Montessori Alliance

Brief History

Past

Ireland’s first ‘casa dei bambini’ was established in Waterford early in the 1920s. Mother de Sales Lowry, the Superior of the Mercy Convent, established a full Montessori programme in St. Otternan’s School, as it was funded by the Department of Education it was free to it’s pupils.

Sr. Gertrude Allman, adapted the Montessori materials to enable her to teach the compulsory subject of Irish. The average class size was 110 pupils aged between 4 and 7 years of age and was staffed by one Montessori directress and 6 teaching assistants.

Dr. Maria Montessori visited the school twice, once in 1927 and again 10 years later in 1937 when she was accompanied by her son Mario. Dr. Montessori visited Ireland frequently in the 1930s and examined students in the Association Montessori International (AMI) college in Sion Hill, Blackrock, Dublin in 1934. Montessori St. Nicholas Centre was established in London in 1946. In 1954 the Montessori St Nicholas Charity was established by two students of Maria Montessori, Margaret Homfray and Phoebe Child. Both of these women were instrumental in bringing Montessori teacher training to Ireland.

Present

world in our handsIn Ireland the provision of Early Years Education is undergoing a restructuring. Up until quite recently as long as childcare practitioners fulfilled criteria laid down by the Health Services Executive (HSE) and local planning regulations, they were free to set up and run their own child care establishment. Training and a qualification in Early Years education was not one of the criteria stipulated by the HSE. In 2014 TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency was established. TUSLA brings together a number of agencies which deal with issues impacting on children and their families under the one legal entity. TUSLA is comprised of the HSE Children & Family Services, Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board. In early 2014 new qualification requirements were announced and are expected to be in force by the end of 2014.  With the introduction of the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme (ECCE) all practitioners working in an Early Years setting were encouraged to acquire formal childcare qualifications at FETAC (now QQI) Level 5 Major Award or above. The new qualification requirements will mean all pre-school leaders who are delivering the ECCE programme will be required to hold a Level 6 qualification in Early Childhood Care & Education.  All other staff who are working with children in early years settings will have to possess at least a Level 5  in Early Childhood Care & Education.  These new qualification requirements were expected to come into force for all existing services by September 2015 but have been postponed until September 2016 for existing services (DCYA, June 2015).  New services will have to adhere to the Level 5 & Level 6 qualifications as detailed above..

At present a FETAC Level 6 Major Award in Montessori Education does not exist. Therefore many Colleges are combining FETAC Level 6 modules in Montessori Education with FETAC Level 6 modules in Childcare to give a FETAC Level 6 Major Award in Childcare. Saint Nicholas Montessori College Ireland, offers a Bachelor of Arts in Montessori at both ordinary HETAC Level 7 and honors degree HETAC Level 8 while Cork Institute of Technology also offers an Honors Bachelor of Arts Degree in Montessori.  Portobello Institute have a HETAC Higher Certificate in Arts which is a two year program where graduates can go directly into the 3rd year of the Saint Nicholas Montessori College Ireland’s BA programme. The College of Progressive Education have a similar agreement with Saint Nicholas Montessori College where students who have completed a Level 6 course will get 60 credits off the 180 credits required for the degree.

Qualification and Quality Assurance Ireland (QQAI) is the organisation responsible for ‘the external quality assurance of further and higher education and training and validates programmes and makes awards for certain providers in these sectors. QQI is also responsible for the maintenance, development and review of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).’

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©2011 Montessori Alliance. Drogheda, Co. Louth.

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