturer

Limin Bai’s Story

I grew up in China, was educated in Ireland and graduated from Portobello Institute. Without Portobello tutors’ care and love, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Portobello helped me succeed in my career and the tutors ignited the passion I have for Special Needs Assisting.

I am an ASD teacher during the day and a lecturer in the evening. My on-the-job experience helps to support my teaching and my students love to hear all the stories and interactions I tell them as they are real-life scenarios that SNAs will face in the workplace.  I love sharing my own experiences and getting feedback from my students about their experiences.

I write children’s books for Chinese children, it is very fun but equally so interesting to understand why children act the way they do. I write my own blog, and I have over 800 followers all of whom are parents and I receive excellent feedback from this. I help parents understand what is appropriate education and behaviour for their children.

Limin’s Teaching Philosophy 

Students do not only need theories, they need support and guidance and they need to feel listened to. I instil confidence in my students always encouraging them not to give up and I give extra assistance if and when required.

I have students ranging from 18 to 65, they are all special to me, it doesn’t matter where they have worked before, or what experience they have I will give them the skills and tools required to complete the course and gain a job in the sector. I am creative in my teaching methods and this helps me to motivate my students to succeed and to keep them engaged in my classes.

What Limin’s Students Say

“We all had to adapt to a new way of communicating and learning.  It is my first time doing a course like this let alone online and it has been a great informative experience which I have to say is down to Limin.  Her classes were engaging, informative and enjoyable.  She is a person who is gifted in many ways, one of which is teaching, be it to a child or an adult. I would have no hesitation in attending her of your future classes or recommending her and the Portobello Institute. Any child in her presence is bound to feel nurtured that is a gift in itself.”   – Regina Ainsworth (SNA 5 student)

Maeve Nolan

Position: Personal Development Advisor & Senior Early Years Lecturer

About Maeve Nolan

Moving to Germany after I completed my degree at The University of Limerick was exciting, but certainly very challenging as I was working in a truly multicultural/ educational environment.  At this time, I was studying in Berlin for my Masters and also working to support myself and doing both through German. Either activity would have been a fulltime role, but doing both certainly improved my time management and prioritisation skills. I have seen the benefit of these key skills throughout my career. I remained in Germany for 10 years and living in such a dynamic multicultural environment benefitted me in so many ways from education to social understanding and self-awareness. My interest in the area of education drove me to open, develop and run my own child care facility for 10 years before moving in to the current phase of my career supporting the education and development of educators.

Maeve’s Teaching Philosophy 

The part of my tutoring role that I find most rewarding is watching the students succeed both in the courses which I deliver, and onwards into their careers. I often receive a note of acknowledgment from a past student, who has just landed the job they trained for, or opened their own facility. I am always delighted with this kind of feedback, which shows me the value in what I do, and how I have in a small way enabled them to fulfil their ambitions. For me education is so much more than an exchange of knowledge, through involvement and participation, it enables a passion for true learning.


  • BA Montessori Education
  • MA International Politics (Through German / Diplom Politologin)
  • BA European Studies

Research / Industry Participation

  • St. Nicholas Montessori College, Dublin
  • The Otto Suhr Institute, Free University (FU) Berlin, Germany
  • University of Limerick (UL)

Modules Taught by Maeve

  • Leading Practice with children, families and professionals – BA (Ord) in Early Childhood Studies

Quality of early year’s settings is characterized by strong leadership. In Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings children learn, grow and thrive when those settings are characterized by high-quality interactions and relationships. Leadership is one of the single most important drivers of organisational performance, quality improvement and innovation. This suggests that effective leadership is important and necessary in ECEC settings. While the evidence about ECEC leadership is still limited, there is a growing interest in gaining a better understanding about what ECEC leadership looks like across diverse settings and contexts, and how ECEC leadership can positively impact quality.

