Stacey Forde, Masters in Leadership and Advocacy in Early Years

Can you tell us your name, job title and the course you studied at ATU Sligo?

Stacey Forde, Manager of Galway Childcare Committee, studied both Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Early Childhood Care and Education and most recently studied Master of Arts in Leadership and Advocacy in the Early Years.

Can you share your career path to date?

I began working in an Early Learning and Care (ELC) Service in 2009. I secured this role following on from my second-year work placement with ATU Sligo. I worked here for four years before moving to Galway. I worked in settings in Galway as both room leader and manager. In 2014, I began working as a development officer for Galway Childcare Committee. I have continued to work here since and most recently secured the position of manager.

What does your current role involve?

My role is to lead the staff team to coordinate the implementation of National Childcare Policy at local level on behalf of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY). We support childcare providers to meet their contractual requirements of the DCEDIY funding programmes, to meet Tusla regulations and to develop high quality services. We also support parents to access childcare and work with key stakeholders at local level.

What motivated you to start studying?

Once I began working in the sector, I knew I wanted to go further with my studies. I knew a Master’s would benefit my chances of progressing in my career.

Why did you choose this course from ATU Sligo?

I chose to complete this course due to its flexibility and accessibility when working full time. Another motivating factor for choosing this course was that I had seen many other graduates before me secure successful positions in the sector.

How did you find the process of studying online? What elements did you find helpful? Were there elements you found challenging?

I found the process of studying online extremely user friendly when working full time. The lectures were easy to access and the lecturers were available to respond to any questions. The lectures were also recorded which made it easy to go back and listen. It created the opportunity for me to manage my studies at a pace that suited me. I didn’t find any elements challenging but self-motivation and self-discipline are important when it comes to online learning.

In terms of your employer, were they supportive of your decision to study? Were there elements of the course that were particularly relevant to your current employer?

Yes, my employer was very supportive of the decision to study. The course was very practical, and all elements of the course were relevant to my area of work.

What advice would you have for anyone considering studying online?

It is a great way to achieve your qualification in an accessible way. The lecturers are really supportive and will work around your needs as much as possible. Just go for it, you won’t regret it.

In what way has studying online with ATU Sligo benefitted your career?

I had just completed this course when the opportunity arose for me to apply for a leadership position. I think it says it in the title ‘Leadership and Advocacy in the Early Years’. I think this course greatly benefitted my career path and I am so happy I chose to take the plunge and complete the course.

Did this course provide any unexpected benefits to your career?

It has provided me with more confidence in my daily work. I had been working in the sector for seven years since I had graduated with my bachelor’s degree. The Early Years Sector is such a fast-paced environment and has changed a lot in that time. It was important for me to upskill and ensure I had access to the most up to date, relevant information.