St Nicholas Montessori College Ireland traces its origins to the late 1940’s when Dr Maria Montessori gave permission to two English women, Margaret Homfray and Phoebe Child, to set up a training centre to teach the Montessori Method in London. This was the first St Nicholas College, and many Irish educators completed their studies there.
In 1970 the St Nicholas Montessori Society of Ireland was founded by Sighle Fitzgerald and a group of like-minded educators. The Irish society ran workshops and evening courses in association with the London training centre for many years in locations throughout Ireland ensuring the further spread of the Montessori Method.
In 1980 the School’s present home, St Nicholas House in Dun Laoghaire was bought, and St Nicholas Montessori College opened its doors. Peggy McClatchie was the first teacher, and Sighle Fitzgerald was Principal and Director of the College. In 1984 the College began delivery of its first course, a two year diploma course awarded by the London centre.
In 1994, the College was granted designated status by Ireland’s National Council for Educational Awards (NCEA), the state approved body for higher education. This enabled the College to design and develop its own higher education diploma and degree programmes in Montessori education corresponding to in line with national and international standards, providing comprehensive training and career opportunities for its learners.
Throughout the 1990s, the College sought and secured state approval for a three year national diploma, a one year follow-on degree programme, and a higher diploma programme for those already holding an undergraduate degree. The one year follow-on degree programme, Level 8 BA Hons in Montessori Education enabled graduates to register under Route 4 with the Teaching Council of Ireland and as a result there are many hundreds of St. Nicholas graduates working throughout the National school system in Ireland in special education settings.
Now with Level 7 and 8 Bachelor Degrees as well as a Level 8 postgraduate Higher Diploma in Arts in Early Years Montessori Education, St Nicholas Montessori College sees graduates employed not only in Ireland, but across the world. These programmes have continued to evolve to reflect developments and best practice in educational methodologies, while at all times complying with changes in national and international educational frameworks.
Today the College is Ireland’s leading provider of Montessori and Early Years professionals and is the first provider of a Bachelor of Education in Montessori launched in 2019. SMSI continues to innovate and transform education in Ireland by seeking to develop new courses to bring Montessori education to a wider audience. “Montessori and Dementia” workshops in collaboration with leading Montessori & Dementia expert, Jennifer Brush, were launched in 2019 as a first step to developing a full Level 6 course.
As St Nicholas Montessori Society continues to develop, and there are other exciting plans in the pipeline for St Nicholas Montessori Schools, the College and Teacher’s Association so that we can continue to Transform Education throughout the world!