  • Approaches to Pedagogy & Curriculum in the Early Years – BA (Ord) in Early Childhood Studies

This module gives students an insight to Curriculum and Pedagogy within the Early Years Setting. Pedagogy and Curriculum are often spoken of as one, however they are two separate entities, Pedagogy is how we teach whereas curriculum is what we teach. In the early years setting in Ireland, we see the children as ‘active agents’ in their own learning and a child-led approach is taken. Practitioners are becoming highly educated and are more open-minded to different pedagogies than they would have had historically.

Various curriculum models and perspectives in childhood education such as: Aistear, Reggio Emilia, EYFS, Forest Schools, Te Whariki, Steiner and Montessori are introduced. Pioneers/ theorists, such as Froebel, Steiner, Montessori, Margaret Mc Millan, Malaguzzi. Froebel, Piaget, Vygotsky, are considered & how they have influenced these models and perspectives. The objective here is to assist students (practitioners) to draw on their ideas when developing the framework within their settings, and incorporate such into their curriculum both indoors and outdoors.

  • Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) – BA (Ord) in Early Childhood Studies

Enquiry based learning is particularly useful within early childhood education as it allows students of early childhood education to find information through inquiring and solving problems through constructive, critical thinking and also through reflection. Inquiry-based learning emphasizes the child’s role in the learning process. Rather than the teacher telling children what they need to know, children are encouraged to explore the material, ask questions, and share ideas. It helps children to develop their questioning, research and communication skills, collaborate outside the classroom, solve problems, create solutions, and tackle real-life questions and issues. As enquiry based learning continues, educators and children will become competent in building their own knowledge and how they understand the world through seeking and gaining information, developing their cognitive skills as the information is gained.


Natasha Murphy

Position: Early Years lecturer

“Early years education lays the foundation for a child’s life-long learning journey.”

About Natasha 

My name is Natasha Murphy, I am a manager in an inner-city, diverse Montessori School with 13 nationalities and I am an Early Years Tutor. This year brought a whole new level of teaching, as everything was moved online – online lectures and also online Live Circle times to stay connected with students, children and families.

I come from a family of early years practitioners, Montessori teachers and secondary school teachers, so I have always had a passion for working with children.

As I was growing up, I realised the importance of early childhood care and education, it is the first insight into learning for a child and that is how I decided to become an early years practitioner. I want to be part of each child’s early learning journey and support them to grow and learn in a fun and meaningful way.

While studying, I gained an interest in transitions. I implemented home visits prior to a child starting in my setting. I arranged an hour-long home visit with each child and their family. This helped me to build a respectful and reciprocal relationship with the child and family, which eased the settling-in process.

I was invited to travel to Sweden to talk about transitions with Early Childhood Ireland in March 2020, but due to COVID-19, it was cancelled. I have spent a summer in Spain teaching children aged 4-15 years old, and I travelled to Pune in India with Portobello Institute to volunteer in a number of orphanages and outreach community centres.

Working as an early years practitioner has allowed me to link theory to practice when giving a lecture. This has been very beneficial to students as they can relate and begin to see how their learning can be linked to their own settings too. As I completed my own studies through blended learning, I can understand how students feel trying to balance, work, home and study life.

Natasha’s Teaching Philosophy

My main goal when delivering a lecture is to share my passion and knowledge of early years with students so they can mirror this and gain a willingness to learn and understand the course modules.

While teaching, I always use real-life examples from my own experiences to support the theory, this creates an opportunity for students to become active in their learning and share their own experiences, thoughts, and idea or simply, ask a question.

A lecture for me is best taught through an interactive approach. I like to hear the students’ voices. This builds a collaborative approach within the class.

I present all information relating to the module by using the spoken and written word, PowerPoint with visual aids to try and accommodate all types of learners. I tutor the Level 6 QQI Early Childhood Care and Education Course and the Special Needs Assisting courses at Level 5 and Level 6.

Graduate attributes I hope to instil in my students are to embrace the learning and find ways to implement this newfound knowledge into their career/early years’ setting, team work, good communication skills, confidence and to have the ability to work independently and in a group.


  • BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies
  • MA in Early Childhood Studies

Modules Taught by Natasha 

  • Child Development – Early Childhood Care and Education

Students gain knowledge and understanding of child development theories and learn to apply them in a practical way. Skills of observation, evaluation and reflection are explored and the importance of using information as a basis for planning curricular activities suitable to the child’s interests, needs and level of development.

  • Early Childhood Curriculum – Early Childhood Care and Education

Students get the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations as they learn to plan suitable, interesting, fun and stimulating curricula. They gain an understanding that curriculum is more than just planning. Knowledge of Aistear the early years curriculum framework and Síolta, the quality framework for early childhood, alongside current theories of the curriculum is gained

  • Social Legal and Health – Early Childhood Care and Education

The students will study the historical timeline and social policy which has led to early years education what it is today.

Children First 2015 put child protection on a legislative footing therefore all practitioners must have a knowledge of how to protect and safeguard children in their setting, through policy, practice and reporting.

Equality is vital within our diverse society, however, it does not mean treating everyone the same! The student will gain knowledge of the law, guidance, policies, provision and practice which address equality and diversity in settings.

  • Personal and Professional Development – Early Childhood Care and Education

This module allows the student to assess their personal and professional strengths and areas for development and plan accordingly. This allows the student to become self-aware, to be more motivated, with the ability to manage their time and procrastinate less. This in turn relieves stress.

Students also learn how to arrange, lead and manage meetings e.g. writing an agenda, meeting etiquette, recording minutes and supporting and following through on decision-making.

The students gain the skills and knowledge to complete a presentation, from topic choice to rationale to presentation with visual aids to self-evaluation. This module provides the student will a tool for planning and improvement personally and professionally.

How will I learn?

Delivery Mode

Many students are seeking a combination of being able to study at a time that suits them but with the support of a tutor and the learning from peers included. Blended learning suits this student perfectly as it is a combination of contact tuition and distance learning. Everything needed to complete the course is available on a web-based learning platform. At the commencement of each module within a course, there will be a tutorial workshop held. This allows students the opportunity to meet their tutors in person and their other classmates. A comprehensive overview of the content of the module, the learning outcomes and assessment requirements are covered during this workshop. A demonstration on how to use the web-based learning platform is given during the induction workshop. The course work is usually given on a week-to-week basis to support you to stay on track. Assessments are uploaded online, and in many cases, a draft of your assessment can be submitted for feedback by your tutor before you submit the final version. Blended Learning for many is the best of both worlds, it gives you the independence and freedom to study at a time suited to you whilst also offering you guidance from expert tutors and the support of a peer to peer network from your fellow classmates.

Course Structure

Portobello Institute’s ELC level 6 course is delivered over 1 academic year. Course content is delivered online with supported workshops held on 5 Saturdays over the course of the programme.
Course materials are structured to be accessed on a week by week basis and are available to download from our eLearning platform as you progress through the course. Assignments are all designed for completion at home and once completed, you will upload these to the eLearning platform. Feedback and results are posted here for you to access too.
This programme includes elective modules and you may choose to tailor your qualification by choosing from the following electives;

  • Inclusive Education Practice
  • Montessori Pedagogy
  • After-school Care

The Academic Calendar

This course will commence 3rd October ’23 until 3rd July ’24.

There will be an induction session held on Tuesday, 3rd October ’23 from 6.30 – 8.30pm where you will be introduced to your lead tutor who will prepare you to undertake this programme.

You have a choice to attend this onsite and meet your tutors and fellow students in-person or to log-in and attend the session on line.

Real Life Learning Opportunities

Work Experience

As part of this course, you will complete a work experience module which gives you the opportunity to put into practice the exercises and skills you will have learned during the programme. Learners are required to complete a total of 150 hours of work experience.

You will have the opportunity by using these skills to stimulate, develop and guide the children under your direction to develop to their full potential. We aim to ensure you have the opportunity to gain experience in a setting that is aligned with your career ambitions. Our tutors and programme management team will help you secure a suitable work placement during your studies and this placement can be in your locality to reduce travel and time spent in Dublin. If you are already working in a setting during your studies, you may use this work as your work experience.

