Building Foundations through Further Education

Image of a person. Our Further Education and Training (FET) Service supports thousands of people each year to achieve their career dreams and goals. In this blog, one of our former childcare students, Shannon Shelby Driscoll, who has recently qualified as a teacher, tells us more about her learning journey in this blog.

Before starting this course with Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB), I had been working in hospitality for a few years as I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I finished school. But I eventually wanted to get back into education, so I decided to apply for this Level 5 childcare course as I was unsure of committing to something for three or four years as I was used to earning an income full-time.

The course at the time was full on as I hadn’t had much academic writing experience. It was interesting, knowledgeable, and prepared me for university. In the course we covered communications, first aid, work experience and psychology to name a few. I loved the theory side to the course which related to psychology.

Part of the course required us to undertake a work placement. I completed my work placement in a creche, and this gave me the opportunity to put into practice the new information I had learned. I really enjoyed the placement, but it made me realise that this wasn’t exactly the area I wanted to work in, highlighting that this was another reason why completing the course was such a great opportunity.

After I completed my Level 5 Early Childhood Care and Education qualification in 2017, I lived in Australia for a year and was able to work as a Special Needs Assistant as the qualification is recognised in many different countries.

I then wanted to obtain a Level 6 Childcare qualification so when I returned home, I was able to transfer into the second year of a degree at ATU Sligo. This was a three-year degree, but I just wanted to keep on learning and decided to do an extra year and I completed my four-year Level 8 Honours degree, graduating in November 2022.

I then moved to Birmingham to complete my teacher training School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). I went down this route as it is four days a week in school teaching – this route of teaching is hands on which is exactly how I started with my work experience with my Level 5 Childcare. I qualified in July this year (2023).

Without the Level 5 course with Donegal ETB, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today. It gave me academic confidence to start writing assignments again, it provided me with a routine and gave me an opportunity to decide whether this was the career I wanted to get into whilst providing me with a qualification. It was a pathway back into education and the drive to go further. I still talk to two of the girls I completed the course with weekly and am lucky enough to call them my friends for life.

I couldn’t recommend further education and training with Donegal ETB enough as it provides a great way back into education, to further education or to get a job.

I will never forget the course I completed and where I started, it was the foundation for everything that I have since completed.

My advice to anyone would be do a course no matter what level it is, as you are educating yourself and it will give you a lot more opportunities in life.  It is important to know that we have all started somewhere and to be confident in your ability.