Nursery Management: Qualifications: Level 3 - EYEs open

Monday, March 24, 2014

The new Early Years Educator qualifications will be available from this September, but what courses will be on offer? Karen Faux reports.

The Government's proposals for new Level 3 qualifications were clearly set out in 2013's More Great Childcare report, which was a response to Cathy Nutbrown's review of qualifications in the preceding year.

It outlined that from 2014 onwards all those wanting to train at Level 3 would need to take an Early Years Educator (EYE) course, and that 'only qualifications which meet rigorous criteria set by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) will earn the Early Years Educator title'.

Since then, awarding bodies such as CACHE and City & Guilds have been working hard to develop new awards ready for this September.

At the end of February, the DfE outlined new entry requirements for EYE, designed to raise the bar, whereby all Level 3 practitioners have a minimum grade C GCSE in maths and English. Going forward, they will need to achieve this in order to be Level 3 qualified and count within ratios.

The funding picture is quite complex and the new arrangements are likely to have the greatest impact on mature learners.

For example, any learner receiving Government funding through the Skills Funding Agency or the 24+ Advanced Learning Loan will need the GCSEs in order to embark on the EYE course. However, those learners who are aged 16 to 19, and funded by the Education Funding Agency, will not require the GCSE English and maths grades to begin studying for the EYE, and can work towards getting the GCSEs at the same time.

Where 16- to 19-year-old learners without English and/or maths GCSE at grade C are undertaking EYE, it is hoped they will be offered, and encouraged, to take up GCSEs as part of their Study Programme.

Currently, 16- to 19-year-olds without the grades have to study some form of English and maths as part of Study Programme requirements (irrespective of sector subject area), and this will be a condition of funding from August 2014.


CACHE is fully supporting the Government's Level 3 initiative with the development of a new suite of EYE qualifications.

Janet King, CACHE senior subject specialist, says, 'These qualifications will not only meet the NCTL's requirements but also respond to the requirements of employers and the diverse needs of our training providers.'

According to Ms King, the CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care (EYE) is an 'excellent' route for learners who wish to progress on to higher education or into the workforce.

'Targeted at learners aged 16 to 19, we envisage the qualification will be delivered mainly in a classroom setting,' she says. 'Learners will develop higher level analytical thinking and study skills and be prepared to enter the workforce as EYEs working with children from birth to five years, and with a knowledge of children from five to seven years.'

At the time of going to press, CACHE had submitted the qualification to UCAS, but was still waiting for confirmation of points.

CACHE's new qualifications suite also includes the Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (EYE).

'This qualification meets the full and relevant criteria for the NCTL, and was developed in response to employer and learner needs,' says Ms King. This workforce qualification will not carry UCAS points.

CACHE is keen to ensure that its Level 3 EYE qualifications reflect the priorities of practitioners and employers, and meet the needs of young children.

'As such, all units within these qualifications are mandatory to ensure that they meet, and indeed surpass, the NCTL's criteria,'

says Ms King. 'We have listened carefully to our centres, employers and learners and recognise the importance of reflecting our heritage and influences of the NNEB in developing new qualifications, identified by extensive CACHE research in 2013. The units support holistic teaching and learning and include child development, play, observation, assessment and planning.

'Both EYE level 3 qualifications have NCTL approval, are Ofqual accredited and are on the register of regulated qualifications.'


City & Guilds has also developed two distinct qualifications for the EYE, both of which have been approved by NCTL - the Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Practitioner (EYE) and the Advanced Technical Diploma for the Early Years Practitioner (EYE).

To ensure these are fit for purpose, City & Guilds has worked with a wide range of employers including Bright Horizons, Pre-School Learning Alliance, Hadland Care Group, the Jancett Group and Mama Bear's Day Nursery.

Suzi Gray, national adviser at City & Guilds, says, 'Both the Level 3 Diploma and the Advanced Technical Diploma have been developed in partnership with employers and early years practitioners, tutors and assessors.

'Strong industry collaboration and endorsement helps to ensure learners have the best opportunity of progressing within employment and/or further study.'

Ms Gray believes the Level 3 Diploma will be attractive to those who are already in employment, while its Advanced Technical Diploma has been designed to meet the needs of learners who will enrol on a full-time programme of study before entering employment.

She adds, 'City & Guilds will be hosting a number of information events and places can be booked via the events pages of our website or by contacting our events team.'

These will cover unit content, information about support resources and related CPD.


With confirmation from the DfE that GCSE grade C maths and English are required for mature EYE applicants funded through the SFA or 24+ Advanced Learning Loan, awarding bodies have voiced their concern.

At City & Guilds, Ms Gray says, 'We have long recognised the need for high-quality maths and English training in every sector. However, we still need more clarity about the acceptability of other Level 2 qualifications as well as GCSEs.'

She believes the Government's continued preference for GCSEs risks understating the importance of being able to apply maths and English within the workplace. 'Singling out GCSEs could damage recruitment to the profession, as it would bar potential applicants who have acquired these skills through other channels.

'It might also disadvantage applicants from areas where GCSE is not available,' she says.

Rob Wye, outgoing CACHE chief executive, adds, 'While we recognise the importance of maths and English as a key part of developing a professional workforce for the early years sector, many older learners may not have GCSE maths and English. We note that there is no option to study the GCSEs alongside the Early Years Educator courses, thus excluding these learners from entering the workforce as an EYE.'

With so much hard work having gone into developing the new qualifications, it would indeed be a great shame if they foundered due to lack of applicants.

City & Guilds EYE courses

  • City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Practitioner (EYE) (QCF)

City & Guilds says this is ideal for practitioners who are already in employment and wish to refresh or consolidate their skills. This qualification is one of the main qualifying routes for the EYE. It can also support staff development. Includes 17 mandatory units and 356 guided learning hours.

  • City & Guilds Advanced Technical Diploma for the Early Years Practitioner (EYE) (NQF)

This Advanced Technical Diploma is designed for learners enrolling on full-time programmes with a view to working in the early years sector or progressing on to higher education.

City & Guilds intends to apply for UCAS points for this qualification.

  • