Alumni profile

Ciara Dillon

PME in Primary Education



Bridgetown National School, Co. Clare


BA Degree in English and Geography, Higher Diploma in Education also in English and Geography, Master’s (MSc) in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)


Vere Foster Prize 

Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College? 

I was teaching in a special school at post-primary level. The students I taught were part of a Youth Encounter programme. I loved my work, but always wanted to teach younger children, at primary school level. Early intervention is key. Hibernia College gave me the flexibility I needed to work around my own three children.

What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME? 

I was a special class teacher at post-primary level. I graduated from NUIG with a BA in English and Geography. I also completed a Higher Diploma in Education in English and Geography. I completed a master’s in Applied Behaviour Analysis from Queens University in Belfast. I taught in a number of settings, as a home tutor to students with ASD, as a special class teacher to students needing social and emotional support, in ASD units, and in mainstream schools.

Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area? 

For my research project, I focused on teachers’ perspectives on how effective the Stay Safe Programme programme is in supporting ‘Personal Safety’ in the wider SPHE curriculum. The area of wellbeing, and personal safety, is so important, particularly in the world we now live in. The mandatory Stay Safe programme is there to supplement the wider Social, Personal and Health Education curriculum. I wanted to ascertain how effective this programme is from the perspectives of teachers, and where the shortfalls were, if any.

Now that you have graduated, what are your plans? 

I am currently in a fixed-term contract, teaching First and Second Class. I am continuing to learn every day, with the support of my principal and co-workers, and am continuing to be a reflective practitioner, always looking for ways to improve personally and professionally.

What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?

It is well worth it. It can be tough at times managing the workload, but I would advise anyone considering a PME to do a timetable at the start, stick to this timetable as much as possible, take time for themselves, and reach out for support if necessary. There are so many supports available. My cohort was a huge support to me, we helped each other out, and I have made friends for life while completing the PME.

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