Childcare Tutors

Karen HigginsKaren Higgins, Academic Director, Department of Early Years

MEd in Education, BSc (Hons) Psychology, Mont Dip in Ed (Hons)

Karen has over nineteen years’ experience in the delivery and management of first class Childcare courses in education and training. This includes an in-depth, practical knowledge of the Psychology of child development, Management of Early Years Settings (from start-up to operational), Childcare/Montessori Teaching, Lecturing\Teacher Training, curriculum development in-line with industry standards and organisation and management of Early Years training programmes.

Karen has extensive experience navigating, and working with, industry standards bodies. Karen has a Masters Degree in Education and  has completed eight years study in Montessori Pedagogy and Developmental Psychology, leading to an Honours degree in Psychology, with a primary focus on child development. She holds a post-graduate certificate and post-graduate diploma in Professional Studies in Education.

In addition to the above, Karen was also the Chairperson of The Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP) – Dublin Branch (2013 – 2014). ACP is an Association striving to be the representative body of childhood professionals in Ireland. She is a member of the Sub-Training Group of the Dublin City Childcare Committee (DCCCP). The DCCC Sub-Training Group’s remit is to monitor sector progress in relation to Childcare courses/Early Years quality training. In addition, Karen is Chairperson of The Early Childhood Research group, a sub group of the Children’s Research Network for Ireland and Northern Ireland.



David King

Childcare & Montessori Tutor

David King is a tutor in our Montessori and Childcare Department.  David has delivered our Early Childhood Care and Education Level 6 courses and our Early Childhood Care & Education with Montessori Level 6 courses for the past number of years.  He has worked in various Early Childhood Care & Education settings and is a passionate advocate for the benefits of having men work in ECCE.  David has a BA degree from Maynooth University, a Postgraduate Diploma in Montessori Teacher Training (3-6 years), a Diploma in Montessori Teacher Training (6-9 years) and is currently in his final year of studies for his Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education with Sheffield University.  David is also a regular contributor to a number of social media sites concerned with Early Childhood.  As one of a growing number of men in childcare, David brings a unique perspective to the courses he delivers.



GrainneGrainne Schmitz

Childcare & Montessori Tutor

Grainne Schmitz is a Tutor in our Montessori and Childcare Department, where she has worked since 2011. Grainne co-ordinates and delivers our Childcare courses – Early Childhood care and Education with Montessori Level 6 Course, for Full-Time, Part-Time and Distance Learning students. Grainne has extensive experience in the Early Childhood and Montessori sector. She qualified as a Montessori teacher in 1996. From 1999-2005, Grainne established and ran a successful chain of Montessori and Childcare centres, catering for over 140 children and employing over 40 staff. Grainne is currently studying for her BA in Early Childhood Care and Education. Grainne is passionate about educating parents, students and stakeholders regarding the importance of Early Childhood Care and Education, and she continues to both Tutor and work in a pre-school setting.



Dr. Mary O’Kane

Mary originally studied Psychology in the UK, before moving into the area of Early Childhood Education while undertaking her MPhil at Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland. This project investigated the differences between the quality and experiences in ECCE services before and after the implementation of the Preschool Regulations. She was conferred in 2008 with a Doctorate in Education by Dublin Institute of Technology. Her PhD thesis focused on the issues that children in Ireland, and their families, face during the period of transition from preschool to school, and this has become her specialist area. She then went on to complete an 18 month post-doctorate research project with the Centre for Social and Educational Research in DIT, investigating this transition in a cluster of DEIS preschool and primary settings.

She currently teaches on the part-time Honours BA in Early Childhood in NUI Maynooth, and is an Associate Lecturer in Psychology with the Open University. She is a Guest Lecturer, Dublin Institute of Technology for the International Masters in Early Childhood Education and Care, and the MA in Child, Family and Community Studies, and is External Examiner for the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies, Dundalk Institute of Technology.



Patricia Pleass

Patricia is a professional Training Consultant, Tutor and Preschool owner with almost twenty years industry experience in Training and Development. She started her career working in front-line customer service with Aer Lingus, progressing to senior trainer in the Aer Lingus Training Centre where she delivered quality customer care and safety training to front-line staff. While working in Aer Lingus Patricia studied the Pre- Primary and Primary Montessori Method of education. Having realised a love for this method of teaching young children, and after giving birth to twins, Patricia opened a Montessori school in Stillorgan.

Due to the rapid growth and change in the ECCE sector, Patricia commenced studying a degree in Early Childhood, Teaching and Learning in 2011 from which she graduated in Spring of 2014. Patricia joined the tutoring staff of the College of Progressive Education in 2011 and really enjoys teaching and supporting students as they undertake their Early Childhood Courses.