Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Reflections on Degree Level Training


Tuesday 25 April 2017

People often ask why somebody would need a degree to work with young children. The assumption being, that little training is needed to ‘mind’ a child. Thankfully, there has been a shift with regards to the importance of early childhood education and care worldwide, and the complexity of working with young children is increasingly in the spotlight. In Ireland, the period from 2006 to 2016 has been a decade of significant change which saw for example, the introduction of Síolta and Aistear, the ECCE scheme, Better Start, the Child and Family Agency, the Childcare Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016, minimum qualification requirements, and Early Years Education Focussed Inspections.

During this time, 580 students also graduated from Mary Immaculate College with a Level 8 (Honours degree) in Early Childhood Education and Care. In 2007 my colleague Dr. Jennifer Pope and I began to disseminate an annual graduate profile survey. Of the 580 students surveyed, 359 returned completed surveys giving a response rate of 62%. This data now spanning ten years provides interesting insight into graduate perspectives on the value of degree level training, and working in the early years’ sector. It also provides interesting statistical data, showing for example, how demand for the degree increased over time, with student intake increasing by 71%, from 43 students in 2007 to 73 in 2016.

One of the benefits of having a body of data, is that it shows trends, and shifts over time, helps to debunk myths, and draws attention to ongoing issues. Graduates are frequently accused of exiting the sector, opting instead to become primary school teachers. Interestingly, 80% approx., of graduates enter the sector each year to work with children from birth to six years. Not only that, many of them work between 30 and forty hours, or in excess of 40 hours each week. Although some 20% of graduates undertake post graduate study, a small number (1-3 each year) pursue primary school teaching.

Regardless of qualifications, the sector is characterised by low salaries, an issue that is consistently highlighted within the data. It is disheartening to see that the average annual salary throughout the past decade is between €10, 000 - €20,000, far short of the average industrial wage. Because of this, and even though graduates find working with young children ‘exciting’, ‘very rewarding’, ‘everything I thought it would be’ they are concerned about remaining in the sector because ‘money wise, I just can’t make ends meet’ These feelings of dissatisfaction are more apparent among the 2015 and 2016 graduates.

There is still the question about the value of degree level training. The ECCE scheme in 2010 marks a watershed in terms of changing attitudes. Prior to this, graduates reported being told by employers that they were ‘over qualified’. From 2010 onwards, this narrative seems to have changed, and today, graduates report having a ‘highly sought after degree’, which, is considered to be ‘a bonus for employers because they can draw the higher capitation’. But is it all about capitation? Are there other benefits? The evidence suggests that employers are ‘impressed’ with graduates’ knowledge of the Síolta and Aistear frameworks, as well as their knowledge of the sector generally, and their plans and ideas for working with children, which in the words of a graduate ‘was definitely down to my degree’. In turn, graduates are confident about what they bring to the sector and enthusiastically discuss their ability to follow the child’s lead, to plan, implement activities and to reflect upon practice. Ultimately, the real winners are the children. As to whether a degree is needed? I would argue that children deserve it.



Dr. Mary Moloney is a researcher, author and lecturer in Early Childhood Education and Care at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. She also owned, managed and worked directly with children in her own early years setting fro many years. She is passionate about young children's early education and care, as well as the professional identity, and well-being of all staff working with, and interested in working with young children. Mary is also interested in international perspectives on early childhood education and her work has been influenced by visits to a broad range of countries including Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy, and more recently by her work as a volunteer with refugee children in Greece.

2 comments Comments

2 Responses

  1. Interesting read, and good to see that graduates are staying the sector and giving something back after their years of training. With all the changes coming down the track, a degree will eventually become compulsory, and we need these graduates in the sector. There is room for everybody, and a mix of level 5, 6 and degree level staff means that all staff can benefit and share information, experience and knowlege

  2. Aileen Healy says:

    This is a very interesting article . It is useful to have factual information on the number of graduates staying in the sector . Of course the low salaries is a major issue and one cannot blame graduates for moving elsewhere.
    Aileen Healy Tipperary Childcare Committee

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Learning Story(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Advocacy(1) MECPI(1) preschool settings(1) Learning Stories(9) Scéalta Blog(106) Hand Hygiene(2) Breathing(2) Online Research Symposium(3) Frosty the Snowman(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) preschool(4) ELC(1) iOS(1) awards 2020(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Wrapping paper(1) Children's Rights(3) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) emotional environment(2) COVID-19 crisis(1) quarantine kids(1) Meal time(1) Opportunities(1) Albert Einstein(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Liz Kerrins(1) listen(1) QRF(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) animals(2) Sequins(1) Touch(1) Photographs(1) early childhood ireland research(1) Nuturing interactions(1) The Lullaby Book(1) CCTV(1) Child mental health(1) Study Trip(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Sustainable(1) Little Buddies(1) EECERA 2016(1) Music(3) Syria(1) children development(1) Map(1) upskilling(1) meals(3) Traffic Lights(1) Engagement(1) Gratitude(1) STEM(3) friendships(1) Celebrations(4) Loss(1) Line-ups(1) Painting(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Early Years(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Body Language(1) Exploratory Play(1) Return to Work Training(1) reopening ireland(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Laugh(1) democracy(1) mental health problems(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) gender bias(1) Well-Being(10) Change(1) National Holiday(1) Covid19 crisis(1) early childhood educator(2) Graduation(1) Europe(1) feisty(1) Affordability(1) Belonging(3) purpose(1) Inspirational(2) Positivity(1) Mealtimes(1) conference(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Imagination(3) National Pyjama Day(1) learning(19) learning hub(2) Titles(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) primary education(1) Care-giving routines(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Exercise(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Penguins(1) Reading Time(2) Proceedings Journal(1) outdoors(4) Wendy Lee(4) imotion(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Return to Work(1) Wonder(1) listening(1) risk(2) Spiders(1) Maynooth(1) Behaviour(3) man up(1) Impact(1) CIT(1) child-centric(1) San Miniato(4) Primary School(3) risky play(2) babies(7) value(1) Our Little Seed(1) Social Skills(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) mushrooms(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Kilkenny(1) Sociodramatic play(1) reading(6) dining(1) Magic(1) Love(3) Children's Book Club(1) MA(1) children’s learning(1) social media(2) Names(1) Digital Devices(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Creativity(7) Special Needs Assistants(1) Plastic(1) movement behaviours(1) Arlene Forster(1) Trigonometry(1) interacting(2) Investment(2) Pen green(1) Funding(1) structure(1) code of ethics(1) ReCreate(2) relationships(18) Health(2) community(5) Your place(1) playleader(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) GDPR(1) toddlers(3) outdoor environment(1) Exploring(1) Biting(1) routine(2) christmas(9) blog(56) ERASMUS+(3) Queues(1) Irish guidelines(1) Appreciation(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Awards(2) Budget 2019(2) timekeeping skills(1) outdoor space(3) Children(8) World book day(1) behavioural science(1) Trade union(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Maria Montessori(1) Independence(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Universal Design(2) Design(1) Challenges(1) creche(1) Educators(2) Supernanny(1) Obesity(1) Looking Forward(1) Meet the Members(1) Nonverbal(1) environments(1) natural environment(1) Staff Motivation(1) an post(1) phone apps(1) Early Childhood Education(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) developing motor skills(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) Stress(2) National Awards 2018(2) Maths Week(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) Drawing(2) Limerick(1) Care routines(1) College(1) Bereavement(2) coronavirus(1) Mayo(1) Administrative Burden(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Siolta blog(8) Research and Professional Learning(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Book Review(1) Snakes(1) educating(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) emotions(2) Patterns(1) Vertical grouping(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) built environments(1) Employee(1) budget(1) Routines(2) Xbox(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Scents(1) Research Seminar(1) under 3's(3) Easter(1) Mathematicians(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Inspiring Practice(1) Flowers(1) partnership with families(1) Buddy Bench(1) responsive relationships(1) International Narratives(1) Upcycling(1) Norway(2) Snacks(1) play therapy(1) Small World Play(1) Home Corner(1) early years research(3) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Thanks(1) Grief(1) Magda Gerber(1) UNICEF report(1) Covid pandemic(3) Engineers Week(2) Unesco(1) Summer(2) annual conference(1) early year’s classrooms(1) AsIAm(2) Intention(1) Fantasy play(1) child-centred approach(1) linc(1) Shoes(1) Covid response(2) Awards 2019(1) Japan(1) scéalta(58) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) conversations(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Leargas(1) United Nations(1) University(1) Degree(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) COVID(3) Thank you(1) The Jelly King(1) Afghanistan(1) lockdown(1) Orla Kenny(1) Regulation 23(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Graduate(1) TRAP(1) Builders(1) Interaction(1) Pedagogy(2) child safeguarding(1) HR(1) Margy Whalley(1) research submissions(1) dining experiences(1) respect(5) CPD(1) early years settings(1) women in research(1) memories(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Early Years Education(1) play pod(1) Exit interview(1) Seas Suas(1) National Awards 2019(1) Quality(4) dogs(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) preschools(1) Trade