Remote working allowed this teacher trainer return to live in Ireland
Education consultant Ciara McGuane has clients in the UK, and lives in Ennis. Here’s how she does it . . .
Ciara McGuane works remotely, allowing her to return to live in Ireland while retaining her career in the UK. Photograph: Domnick Walsh
Working Abroad Q&A: Each week, Irish Times Abroad meets an Irish person working in an interesting job overseas. This week, in a slight change from usual, Ciara McGuane on how working remotely allowed her to return to Ireland, while continuing in her career in the UK.
What do you do?
I am an education consultant with TES Institute in the UK and Rathú in Ireland. The TES Institute is a global leader in teacher training and online professional development courses. Rathú is a recently launched professional development provider for Irish teachers. Rathú provides face-to-face and online courses for teachers and schools.
When did you leave Ireland?
I moved to London in January 2008. I just wanted a bit of an adventure to be honest. I gave myself two options, which were to move to London or Sydney. I made a list of pros and cons for each and London won.
Did you make the move alone or with others?
I moved alone, but I was lucky to have a few friends living in the Irish stomping ground of Cricklewood, so I was able to get set up with accommodation. It was daunting to live in such a big and bustling city, but exhilarating at the same time. I will never forget my first day working there, getting off the tube at London Bridge station, picking up a coffee and walking along the river with Tower Bridge to my left. It was an exciting time.
You’re back living in Ireland, when did you return and where are you now based?
I returned to Ireland in June 2016 with my husband Tiago. Our son, Matteo, was born in October 2016. We are based in Ennis, Co Clare.
Tiago and I had contemplated moving to Ireland for a number of years prior to making our final decision to go for it. There were quite a few “will we, won’t we” discussions in the run up to 2016. We had researched different options and what might be feasible for us in terms of location and employment opportunities.
We had a nice life in London, with lovely friends and good careers. But we loved the quality of life that Ireland had to offer, as well as having family close by. In the end, it was an impulsive, gut decision that prompted the return to Ireland. We said we would try it for a year and see how we got on.
You have continued your work as a teacher trainer and mentor in the UK. How does that work?
When I was in the UK, as well as working in school, I worked as a self-employed education consultant. Part of that role involved visiting teachers in schools, observing lessons, offering support, feedback and advice.
As well as that, I supported teachers via distance learning. They are required to undertake tasks and reflective assignments. I have been able to continue with the online element of this work as it can be done remotely.
Where do your clients come from?
I work with teachers and schools all over the UK and I have worked with one or two in the Middle East.
Have you had to adapt your work practices to facilitate working in this way?
Like any role, I have deadlines that I need to adhere to and expectations of me in a professional capacity. So even though I am not in a typical work environment, it is important that I am organised, disciplined and balance my time between this role in the UK and the work I do with Rathú in Ireland.
Does working remotely present any challenges?
I enjoy the buzz of working face-to-face with teachers and I love observing lessons and supporting teachers grow and develop their practice. With remote working, it can feel disconnected at times. However, there is a huge growth in online learning and development for teachers, here in Ireland and globally. It enables them to balance learning with their already busy lives.
Has your business expanded or grown since you returned home?
There is huge growth in this area – teachers are actively seeking professional development opportunities. For example, with budgets being cut in the UK, more and more schools are exploring this option for their staff.
In Ireland, online learning is already an established pathway for teachers. However, there is a gap in terms of face-to-face professional development – which is crucial in CPD [continued professional development] as strategies and activities can be modelled and showcased.
This is why I launched Rathú in September 2017. We won ‘Best New Idea’ at county level in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition in December. Since then, we have had huge interest in our courses, so we are branching out nationwide. We hope to launch our online learning platform this summer.
Do you think the changing digital landscape in Ireland offers possibilities such as this to other Irish people currently working abroad?
Yes, absolutely. I know a few other people who work in a similar capacity, so it is something that people are looking at and considering. There are more and more companies in Ireland which are forward-thinking and looking at the bigger picture of how they can retain staff. So even if your job is in Dublin, you may not need to live there if it is possible to do it remotely. Let’s just hope we get the rural broadband sorted.
If you work in an interesting job overseas and would like to share your experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a little information about yourself and what you do.