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 people completed courses 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 College’s present home, St Nicholas House in Dun Laoghaire was bought, and St Nicholas Montessori School 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 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. 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.
Currently the College’s programmes are accredited by QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland), the public body which continues the accreditation role formerly undertaken by NCEA. The College’s undergraduate programmes now lead to degrees at level 7 and level 8 on Ireland’s National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), with the College’s Higher Diploma being placed at level 8.
These programmes are delivered from the College’s centres in Dun Laoghaire, Cork and Limerick, with students attending programmes on both a full-time and a part-time basis.
In 2012 240 students graduated from the College’s accredited programmes continuing the strong tradition of Montessori education as a basis for the holistic development of children for many years to come.