While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought huge disruption to education over the past 17 months, there was some good news for four learners in County Clare this year as they have been accepted onto the BA in Applied Early Childhood Education and Care QQI Level 7 course at Carlow Institute of Technology. This fantastic achievement is the next step for the group who recently completed their Early Childhood Care and Education, a QQI Level 6 course offered at the Further Education and Training Centre, Shannon Town Campus. Prior to this the group completed their QQI Level 5 course in Early Childhood Care and Education which was a stepping stone to their current pathway to success.

These part-time courses range from beginners to advanced vocational training which can help learners to achieve a major award and prepare for employment or further their learning.  Courses are available at Further Education and Training centres throughout the Clare region in Ennis, Shannon Town, Kilrush Scariff, Miltown Malbay and Ennistymon and are ideal for those who need to fit their study around their busy work and personal lives. The online evening and Saturday courses work particularly well in allowing learners to maintain a good balance as they return to education.

The four learners progressing to Level 7 at Carlow Institute of Technology include Barbara Kelly, Sarah McMahon, Amanda Kelly and Lisa O’Dwyer.  Sarah who is from Meelick and a mother to four adult children began her learner journey nearly twenty years ago. Her youngest child was just three months old when she took part in a Youthreach programme in Ennis followed by a Level 5 in Childcare. “I was a stay at home mum for many years with one child who has special needs so it was a very busy time, but as the children grew up I returned to working in childcare and I also completed a Special Needs Assistant course,” she said. “Returning to education all those years later showed me that it doesn’t matter what age you are, learning is for life, you just have to prepare and have the confidence to give it a go.” This experience changed my life and I got life-long friends from it too,” she said.

Mum of two Lisa from Ennis also had to learn how to juggle home and study life and she has plenty of experience looking after  children, working as a childminder for the past ten years. “I’ve been so lucky to have worked with the same families throughout the years as well as raising my own two girls. Once they started to get a bit older I realised I wanted to do something more for myself. I did a Level 5 in Childcare ten years ago and going back to progress to Level 6 was really helped by the flexibility of the course. Others found the online part hard but it actually suited me and the tutors were so helpful whenever we needed something. I also really enjoyed the social side of going back to education, meeting like-minded people and becoming friends with the others. I’m really looking forward to going to Carlow now with the other girls and getting my student card!”

For further information on any of the part-time certified courses available simply log onto FET Centre – Ennis Campus | Learning and Skills

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