29 July, 2021 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

Professionalisation of the Early Years Sector: ‘Why Would You Need a Master’s to Work With Children?’

Professionalisation of the Early Years Sector: ‘Why Would You Need a Master’s to Work With Children?’

The professionalisation of the early years sector in Ireland is well and truly under way.  

The Annual Early Years Sector Profile Report 2019/2020 by DCEDIY and Pobal has found that 27% of staff working directly with children now hold a NFQ Level 7 qualification or higher.  

Practitioners may be discouraged by peers who say, ‘what would you need a master’s for to work with children every day?’ or ‘that’s just if you want to be a lecturer’ but at Portobello Institute we have been providing early years education for 40 years and know that there is so much more to a master’s degree than that. 

But don’t just take it from us. We asked our current master’s students why they are studying to this level.

Some are setting owners who want their knowledge to be as in-depth as possible to contribute towards the quality of their service and inspire their staff to gain higher qualifications. 

“I have always been passionate about early childhood because and I would love to have my master’s and maybe upskill further than that again, it’s a passion I’ve always had. As a manager to encourage and support our employees and room leaders into further education and training. If the manager isn’t doing it, it’s very hard to ask our employees to do it. The quality of the service you provide for the children as well the higher qualified the staff are the better quality of the service,” said Rosie Hegarty. 

Others work in or own a setting and want to advance to tutoring adults on the side. 

“It’s all for my own knowledge and then there are other options to teach people along with what I’m doing, that’s what I’d be thinking of now and that would never really have come into my zone only for the whole idea of the masters opening up opportunities,” said Claragh McCabe. 

Some of our students are doing it for their futures, they are young now, and managing a setting but they know this is the way the sector is moving and in 20 years they want to be able to lead the decision making in future.  

“I wanted to get into tutoring because when you work with children you know that it’s going to be a long-term job, but you also have to think of the fact that your back is not going to be able for it forever. It’s nice to have a different option for when you are that little bit older that you have something else to fall back on,” said Natasha Murphy. 

Others want to open new career and opportunities to go into the inspectorate, policy and decision making.  

“I would recommend it if you wanted to further your own education and knowledge, if you want to go and teach or lecture. I would recommend it if you wanted to get into government services or go down that road,” said Jackie Durkan. 

Just like every other profession, having a master's degree puts you a cut above the rest. With so many changes afoot in the early years sector, decision makers holding Level 9 qualifications will be needed to provide research and support decision making.  

“I wanted something that did not just repeat my existing learning but built on that and recognised I am a professional within the early years sector. This masters is challenging me to truly reflect on my own experience, my own setting, my own learning as well as our community shared learning,” said Denise Sheridan. 

Dr Marguerita Magennis is a course coordinator of our master's in early childhood studies.  

“At master’s level you are stepping more into that zone of research, trying to bring about change, wanting your voice to be heard and having some input into what happens in the sector. As opposed to being the people who are told what to do, you are becoming one of those people who is saying what needs to be done and why you feel that is the case. 

“A lot of people talk about doing a master’s when they want to move into developing policy, helping to develop legislation, working with government bodies and getting involved with the inspectorate and making those improvements from the outside. People go into consultancy and work on a private level, you have lecturing and tutoring, and people often move into areas of research. You get the bug for writing, if that suits your interests a master’s is the route you want to go down,” she said. 

Why Study at Portobello Institute?

No matter what level of education you currently hold, Portobello Institute can guide you on your path to gaining a Level 9 in Early Childhood Studies.  

Our programmes start at Level 5 and Level 6 ECCE and Montessori. From there you can progress on to your Level 7 BA (Ord) degree. You can add a research project to your Level 7 and make it a BA (Hons) Level 8 and from there move on to your Level 9 all while building relationships with our tutors who will support you every step of the way.

The quality and experience of our tutors means you are learning from people who are qualified and know what they are talking about. You are not just a student number at Portobello, your tutor knows your name. 

Portobello Institute offers blended learning options so you can study online from anywhere in the world at times that suit you and your work/family life.

We have small class sizes and one-on-one tutor support to help make your goals accessible to you. 

We know that funding and the cost of education is a barrier for many people. We have set up easy payment plans so you can spread the cost over time.

Portobello Institute is the leading provider in early years education in Ireland with 40 years of experience. 

Click here to book a consultation to speak to our Early Years & Montessori advisor, Jennifer Matteazzi, about where you are on this journey and how we can guide you to achieve your goals. Call her directly on 01 892 0031 or email jennifer.matteazzi@portobelloinstitute.com.

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