A redundancy in 2008 was the catalyst for a complete career change for Siobhan Duffy from Dundalk. As a young adult, she had volunteered with various groups that worked with children and had always loved this line of work. Having four young children of her own at the time reinforced Siobhan’s belief that her career lay in this direction.
“I always had a passion for working with children and I knew then it was now or never,” Siobhan said “So I decided to follow my heart and while working in various administration jobs, I began taking online part-time courses in Early Years Education.“
Her part-time studies were successful in landing her the full-time role of Early Years Practitioner in the Lios na nÓg Playgroup in 2008, a busy community crèche located within the campus of St. Joseph’s Primary School in Dundalk. She settled in, loved the work and after a few years, decided to continue with her education but with a full-time job and a growing family to take care of, full-time study wasn’t practical. Siobhan contacted the Lifelong Learning Centre in Dundalk IT to check out her part-time options and subsequently was among the first part-time intake for the School of Health and Science’s Bachelor of Arts Degree in Applied Early Childhood Studies in 2014.
“We attended two evenings a week and every third Saturday plus assignments and the lecturers were brilliant at supporting us” said Siobhan. “As we all worked in this sector, we understood the challenges and issues and were able to support and advise each other. It was an all-female class and we work primarily in an all-female environment so we all felt that it would be great to have men doing the course as our young charges would definitely benefit from increased gender balance and more male role models.”
She completed her Level 7 two-year degree in 2016 and is now in the middle of studying for her BA(Hons) Degree in Applied Early Childhood Studies, a Level 8 course with DKIT due to finish in May 2017.
“The entire degree course is normally four years, but because of our previous qualifications, we were exempted from first year and went straight into second year.” said Siobhan.
In the middle of her degree course, Siobhan was promoted to Manager of the Lios na nÓg Playgroup in 2015 and credits her studies in DkIT with giving her the confidence to apply for the role. With the support of the Playgroup Board of Management, she is now in charge of 28 staff looking after 190 children daily between the ages of 2 and 12 in full-time and afterschool care for 50 weeks a year.
“Making the decision to go back to education was not an easy one, I knew that it would demand a considerable amount of time, energy and the support of my family. It all worked out and it was such a positive experience. I love what I do and following my heart has paid off in so many ways for me.”
For course information see: http://www.learn.ie/childcare