No two days are the same in childcare, and it’s a job that can always bring a smile to your face – that’s what Donegal woman Danielle Sweeney loves most about her work.
Danielle is part of the team at the Niall Mór Community Childcare Centre in Killybegs, where she enjoys providing top-class childcare and education to local children.
To gain formal training in this field, Danielle completed a PLC Early Childhood Care and Education in St Catherine’s Vocational School two years ago through Donegal ETB’s Further Education and Training (FET) Service.
The course, although it’s called Post Leaving Certificate, is for people of any age to learn the foundations of working with children aged 0-6 years. PLC courses prepare students for entry-level employment or progression to further study and are designed for those who want an extra year to study a specific vocational area after the Leaving Cert and for adults returning to education.
Danielle, aged 32, had already trained as an SNA and worked in healthcare before joining the crèche. Two years ago she heard about the PLC being offered just across the road and decided to seize the opportunity to upskill even more.
For Danielle, who lives in Glenties, there were a lot of benefits in studying close to home.
“It’s great to have it in Killybegs, sometimes all these courses are further afield, like Letterkenny, and it’s a lot of travel for people in Donegal. It’s nice to have something you can do that’s closer to home,” she said.
The class times were also very manageable for Danielle as she balanced work and family life.
“It’s great you can do the course in one year. I have a child at home too, so it worked well for me, I could drop my daughter to school before going to the course and then work after it. Classes were from half nine until 1pm, so it worked well for me as a parent.”
Danielle enjoyed the theory and practical learning through work experience. Modules included child development, Childhood Social, Legal and Health Studies, Special Needs Assisting, and Early Learning Environment.
“The tutors were all very good and very helpful, we had a great wee community of support,” she said.
Those who qualify can go on to work in a range of settings such as pre-schools, crèches, nurseries, Montessori, au-pair work, working with children with special needs. They can also choose to progress to Level 7 or 8 college courses through the Higher Links Education Scheme, which Danielle says is another option for her, maybe somewhere down the line. In fact Donegal ETB’s PLC students have the highest rate of progression to third level out of all PLC providers in the country.
“There are lots of opportunities you can get from this PLC. We got our Special Needs Assisting QQI through the course too, and this is something that people are needing more and more these days,” she said.
For Danielle, all the work paid off as the course supported her employment at Niall Mór.
“It’s a lovely career to get into,” she says. “I know that it’s not for everyone but it’s definitely for me.
“We have a lovely crèche up here, the staff are lovely and all the families and kids are lovely.
“It’s a great job because every day is different. Even through COVID, when you come into work the kids always put a smile on your face, sometimes when you are in here you forget what’s going on out there. I love it.”
Donegal ETB’s FET Service is now accepting applications for eleven QQI Level 5 PLC courses around the county starting in September in Killybegs (St Catherine’s Vocational School), Letterkenny (Errigal College) and Stranorlar (Finn Valley College). They include Art, Craft and Design, Business Administration/Studies, Construction Technology, Early Childhood Care and Education, Health Service Skills, Nursing Studies, and Sports, Recreation and Exercise.
You can apply online through their website course finder (https://www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/course-finder/) using PLC as your keyword to find the course you want. More information on PLCs is available here: https://www.donegaletb.ie/feature/programmes/post-leaving-certificate-plc-programme/Tags: