Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Reflections on Degree Level Training

By: DR. MARY MOLONEY

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.

 

Bio:

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:

Vertical grouping(1) INTO(1) grandchild(1) Imagination(3) AsIAm(2) Gardening(1) Care routines(1) Laughter(1) Arithmetic(1) Anthony Semann(1) Grief(1) play therapy(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Masterclass(2) educating(1) Challenges(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Prexit(1) Workplace well-being(1) Covid pandemic(1) curiosity(3) Potential(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) First 5 strategy(1) lockdown(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) PIP(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Playschool(1) Creative(1) Rituals(1) Snakes(1) science week(2) Motor neuron disease(1) Document Learning(1) Early Years Educators(3) New Appointments(1) relationships(17) Storytelling(6) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) routine(2) General Data Protection Regulation(1) early years research(2) ELC(1) Ceremony(1) Oireachtas(1) animals(2) Treasure(1) MA(1) STEM(3) Snacks(1) Afghanistan(1) Self Help Skills(1) Digital(1) Budget 2019(2) Sustainable(1) CPD(1) Awards Night(1) child-centred approach(1) Capable(1) Death(2) Spiders(1) First 5(1) Siolta blog(8) Smiles(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Feeding(1) Employee(1) role playing(1) Settling in(4) Biting(1) maternity health(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Opportunities(1) Mealtimes(1) Magda Gerber(1) conversations(1) developing motor skills(1) Craft(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) ECCE(7) linc(1) Budget 2018(1) Cognitive development(1) Stress(2) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) education(2) Budget 2020(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Trick or treat(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Music(3) Role play(1) Irish guidelines(1) Glitter(2) Quality(4) Mental Health(4) Elders(1) Maths Week(1) Mud kitchens(1) Advocacy(1) Sequins(1) Line-ups(1) Equality(1) ICBN(1) Halloween(2) Relaxation(1) Inspections(1) early childhood educator(2) Adoption(1) memories(1) Norway(2) journey(1) responsive relationships(1) Interests(1) ReCreate(2) Japan(1) Shapes(1) reading(5) structure(1) Giraffe(2) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) bonds(1) Online(1) Aistear(122) CCTV(1) Laugh(1) Xbox(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) christmas(9) awards 2020(1) Breathing(2) Touch(1) educarer(1) E.coli(1) Interactions(2) Graduate(1) family time(1) Body Language(1) keezy(1) Early Years(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Sessional service(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Youtube Series(1) Your place(1) Decisions(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Queues(1) Dance(1) Awards(2) Obesity(1) Appreciation(1) GDPR(1) childcare services(1) feisty(1) Children's Voice(1) Playdough(1) Fabric(1) Running(1) Qualifications(1) Academic Skills(1) Confidence(1) Wonder(1) babies(7) Summer(1) Academics(1) Exercise(1) Identity(5) Frustrations(1) baby room(1) Treasure Chest(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Leaders in Practice(1) play stories(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) experience(1) preschool settings(1) Family wall(1) Children's Rights(3) Love(2) Annual Conference 2017(2) Professionalisation(5) Awards 2019(1) Inspirational(2) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Iceland(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) behavioural science(1) Children(4) value(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) TOY Programme(1) Inter-generational(2) Aldo Fortunati(4) Digital Devices(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Map(1) Ariana Pucci(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) coronavirus(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Sport(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Certificate(1) Performing(1) learning(19) Mo Scéal(1) outdoors(4) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Communications(1) National Holiday(1) Support(1) Building Resilience(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) environments(1) Participation(2) Loss(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Blocks(1) College(1) keep in touch(1) Event Guide(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Administrative Burden(1) Reflective Practice(1) overhear(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Interaction(1) Horizon 2020(1) Rich Documentation(1) Celebrate(1) Covid response(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) pablo(1) Wesco(1) Wendy Lee(3) Routines(2) Gratitude(1) Penguins(1) Nuturing interactions(1) EECERA 2016(1) RIE philosphy(1) Super Shed Stories(2) The Lullaby Book(1) mushrooms(1) Degree(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Games(1) NCCA(3) Research and Professional Learning(1) SPICE Framework(1) Engineering Ireland(1) play pod(1) listen(1) apps for children(1) healthy eating policies(1) dining(1) reopening(1) San Miniato(4) mental health problems(1) Well-Being(10) Primary School(2) Behaviour(3) Sweets(1) Self-regulation(1) Whole Group(1) Seas Suas(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Sustainability(3) Mount Everest(1) Flowers(1) Identity and Belonging(4) ERASMUS+(3) Margy Whalley(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Mark Twain(1) Learning Journal(2) Engagement(1) Shoes(1) Child