Meet the Faces Behind Ireland’s Curriculum Developments

In this issue of info@ncca, we introduce you to two of the staff who work on curriculum and assessment developments in NCCA. Get to know their stories, passions, and journeys that have led them to where they are today.

23 October, 2023

Meet the Faces Behind Ireland’s Curriculum Developments

Mary Daly, Education Officer

Mary lives in Co Tipperary, nestled between the Galtee and the Knockmealdown mountains. Mary is part of the Early Childhood Team in NCCA where, along with her colleagues, she has championed early childhood education for more than 15 years.

Mary’s first role in NCCA was as part of the team that developed Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework way back in 2009 and has been known to say that Aistear is like her fourth child. Mary also worked on the Aistear Toolkit. Later she worked on the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide, an online resource building on the Toolkit to support engagement with Aistear and Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (CECDE, 2006). Between 2016 and 2018 her work focused on transitions and resulted in the development of the Mo Scéal Reporting templates.

At present Mary is working on updating Aistear. Mary hopes that in updating the Framework it will be as good as it can possibly be for babies, toddlers and young children.

From 1996 to 1999 Mary undertook a BA in Early Childhood Studies in University College Cork as a mature student. In 2001 she completed a PhD in 2002 focusing on the emotional, social, moral and spiritual development of the young child. 

Mary is passionate about all things early childhood, but her particular interests include the importance of nurturing the learning and development of babies as well as the focus of her PhD on wellbeing. She is also keen on (some might even say fanatical) about the critical importance of good quality, holistic curriculum experiences throughout early childhood.

During COVID-19 Mary welcomed a new addition to her family, Pedro, her much loved pooch.

Siobhán Keenan Fitzgerald, Education Officer

Siobhán lives in Co Galway and has been an Education Officer (EO) with NCCA since 2022, currently working across Primary Developments. Previously, she had contributed to the Primary Language Curriculum toolkit and recent webinars on Outdoor Education. Her school also took part in NCCA’s consultation on ERB and Ethics. Siobhán has taught in Japan, Switzerland, France, Saudi Arabia and, most recently, served as Teaching Principal of DCU Changemaker School, Eglish NS.

Siobhán loves working with NCCA’s Schools Forum having experienced first-hand through her school’s participation in the forum, the benefits of coming together with other primary and post-primary school teachers, school leaders and preschool practitioners to help shape the redevelopment of the primary curriculum.

With a Masters in Intercultural Education and a PhD on Public Speaking in Primary School, it is no surprise that although self-described as ‘very shy’, Siobhán loves to travel and speak. She particularly loves facilitating deep discussions, not only at NCCA’s Schools Forum meetings but also amongst various education stakeholders at the ‘Reimagining Curriculum’ series of seminars. Her own passion is for empowering child voice. She is grateful to be part of NCCA’s Primary team collaborating with Hub na nÓg to consult with children on the Primary Curriculum Framework curriculum areas. The best thing about her job, she claims, is “being a part of real, meaningful change”.

Recipient of the 2017 IPPN Leadership award, Siobhán’s professional interests are education and leadership but personally, public speaking, writing and dance enthuse her. A 2-time TEDx Speaker, she tells us she has won (and lost even more) public speaking competitions nationally and internationally. A member of Toastmasters since 2004 and creator of ‘LET’s Stand’ Public Speaking programme, she loves empowering others to share their ideas and stories. 

Siobhán is looking forward to observing her grandchildren (someday) benefit from the new primary curriculum. She hopes that they will be seen, heard, celebrated and more fully self-expressed than children ever were before. Siobhán loves to dance when nobody is watching and harbours a secret (oops not so secret anymore) dream of one day learning from the professionals, as in ‘Dancing with the Stars’. Perhaps when she retires.