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Alumni profile

Rachel O’Brien

PME in Post-Primary Education



Mount Anville


Masters in Drama


Overall Student of the Year

Why did you choose teaching & why Hibernia College?

I have always been passionate about literature and the arts and I also really enjoy discussing and debating them, so teaching was the ideal avenue for this. Working with young people has always appealed to me, they possess an energy that can be lost in adulthood and this can make the classroom a very live environment, which allows for dynamic teaching and learning to take place. Having worked full time for two years following my undergraduate degree and initial Master’s degree I knew I did not want to return to the typical university environment. I researched all of the PME courses available in Ireland and Hibernia was the perfect option. Being a student of Hibernia allowed me to learn remotely and at a pace that suited and yet still feel like I was part of a wider learning community. The course was broken down into easily digestible modules which were all accessible on a very user-friendly site.

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

I graduated with a Masters in Drama from the University of Kent in 2014 and rather go straight into my PME, I decided to work for a couple of years before diving back into study. I moved to London for two years and worked as a classroom assistant in two schools in London to gain some classroom experience and supplemented this with bar work and nannying. I’m glad I decided to take a break from study and experience an actual classroom, as it affirmed I was making the right decision by pursuing teaching professionally. It was following this that I decided it was time to move back to Dublin and apply for Hibernia.

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

My first love has always been drama and for me the research project was the perfect opportunity to marry it with my passion for teaching. The principal aim of my research project was to gain an understanding of the benefits of Drama in Education and the effect it has on promoting inclusivity in the classroom. Drama in Education methodologies have been lauded by educational researchers as to having benefits to not only arts related subjects, but STEM subjects too. As such I wanted to probe whether or not Irish Post-Primary teachers were aware of its benefits and ways in which it could be better promoted. The research uncovered a distinct lack of literature surrounding Drama in Education at second level and also, a complete lack of CPD available to Post-Primary teachers in the area. Another significant finding of the research was the lack of knowledge surrounding the benefits of Drama in Education to all curricular subjects. I hope that further research in the area will encourage more teachers to utilise Drama in Education in their classrooms and see first-hand the positive benefits it has on creating a more inclusive environment.

Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?

I was delighted to accept a job offer from Mount Anville Secondary School in August of this year. I work as both an English and Special Education Teacher in the school and am thoroughly enjoying every minute of it! I am also embracing my love of arts within the school and run extra-curricular activities such as poetry, drama and debating. I am very keen to continue my research around the benefits of drama and arts education on the Post-Primary curriculum and hope to apply for doctorate study in a couple of years. Having been exposed to the flexibility of part-time study thanks to Hibernia, I hope to complete a doctorate part-time too in order to be able to continue teaching full time.

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

Completing my PME was the best decision I have ever made. Whilst it may seem daunting returning to study, it can be made incredibly manageable by taking on a part-time course, like those offered by Hibernia. If you have the itch to teach don’t wait around, go to a PME open day and start exploring your options and if the end result is anything like mine, I can promise you it is so rewarding.

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