Care(1) Pedagogy(1) Affordability(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Upcycling(1) IGL(1) Kids Own(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Family(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Educators(2) Visual Impairment(1) Design(1) social media(1) UNCRC(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) community(5) dublin(2) Through the looking glass(1) Book Review(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Learning Stories(9) Workplace Relations(3) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) continual professional development(1) reopening ireland(1) research submissions(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Awards 2018(3) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Kerry(1) youdoodle(1) Fee Play(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Engineers Week(2) Maynooth University(2) Valentine's Day(3) outdoor play(6) story time(2) ECEC(3) pets(1) Buddies(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Impact(1) Teamwork(1) AIM(2) Policy(2) National Awards 2018(2) Brain(1) stories(3) aistear blog(3) Arts(1) Recycle(1) Scents(1) Drawing(2) United Nations(1) Reopening Childcare(1) movement behaviours(1) CIT(1) World Health Organisation(1) Plants(1) Winter(1) Maria Montessori(1) phone apps(1) Pen green(1) books(4) Study Trip(1) Exploring(1) Technology(3) food(1) Celebrations(4) Annual Conference 2019(1) friendships(1) TRAP(1) Jenga(1) Home Corner(1) Orla Kenny(1) Empathy(1) Iraq(1) MECPI(1) Visitors(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) budget(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Names(1) Positivity(1) conference(1) Twitter(1) primary education(1) trust(4) Wrapping paper(1) Time Out(1) Confident(1) Children's Research Network(1) Belonging(3) Builders(1) Sculptures(1) refugees(1) Diversity(1) worries(1) Trade Unions(1) bloom app(1) Competent(1) Lego(2) ECEC Setting(2) Easter(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Maynooth(1) early years learning(1) Maths(5) Culture(2) Research Seminar(1) COVID-19(8) Recycling(2) planning(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Nutrition(1) imotion(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Intention(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Mantra(1) Book Club(2) collaboration(1) science(3) Independence(1) Trigonometry(1) Wilenski(1) Weather(1) European Project(1) Mayo(1) Malaguzzi(1) Pobal(1) Self-Esteem(1) Thinking(1) Pobal sector profile(1) COVID-19 Reopening(1) National Awards 2019(1) Meal time(1) Reggio(1) Buddy Bench(1) Little Buddies(1) Human Resources(1) play(34) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) dining experiences(1) emotional environment(2) Síolta QAP(1) Exit interview(1) Magic(1) Health(2) Plastic(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Sleep(1) Early Childhood Ireland(4) Community involvement(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Infection Control(1) Child mental health(1) Titles(1) preschool(4) communication(4) Albert Einstein(1) risky play(2) Arlene Forster(1) Leadership(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Creativity(4) social science(1) DCYA(6) Decision Making(1) dogs(1) Meet the Members(1) Syria(1) Care-giving routines(1) annual conference(1) The Jelly King(1) EM Standing(1) Childcare(3) Scéalta Book Review(1) Thank you(1) Photographs(1) life long learning(1) Workforce(1) InspireMe.ie(1) risk assessment(1) Change(1) Performance Management(1) Inclusion(3) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Staff Motivation(1) toddlers(3) Kilkenny(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Graduation(1) Irish(1) interacting(2) HR(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Exclusion(1) Santa(2) School Age Childcare(1) Leprechauns(1) play pods(1) Art(6) child-centric(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Story(1) Pre-School Services(1) Environment(2) Light table(1) gender bias(1) development(8) under 3's(3) Vietnam(1) Reading Time(1) RTE Investigates(1) Engineering(3) Investment(2) purpose(1) research(6) Infectious diseases(1) supportive environments(2) UD(1) blog(37) transitions(10) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Favouritism(1) Training(2) june29(1) Children and families(1) Limerick(1) Supernanny(1) Thanks(1) NAEYC(1) Facebook(1) Sociodramatic play(1) parents(6) Leargas(1) Magnavacchi(1) Window(1) show and tell(1) UN(1) Anxiety(2) respect(5) Communicating(1) University(1) learning bias(1) Funding(1) DES Inspection(1) scéalta(41) Mathematicians(1) Socioemotional development(1) Social Skills(1) listening(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Mindfulness(2) Síolta(121) Italy(1) eating(1) racism(1) ears(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) curriculum(5) learners(1) Traffic Lights(1) Painting(1) Consent(1) Learning Story(1) documentation(4) Party(1) Universal Design(2) Learning journals(1) Fantasy play(1) Maternity Leave(1) meals(3) early life(1) code of ethics(1) man up(1) Christmas Creativity(2) risk(2) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) art of the relationship(1) gender stereotype(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) children development(1) Montessori(3) Yoga(1) iOS(1) Time(1) Our Little Seed(1) Traditions(2) emotions(2) Autism(4) Bereavement(2) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) SAC(1) staying connected(1) outdoor space(3) Snack Time(1) Patterns(1) Scéalta Blog(99) Trade union(1) Mixed age groups(2) Eritrea(1) Childhood(1) Cork(1) Nonverbal(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine