Tara McCabe – From A Levels Uncertainty to PE Teaching with Portobello Institute

Alumni of Sports Science & PE


Before her parents found Portobello Institute online, Tara McCabe wasn’t sure she would be able to go on to third level at all.

“I went to a British curriculum school and did A-Levels, which is equivalent to Leaving Cert. I didn’t do so well in my A-Levels which then got me panicking I wouldn’t be able to get into any universities in the UK or Ireland,” she said.

Initially, Tara and her parents found a Post-Leaving Cert (PLC) that didn’t have the strict entry requirements that many sports science or equivalent courses do, with just an interview standing between her and pursuing her dream career she pivoted to Portobello Institute instead.

During her interview with Portobello Institute, she discovered that our application process is based on your own interest in the topic and your ability to meet the standard academic requirements to complete the course, there are no Leaving Cert points or minimum A-Level requirements.

“When the time came to go to my interview, I was interviewed by a sports tutor, Emma McLoughlin, and she told me to relax and just be myself.

“She then told me that there was a level 8 course which was a BSc Sports Science and Physical Education 3-year course (this is now a BA (Hons) in Physical Education or BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science) which suited me better than a PLC course, in which I accepted and I was accepted on to the course just like that. So all in all the application process was quite good for me as they were only seeing if I had the ambition and the interest to do the course in which I had,” she said.

Portobello Institute’s non-CAO application route took the stress out of Tara’s journey to third-level education.

Among the things Tara says she enjoyed about her time in Portobello was its city centre location and the friends she made while here, whom she is still in contact with today. One point of particular praise she holds for Portobello is our hardworking faculty.

“I couldn’t praise the lecturers more. They were the ones who helped me get through the three years and without them, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.

“I earned a 2:1 at the end of my degree which I never imagined I would achieve,” she said.

Tara would then go on to take our Graduate Diploma in Physical Education which has now set her on her path to becoming a fully qualified PE teacher.

“I am currently in my final year of the Professional Masters of Education (PME) course at the University of Limerick.

“I’ve just completed my 10-week school placement and I’ll be starting my final semester in which my thesis is due.

“Portobello Institute helped me get a place on the PME course, something I didn’t think would be possible.

“Portobello is a great college for students who have just finished their Leaving Cert and didn’t get the results they hoped for. Consider this college and I guarantee it will be the best decision of your life,” she said.

Portobello Institute offers pathways to becoming a qualified PE teacher. We offer a three-year level 8 BA (Hons) in Physical Education which is awarded by Liverpool John Moore’s University for those who are starting out on their journey.

Others who may already have a sports or teaching qualification may gain a Graduate Diploma in Physical Education to continue on the pathway to PE Teaching.

We also offer an MSc in Physical Education combined with the Postgraduate Certificate in Education International & QTS package. QTS is a UK teaching qualification, application for registration with the Teaching Council of Ireland can subsequently be made through the “qualified abroad route” and is reviewed by the council on a case-by-case basis.

Portobello Institute has a dynamic sports department with a range of top qualifications for the next step in your career.

If you are interested in any of our sports courses or have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert sports advisor Jason Lester, email [email protected] or call 01 892 0029. 

Tara McCabe – From A Levels Uncertainty to PE Teaching with Portobello Institute Tara McCabe – From A Levels Uncertainty to PE Teaching with Portobello Institute