Unions(1) development(9) Thinking(1) childcare services(1) Visitors(1) Family wall(1) Arithmetic(1) Wesco(1) Communications(1) UK Government(1) guardian(1) New Appointments(1) Iraq(1) trust(4) Support(1) Leprechauns(1) Craft(1) child led(1) Youtube Series(1) Autism(4) inspiring interactions(1) Capable(1) apps for children(1) Rituals(1) Party(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Reggio(1) role playing(1) Death(2) Playdough(1) Self-Esteem(1) Performing(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Sleep(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Snack Time(1) life long learning(1) learning bias(1) INTO(1) supportive environments(2) art of the relationship(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Children's Research Network(2) Super Shed Stories(2) worldbookday(1) Community involvement(1) Magnavacchi(1) DCYA(6) Certificate(1) youdoodle(1) NCCA(4) Empathy(1) Facebook(1) Storytelling(8) reopening(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) E.coli(1) Aistear(132) ECIAwards20(1) refugees(1) Trick or treat(1) planning(1) ECEC Setting(2) TOY Programme(1) communication(4) Building Resilience(1) Shapes(2) education system(1) Confidence(1) social science(1) Lego(2) Role play(1) AIM(2) European Project(1) Brain(1) Identity(5) RTE Investigates(1) annual awards(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Prexit(1) ECEC(4) Síolta QAP(1) Buddies(1) Mental Health(4) Emergent Curriculum(1) Children's Voice(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Settling in(4) First 5(1) Yoga(1) Research Conference 2019(1) education(2) play(37) COVID-19(18) Cork(1) show and tell(1) Seanchaí(1) Vietnam(1) Fee Play(1) stories(3) Visual Impairment(1) Mo Scéal(1) UN(1) Italy(1) social media policy(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) collaboration(1) Smiles(1) Participation(2) play stories(2) Tuscan Approach(2) overhear(1) Children and families(2) UD(1) Mindfulness(3) curiosity(3) Budget 2020(1) STEAM(1) Window(1) Self Help Skills(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Laughter(1) Qualifications(1) Pre-School Services(1) Performance Management(1) healthy eating policies(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Mantra(1) Treasure(1) Jenga(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Teamwork(1) Confident(1) Sessional service(1) pets(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Oireachtas(1) Weather(1) Kerry(1) Culture(2) emotional well-being(1) Winter(1) Cognitive development(1) Book Club(2) DES Inspection(1) Fire Safety(1) IGL(1) keep in touch(1) Infection Control(1) Inclusion(3) grandchild(1) Childhood(2) Iceland(2) TUSLA(1) gender stereotype(1) Maynooth University(2) Workplace Relations(3) Learning Journal(2) Ceremony(1) story time(2) Women(1) Digital(1) Story(2) Loving Relationships(2) Sport(1) Self-regulation(1) Sweets(1) Consent(1) Plants(1) dublin(2) Recycling(2) Leadership(1) Games(2) Inspections(1) Gardening(1) Irish(1) EECERA(1) Diversity(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) ears(1) Glitter(2) Reggio Children Network(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Art(6) EM Standing(1) UK(1) Professionalisation(5) journey(1) Sustainability(3) Recycle(1) Nutrition(1) experience(1) early years learning(1) Treasure Chest(1) Time Out(1) curriculum(7) Halloween(2) School Age Childcare(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) science week(2) family time(1) Child Care(1) Inter-generational(2) ECCE(7) Policy(2) Pobal sector profile(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) maternity health(1) World Health Organisation(1) Maternity Leave(1) SPICE Framework(1) Childcare(3) baby room(1) documentation(4) Horizon 2020(1) play pods(2) Maths(6) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Montessori(3) parents(7) Blocks(1) learners(1) Through the looking glass(1) bonds(1) Santa(2) Pobal(1) homeschool(1) aistear blog(3) early childhood(1) Sculptures(1) Arts(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Time(1) transitions(10) Family(1) Communicating(1) Awards 2018(3) Traditions(2) Frustrations(1) Skillnet(1) Anxiety(2) continual professional development(1) educarer(1) bloom app(1) Masterclass(2) democratic citizens(1) Reflective Practice(1) early life(1) Workplace well-being(1) staying connected(1) UNCRC(2) Fabric(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Kids Own(1) Wilenski(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) risk assessment(1) Pretend Play(1) Light table(1) Dance(1) Counting(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Croatia(1) Kindness(1) Human Resources(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Creative(1) Online(1) Decisions(1) Anthony Semann(1) Whole Group(1) Early Learning and Care(2) Interactions(3) RIE philosphy(1) racism(1) Socioemotional development(1) Infectious diseases(1) Running(1) Interests(1) science(3) Workforce(1) Awards Night(1) Elders(1) Learning journals(1) eating(1) Environment(2) Malaguzzi(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Engineering(3) Exclusion(1) First 5 strategy(1) Celebrate(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) PIP(1) Budget 2018(1) research(8) Christmas Creativity(2) june29(1) Adoption(1) keezy(1) Mixed age groups(3) SAC(1) Eritrea(1) Large Doll Play(1) multi-generational community(1) Relaxation(1) Twitter(1) Feeding(1) partnership(1) Nordic model(1) Technology(3) Training(3) Favouritism(1) Valentine's Day(3) Event Guide(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Mark Twain(1) food(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) quarantine(2) books(5) presentation skills(1) Playschool(1) Síolta(139) Looking Back(1) Academics(1) Decision Making(1) NAEYC(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Academic Skills(1) Mud kitchens(1) ICBN(1) Mount Everest(1) Growing up Outdoors(2) Giraffe(2) Reopening Childcare(1) online training(1) outdoor play(7) Potential(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Rich Documentation(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) pablo(1) peer group(1) Equality(1) Early Years Educators(3) Document Learning(1) scientific and artistic processes(1) Competent(1) worries(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine