Rebecca O’Regan – Returning to Education After a Decade and Going Further Than She Ever Thought

Alumni of BA (Hons) In Early Childhood Studies

Early Years & Montessori

With a background in Montessori Teaching, a qualification she gained at Portobello Institute over a decade ago, Rebecca O’Regan took the leap to come back to education to gain her early childhood studies honours degree at Portobello Institute.

With one-to-one tutor support, recognition of her prior learning and our blended learning approach making education accessible online at all times, her transition back to education was not onl a success but has launched her onto her level 7, level 8 and now level 9 studies.

“I had previously done the Montessori Teaching diploma with Portobello about 10 or 12 years ago. I had an experience of Portobello through doing that course and one of the reasons I went back is because I loved doing the Montessori teaching diploma,” she said.

Another reason for Rebecca’s return to Portobello was that, since her last experience with Portobello, she had fallen out of early childhood education into a different area of work and was aiming to return to work in that space.

As it is for many mature learners, it was a challenge for Rebecca to return to education after a significant break away from it, but in 2018, she went for it and found the support she needed in the tutors at Portobello.

“Portobello supported me. I was able to do my assignments retrospectively. Because I had worked for so long in the area, I was able to do the assignments based on my existing knowledge of childcare. Portobello was the only one that supported that, which was absolutely brilliant for me.

“I didn’t want to go and start a degree doing something completely different, it was also still an area I wanted to go back to and Portobello supported that.

“I rang Marguerita (Magennis) at the time. I told her about my experience up to that point. She said she would support me. Certain assignments needed experience and most people were doing those assignments based on where they were working. I was able to mine retrospectively. It was a win-win for me,” she said.

It was a wholly positive experience for Rebecca who enjoyed the course content just as much as the support she received from the college.

“I loved it. The mix of the modules was really nice. They all sounded really interesting, and they all lived up to expectations.

“The online experience was great as well. I wouldn’t be the most tech-savvy person but still, when I got going on it, it was very straightforward. All the material was up there. It was very easy to upload and submit assignments. It was supportive. It was easy to use. It was foolproof,” she said.

Since leaving Portobello in 2020 with her BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies degree, Rebecca has applied to the teaching council and begun a full-time teaching role. She is now teaching in the Bray branch of Youthreach. Although she now works with a different age group, she says that a lot of what she studied at Portobello applies to her current role.

“Through having the level 8, I was able to apply to the teaching council. I applied to them and got my number. It has its conditions but, in the meantime, it allowed me to apply for teaching jobs.

“I applied for short cover jobs in Youthreach. I got two of them and I was able to build up my Youthreach teaching experience. I got a permanent teaching post in November. I’m full-time in Bray Youthreach now.

“Even though it’s a whole different age group, you’re still covering things like inequalities, pedagogy, PSED, they all can still link in, even if it is a different age group. Those are things I learned from Portobello. They’re transferrable and work really well. It stood to me in interviews and everything else,” she said.

Following her positive experience gaining her BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies at Portobello Institute, Rebecca was inspired to push herself even further.

“Through Portobello also, I was accepted on to a Level 9 postgrad in Trauma Studies.

“I was also accepted to do a postgrad in teaching in further ed. I’ve deferred that for the time being.

“If I hadn’t have done the level 8 with Portobello, I’d never have been accepted on the postgrad courses. Another bonus,” she said.

Rebecca looks back on her time in Portobello very fondly and her message is clear for anyone who is considering studying at the college.

“Go for it.

“It was something I always thought I wouldn’t be able for. I didn’t think I’d be able for the Level 8. I went and did the Level 7 first. It’s very doable. It’s hard work, especially if you’re working full time. But you get support. The tutors are behind you. We had a lovely peer group. The students are supportive of each other and help each other out.

“You can face some adversity while you’re doing it, but the support is there. You can get in touch with the tutors. The modules are interesting. The assignments are hard but doable. You’ll get there.

“I took on the Level 7 to see how I’d get on. I never thought I’d be able to study again at that level. You can see the grades get better as you go on. I went and did the Level 8 then. It was scary at the start, but it all panned out. I’m delighted I was able to achieve it,” she said.

If you are interested in any of our early years qualifications you can visit our department page here.

Rebecca O’Regan – Returning to Education After a Decade and Going Further Than She Ever Thought Rebecca O’Regan – Returning to Education After a Decade and Going Further Than She Ever Thought