Programme Aim

This one-year course is designed for learners wishing to work independently and under supervision in a range of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) settings including Special Needs Assisting (SNA) settings and/or to progress to higher education and training. Students can successfully pursue a career in Early Childhood Care and Education and become a fully qualified SNA.

In a supportive classroom environment our learners in North Connaught College of Further Education, Tubbercurry, Sligo become familiar with the skills and competencies essential for working in the early childcare sector. They also study developmental theories as they apply to early childhood and experience opportunities to express their own creative abilities in a nurturing learning environment.

This award will provide learners with opportunities to transfer and progress to programmes leading to higher education and training awards.

Students will gain knowledge in:

  • Child Development
  • Childhood, Social, Legal and Health Studies
  • Early Childhood Curriculum
  • Special Needs Assisting
  • Creative Studies for Special Needs
  • Communications.

Work Experience is also a core feature of the ECCE and Special Needs Assisting programme with students spending time in a childcare setting, enhancing employability.

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Programme Progression

Upon completion of the course at North Connaught College, some of the options available are:

• Work as a childcare Worker in a variety of ECCE settings
• Go on to work in a supervisory capacity in a variety of ECCE settings or open their own childcare business
• Progress to third level education
• Pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education (with the option of progressing to Primary School Teaching, Montessori Teaching or Special Needs Teaching)
• Specialise in Special Needs Education and pursue a career as a Special Needs Assistant or a Special Education Needs Teacher.

Entry Requirements

Education: The learner who has either successfully completed a programme leading to a Level 5 QQI Certificate OR can demonstrate the levels of knowledge, skill and competence associated with NFQ Level 5 will be eligible for entry to this programme.

Aptitude: It is expected that the successful applicant must have motivation to learn, an interest in childcare and demonstrate a broad range of knowledge, skills and competencies relevant to the course and be able to exercise initiative and independence when carrying out practical activities.

Previous Experience: Applicants must be able to demonstrate a broad range of knowledge, skills and competencies relevant to the course and be able to exercise initiative and independence when carrying out course activities.

Course Content

Title Award Awarding Body
Child Development (6N1942) QQI
Early Childhood Curriculum (6N1944) QQI
Special Needs Assisting (6N1957) QQI
Work Experience (6N1946) QQI
Communications (6N1950) QQI
Creative Studies For Special Needs (6N1972) QQI
Childhood Social Legal & Health Studies Level 6 (6N1945) QQI

Further Details

Below is a more detailed description of each of the Components

Child Development

This module is designed to allow the learner further reflection on child development theories and their application on ECCE practice. The learner gets to explore the effects of a range of genetic, social, cultural and environmental factors on the holistic development of the child and research a range of theoretical perspectives in the field of behaviour management in support of the holistic development of the child. At the end of this module learners comfortably can create a variety of detailed observations in support of programme planning for individual and groups of children using a range of tools.

Childhood Social, Legal and Health Studies

This programme module aims to equip the learner with child protection guidance in relation to the protection of children and staff, statutory regulations and national practice guidelines which relate directly to and impact on early childhood care and education settings. The learner will learn to evaluate a range of factors influencing and impacting on children’s health and wellbeing to include family structure, community, culture, education, health, social services and social status. This module allows the student to examine national and international social policy and how it impacts on the wellbeing of children and families. Learners get the opportunity to critically reflect on how personal cultural identity attitudes and values can potentially impact on bias, discrimination and prejudice within ECCE settings.

Early Childhood Curriculum

This programme module aims to equip the learner with the ability to critically reflect on the contributions of a range of early childhood educational theorists to pedagogical practice study the role of the adult in supporting children’s learning and development. It also allows for reflection on own attitudes, values and beliefs and their impact on the learning environment.

Special Needs Assisting

This module is designed to familiarise the learner with the education provision for children with additional needs in Ireland and to examine interventions and design activities for children with special educational needs. It will also familiarise the learner with curriculum implementation for children with additional needs.

Creative Studies for Special Needs

The overall aim of this module is to familiarise the learner with the benefits of creative arts to the individual child across all domains of development and to organise a comprehensive range of creative activities to aid the development of the individual with special educational needs.


This is one of the most important modules, whether in the workplace or in a college environment. It is essential to be able to transfer knowledge in a clear, concise way and also to be aware of the different types of communication (verbal and non-verbal). The module covers both written and practical aspects of communication i.e. presentations, group interaction and gives learners the opportunity to practice and gain confidence in making presentations, for example presenting new ideas that would benefit workers in their vocational area.

Work Experience

Students will find work placement in a suitable childcare setting where they will apply their skills including demonstrating the ability to work in a supervisory capacity. Work experience classes will prepare the student to apply for this work placement, and future work, by focusing on interview preparation. Students will assess their skills and qualities to produce a CV and cover letter and also focus on interview preparation. They will investigate their employment sector and identify job openings and future training opportunities. The placement reinforces the skills learned at North Connaught College and aids the development of employability/transferable skills.