Sinead Lawson – Early Childhood Studies Degree After 24 Years Leads to Successful Career Change

BA (Ord) Early Childhood Studies

Early Years

Gaining the confidence to take on your Early Childhood Studies degree after over 20 years working in the sector can be daunting.

Portobello Institute makes it possible for you to continue working while you study, manage payments with an easy installment plan, and guide you with one-to-one tutor support.

Sinead Lawson graduated from Portobello Institute with her BA (Ord) Early Childhood Studies level 7 and BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies level 8 degree and now works for the Ombudsman for Children’s Office.

With 24 years of experience, Sinead completed her Level 7 Early Childhood Studies degree while she was managing a Montessori school.

II found it just so incredibly rewarding knowledge-wise.  

“When I started doing it I had been in the early year’s sector for 24 years so it was making those connections, those light bulbs switching on with things that I had been doing for years and years and then finally getting to the depth of the theory and knowledge of all those things I had been doing.

I found it so incredibly rewarding, so useful and such a great thing to do at the age and stage of my career that I was, I think I appreciated it so much more than if I had done it with no experience to make those connections, it was such a great time to do it,” she said. 

Sinead said she ‘shopped around’ for her degree but Portobello was the best fit for time management, flexibility, and one-to-one tutor support.

I really liked the structure of the assignments and the due dates, even down to things like being able to submit a draft and have that looked over because obviously when you go back to study after a substantial amount of time after being away from it – those first few assignments you were so nervous about your standard of writing and were you understanding the objectives around the assignments so I really liked the hands-on approach and the support.

“That’s why I decided to go with Portobello because it did feel very much like someone was there holding your hand all the way through which was really nice,” she said.

I was the class representative for my cohort, I worked a lot with Iryna (Fox, tutor) who I found excellent in her ability to step in and keep us all calm in those moments when things like Covid kicked in.

“I always found her really easy to communicate with and she was always really responsive

“I found everybody very professional and clear in what the expectations were during the course and the time and commitment that needed to be put in if you wanted to get the type of results you want to get.

It was great because while I was doing the level 7 I was working as the manager of a creche and I encouraged one of the staff members who worked with me to sign up for the level 7 in Portobello and she did.

“I think the most important thing for me is if you are thinking even the slightest bit about doing it – go and do it.

“It’s so satisfying and rewarding on so many levels in your personal life for that accomplishment of achieving a degree perhaps after a number of years of thinking about it it’s a great achievement and something to be so proud of especially when you are working at the same time as studying.

“You are making time out of your already busy schedule to make the commitment. Anyone who asks me I say do it, it’s a great achievement.

With the first assignment you hand it in, and you think maybe it wasn’t as great as it could have been but it’s so important to frame everything in the positive and take it as; ‘well what can I do better next time?’

“The feedback I found was always really good and really helpful that the tutors gave you something to focus on in the next assignment whether it’s the way you construct your sentences or the assignment structure itself.

“I would say to anyone who is worried about how they are going to compare to anybody else or lacking in confidence that we are all in the same boat together, we all feel that way on day one and then when we finish we realise how much we have grown and developed there is your reward. 

“There was so much that I got out of it, in regard to the theory behind so much of what we do in the early years working with children and what really benefitted me in the job that I’m doing now at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office was the great links throughout the course to Irish legislation in and around early years and children.

“When I went for my interview at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office so many of the questions were about legislation in Ireland regarding children.

“If you had asked me to go along to that interview before I had started doing my level 7 degree, I would have really struggled. 

“I don’t think ultimately, I would have gotten the job doing what I am doing now without it because every assignment we did we pretty much had to refer to Irish legislation and policies and that in itself was a huge benefit for me and I think it would be for anyone interested in going into public sector jobs like working with Pobal or working with Tusla.

“It is so valuable to tie all that policy and legislation in with the assignments because it’s just important to be aware,” she said.

If you are interested in studying any of our Early Years & Montessori courses, visit our department page here. You can book a consultation call with our expert advisor Jennifer Matteazzi here, email [email protected] or call 01 892 0031.

Sinead Lawson – Early Childhood Studies Degree After 24 Years Leads to Successful Career Change Sinead Lawson – Early Childhood Studies Degree After 24 Years Leads to Successful Career Change