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Becoming a Childcare Practitioner 

Have you ever been asked “Why do you want to work with children” by someone with a puzzled face and your response is “I just love them!” In Portobello Institute, we understand why you would love a career in childcare, working with children is one of the best jobs in the world. Children are fun – no two days with them are the same. They have boundless energy and a natural curiosity. Children are the most creative and resilient species on earth and generally just make us smile. Children through their innocence, enthusiasm and sense of wonder motivate us to be better people.

As a childcare practitioner, you help to build the character of each child you care for, they are dependent on you and your behaviour and actions play a crucial part in their development. Following this course, you will understand how to support the emotional needs of children whilst considering their social and intellectual development in the setting that you are caring for them in. You will recognise the challenges children face as they go through the different stages of development and how your behaviour and values impact you as their carer. You will gain an appreciation of the positive impact on shaping their personalities and the responsibility that goes with this position. You will explore your own creative skills and how you can use these through therapeutic play to develop and support the children through their issues whilst in your care.

Portobello Institute was founded in 1981 as the first childcare training college in Ireland. We have been delivering childcare training programmes for over 35 years. Our reputation for training professional childcare workers is renowned and there is an immense demand for our graduates with a minimum choice of 3 jobs for every childcare graduate of Portobello. With the renewed government focus and initiatives to increase the number of childcare places, there are more career opportunities for qualified child carers than ever before. Whether you choose to follow a career in childcare, working in a day care centre, as a nanny in a private home, or as a childcare practitioner within your community, you will have the opportunity to support young minds to explore and experience the world so they develop into confident young people with a general enthusiasm for life.

You can download the Childcare brochure here



Level 6 Major Award in Early Years Care and Education

This major award is made up of the following minor awards;

• Child Development - 15 credits

• Early Childhood Curriculum - 15 credits

• Childhood Social, Legal & Health Issues - 15 credits

• Personal & Professional Development - 15 credits

• Work Experience - 15 credits

• Child Psychology – 15 credits

• Play Therapy – 15 credits

• Child Protection – 15 credits

Course Structure

Portobello Institute’s Childcare course is delivered over 1 academic year. You will spend 3 days per week in college and 2 days per week in a work experience placement. Whilst in college, you focus on learning about the development of the child and the core principles of early years care and best practice. Classes are split between practical and theory.

Time is spent researching and developing your knowledge of the social, emotional, physical and intellectual development of the child aged 0-6 years. There is the opportunity for you to consider all types of early years provision including state, private, voluntary and institutional and to review government legislation in relation to childcare practitioners.

Work Placement Programme

It is important you have the opportunity to gain experience in different types of settings with different age groups and you will rotate on placement through 3 different childcare environments with children of different age groups. These will include the following types of environments – crèche with under 3s, pre-school for 3-5 yrs , after-school for over 5s. The aim of the placement programme of 2 days per week, is to give you the opportunity to put into practice the exercises and skills you will have learned during the programme. All placements are visited and approved by our programme management team to ensure you will have the opportunity to learn in a child-friendly environment were there is best practice and children come first. Our tutors and programme management team will help you secure a suitable work placement during your studies and if an approved centre is available this placement can be in your locality to reduce travel and time spent in Dublin.

Entry Requirements

Entry onto this programme is based on interview. At the interview we are seeking the characteristics and traits we believe essential to work with children – a fun-loving outlook with lots of patience and a genuine interest in the care and development of children.

Our Tutors

We have a team of over 15 childcare tutors with differing experience in the early years care sector. They are each passionate about the care and development of children and the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of childcare practitioners. They are experienced & qualified professional with a minimum of 10 years working in the early years care environment before commencing a career as a tutor. Some of our tutors have owned their own early years centres and/or have worked overseas as professional child carers. There are immense benefits of learning under their very experienced guidance, click here to view some of their profiles.

Student Support

We passionately believe in the opportunity education creates and the impact it can have on the course of your life. However everyone learns differently therefore needs different supports. Our philosophy in Portobello Institute, is to ensure each and every student is supported to have the opportunity to achieve their personal best. This includes small class sizes so you will know each of your classmates and your tutor will know you, specific time available that you can book one to one tutor support, assignment support that you can submit draft assignments with feedback for improvement to allow you the opportunity to submit your best final version. There is a dedicated experienced programme and quality management team who take a personal interest in you, your studies and your career ambitions. They will assist with your study queries, discuss your personal challenges and advise you on the employment and further study options available to you. We are here to encourage and support you to stay on your learning journey and to realize your personal best.

Career Opportunities

The opportunities for qualified childcare practitioners have increased greatly over the past 10-15 years. These include opportunities to follow a career in the day care centre sector to travelling the world working as a private nanny or the very fulfilling role of working in the community with disadvantaged children. If you chose to work in a crèche, you will be approved for the standard government ECCE capitation grant. You will also be qualified to open your own day care centre for children and we provide additional supports in the form of advice on planning, regulations, recruitment etc to our graduates who chose this path. 

Further Studies

Gaining direct entry in to year 2 of an honours degree in Early Childhood Studies is an added benefit of completing this programme through Portobello Institute. The degree furthers many of the development theories that you will be introduced to and the QQI level 6 Major Award in Early Years Care & Education serves as the first year of this degree. You can study for the honours degree qualification full-time through Portobello Institute with further information available by following this link. Alternatively, you may choose to further your knowledge by studying the Montessori method to guide children between the ages of 3-6 years. You will only need to complete 3 further modules to gain qualifications in the Montessori pedagogy. You can choose to study these modules full-time as a second year or as a part-time programme.

Childcare Curriculum

The curriculum of this programme is broad and lays the foundations of understanding of the essential needs, developmentally, for a child to mature as a happy individual. Each module engages you to consider your impact on the world of a child and how you can improve and protect their environment through your actions.

Child Development

Every child follows a sequence of development that is predictable yet unique to each child. Understanding the changes that occur on this emotional, biological and physiological path are essential to supporting each child through this journey. This module covers the fundamentals of this journey considering the influence of the childcare worker in promoting positive child development and behaviours.

Early Childhood Curriculum

Children learn extensively from birth to 6 years and this is recognised as a crucial time in a child’s life to build a positive attitude towards education.  Understanding the different approaches of the early childhood theorists on learning, then leading implementation in indoor and outdoor contexts is a key role of today’s childcare practitioner. You will learn the fundamentals to support each child’s sense of well-being, identity and belonging that is in your care. This module includes the national framework of Ireland for early childhood learning - Aistear which was developed for early learning in children from birth to 6 years. 

Childhood Social, Legal & Health Issues

Children are impacted by a complex range of factors including family structures, health, culture and community changes. Being able to recognise these issues and protect a child in line with national child protection guidelines is part of the role of the childcare practitioner. This module covers these factors and also gives you the specialised skills to meet the needs of children and parents in the early years care setting whilst being aware of national and international social policies.

Child Psychology

A child’s behaviour will often give an insight into a child’s psychological well-being. This module introduces you to the concepts and factors that influence a child’s psychological development and well-being. You will also learn how your own values, assumptions and beliefs relate to your behaviour, interactions and the impact these can have on a child in your care. Issues of relevant policy and the best practices surrounding these areas are also covered during this module.

Play Therapy

Play and specifically organised play therapy can have immense benefit for helping children make sense of the world around them and the factors affecting them. This module will give you the skills and techniques to use therapeutic play such as sand, art, music, lego etc to encourage positive behaviours in self-esteem, behaviour and general adjustment needs.

Child Protection

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has outlined in the revised “Children First” guidance that people who work with children need to understand their responsibility for safe practice and the reporting of concerns. This module gives you a clear understanding of your responsibilities to the safety and welfare of the children in your care and the procedures to follow for reporting concerns that may occur during your work as a childcare practitioner. 

Additional Curricular Activities

Through-out the programme, you will be made aware of events occurring within the early years sector that could provide additional learning for you. There are also organised guest lectures and field trips and you are encouraged to attend and participate on these extra-curricular activities to broaden your knowledge.

Assessment Criteria

Collection of work, Practical Skills Demonstration, Modular Exams, Reflective Practice Journal

Protection for Learners

QQI have introduced a mandatory insurance protection policy fee that must be paid by students enrolled on all courses with a duration of 12 weeks or over. This insurance cost is in addition to your course fees. 


Name: Childcare QQI L6

Cost: 4896 Euro

To Book this course, please make a payment of 50 Euro deposit using the Book Now button. Please read and understand both the Terms of Enrolment and Course Payment Information before paying for your course. Details of all our policies as well as refunds, cancellations, installment options and how to pay offline are contained in these two important documents.

Course CodePrice and LocationInfo
Portobello Institute, Dublin 1
  • 08/10/18 - 26/04/19
  • 9.30am -4.30pm
  • Exam fees included

Additional Course Costs

Please read Course Payment Information for full details as to when you will make these additional course payments.

  • Protection for learners insurance fee : €196