Courses in

Nursing Health Sciences and Social Care

GMIT Mayo Campus

Higher Certificate in Arts in Early Childhood Education and Care

A Level 6 two year full-time course for those interested in a career in Early Childhood Education and Care

Discipline: Nursing Health Sciences and Social Care

Programme Code: 


Location: Mayo

NFQ Level: 6

Programme Duration: Two years

Mode of Study: Full time

Application Route: Apply through the CAO

Entry Requirements: See "Other Essential Information"

Places: 30

CAO Round 1 Points: 160 (2020)

Why Study?

GMIT Mayo campus in Castlebar, County Mayo offers a contemporary and dynamic approach to professional preparation in the early years sector.

This two year Higher Certificate of Arts award is designed to provide learners with a comprehensive education in Early Childhood Education and Care.

The focus of the course is the study of the play, development and learning of children from birth to six years old in a sociocultural context and the implications this has for practice in early childhood settings. It emphasises the links between theory and practice, and highly values the development of professional and academic skills and knowledge.

This course aims to equip the learner with knowledge, skills and competencies required for autonomous working practice in Early Childhood Education and Care.

A child-led transformational philosophy will underpin the programme to build authentic reciprocal relationships with children, parents, colleagues, the community and other professionals.

The course is based on the contemporary principles of best practice as determined by Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (2006) and Aistear, The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (2009).


Opportunity to study for semester in Ontario, Canada

It is proposed that the Early Childhood Education and Care students will have an opportunity to study a semester in Ontario in the second year of their course while students from Niagara College will also be able to study in GMIT Mayo in the third and/or fourth year of the L7 (Ordinary) and L8 (Hons) coursers respectively.


Advanced Entry

Direct entry into Year 2 is available for learners who have completed QQI (FE) at Level 6 in Early Childhood Education and Care.

The Early Childhood Education and Care degree will equip you to implement effective practice with children and families in a range of situations based on the work of researchers at the forefront of the field. 

As a team we are passionately committed to empowering and inspiring learners to make transformational changes to their own lives and to the lives of children, families and communities. We value learners' individual experiences and existing knowledge and embrace a diversity of opinions. The programme encourages learners to engage in continuous critical reflection and analysis.

Visit our Admissions page where you can apply under "Advanced Entry".

Applied Learning

A unique feature of this Higher Certificate is that work practice placement is an integral part of each week with learners out on placement 12 hours per week for the duration of the higher certificate.

This ensures there is a strong emphasis on merging theory with practice. Work placement allows learners to have extensive opportunities for hands-on learning through supervised work practice placement.

The process of reflective practice establishes the foundation for observation, which is an essential element in meeting the developmental needs of children. This in turn facilitates curriculum planning, assessment, conducting research and analysing the results.

Programme Modules

Our programme at GMIT is a tiered system that builds on the expertise gained at each preceding level.

Learners can focus on individual areas of interest as they progress through the programme.

There is a specific focus on building a strong foundation amongst learners to lead excellence in pedagogical practices within early childhood settings. Assessment is continuous in nature and includes assignments, project work as well as work placement practice.

With an emphasis on the knowledge, skills, practices, and values inherent in contemporary understandings of best practice in early childhood education, you will be well positioned to work with children and families in an array of early years centres.

Work practice placement is an integral part of each year.

Year 1
It begins with a first year introduction to child development and psychology, with a particular emphasis on play, creativity, relationships, curricula, pedagogy, health and wellbeing.

Year 2
Topics include working which children under 3, sociology, enquiry with young children, diversity and equality, early childhood law, learning environments and research with children.

Career Opportunities

Career Opportunities

There is growing recognition that Early Childhood Education and Care is a distinctive specialty with its own career pathways.

It will offer enhanced employability within the rapidly professionalising sector, furthermore, the Higher Certificate will offer graduates a career in the Early Childcare sector and opportunities to progress to BA in Arts in Early Childhood Education and Care Level 7 and BA in Arts (Hons) in Early Childhood Education and Care Level 8.


Follow-on Studies: 

The course is designed to attract both school-leavers, mature learners and international learners and is designed for people working towards careers in services for children, young people and their families.

It caters for the demand for highly qualified early years and childhood professionals, while also developing future researchers in the field.

Essential Information: 

Entry Requirements:

1. New entrants to the sector for QQI level 6
1.1. Grade 06/H7 or better in five Leaving Certificate subjects including English or Irish and Mathematics and a minimum of 160 points.
1.2. Foundation Certificate or any QQI Level 5 award.
1.3. Mature applicant students in accordance with GMIT policy.

2. Entry to Stage 2
2.1 Direct application to GMIT
Existing Early Years Educators with QQI (FE) Level 6 relevant to ECEC.



Practice Development

Practice development is an integral part of the BA in Early Childhood Education and Care.

Our learners undertake 12 hours practice development per week, in an Early Years setting, which allows you to apply what you have learned in a real-world environment.

Garda vetting is required.

Study Environment

The college campus is situated in the centre of Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

The town has a wide range of shops, bars, restaurants, a cinema and several other leisure opportunities.

Our campus building is a charming mixture of old and new and there are around 800 learners.

Our campus is known and loved for its friendly and informal atmosphere, which is highly appreciated by our learners. Teaching methods include:

  • Lectures
  • Group work
  • Learner presentations
  • Project oriented learning

The campus offers learners opportunities to join a wide range of clubs and societies, exploring and participating in many interests.

GMIT Clubs and Societies promote community and learner involvement and gives learners an opportunity to meet like-minded people and have fun!

Contact Us

Joanne Doherty
Lecturer, Early Childhood Education and Care

Phone: +353 (0) 94 9043117