How will I be assessed?

A variety of assessment methods are used to support students with different learning styles. We encourage you to reflect on your knowledge gain with several assignments designed to explore your learning journey. All these assessment methods are seeking to support you to combine theory with scenario-based learning and how to practically implement these methods into your everyday practice.


Course Delivery Mode
Early Learning & Care – QQI Level 6 Major Award
Delivery Mode
Blended Learning
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Career prospects

Completing Stage 2 (QQI level 6 major award) will qualify you to work as a room leader in an ELC settings, as an Early Years Practitioner, as an AIM support worker, and you can be employed as Special Needs Assistant in a School.

The optional modules provide opportunities for you to focus on your specific interests and career plans. Choose from the following electives;

  • Inclusive Education Practice
  • Montessori Pedagogy
  • After-school Care

Further Study Opportunities

Learners can gain advanced entry to Year 2 of BA Ordinary in Early Childhood Care and Education and BA Ordinary in Inclusive Education Practice delivered by Portobello Institute and the University of Essex , which provide opportunities to progress up to NFQ level 9 and to programmes delivered by other providers in Ireland. Graduate qualifications lead to a range of careers related to provision of service for children and families.

Related Courses

Blended Learning

BA (Ord) Early Childhood Care & Education

This is a Level 7 BA (Ord) Early Childhood Care & Education degree. The blended learning option enables students to work full-time and complete this degree. Upon completion of this Level 7 degree, you will be eligible to gain the higher capitation grant from DCEDIY for your role in an early years setting

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 possible progression routes to Masters programmes – 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.

Your Consultant

Jennifer Matteazzi

About Jenny

My name is Jennifer Matteazzi and I am the Enrolment Team Leader.  An investment in knowledge pays the best interest and I am part of the team who helps learners achieve their education goals.


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.

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How do I apply?

Entry criteria for this programme are detailed below;

Stage 2

  • Certificate in Early Learning and Care – NFQ level 5 and TUSLA Children First eLearning Programme certificate
  • Major Award in Early Childhood Care and Education – QQI level 5 and TUSLA Children First eLearning Programme certificate
  • International awards in disciplines related to Early Learning and Care at NFQ level 5 and TUSLA Children First eLearning Programme certificate
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate evidence of achievement of B2 standard for writing, reading, listening, and speaking at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

Additionally, applicants must:

  • Be in a position to undertake supervised placement of 150 hrs per stage
  • Be in a position to obtain Garda vetting

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for Entry: – process and criteria:
Where you do not have a Leaving Certificate or equivalent, you can be accepted on the basis of an interview and a short piece of writing. You must demonstrate:

  • desire to work in the ELC sector
  • autonomy and responsibility
  • adequate communications skills
  • ability to take responsibility for their own learning

Additionally, applicants must:

  • be in a position to undertake supervised placement of 150 hrs per stage
  • be in a position to obtain Garda vetting

Fees & Payment Options


Course Price

Year 1 base fee


Additional Fees

Protection for Learner Insurance


Overall Course Price

Total amount due


Easy Payment Plan

Payment Option 1

30% deposit payment (€432.90), followed by 10 scheduled payments on the first of each month, commencing the 1st of the month after the start date of the course. Includes one off instalment fee of €195.

  • €101.01 due in month 1
  • €101.01 due in month 2
  • €101.01 due in month 3
  • €101.01 due in month 4
  • €101.01 due in month 5
  • €101.01 due in month 6
  • €101.01 due in month 7
  • €101.01 due in month 8
  • €101.01 due in month 9
  • €101.01 due in month 10

Available Courses

Course Delivery Mode Start Date Duration Fees Per Year
Early Learning & Care – QQI Level 6 Major Award
Delivery Mode
Blended Learning
Start Date
3rd October 2023
9 months
Fees Per Year


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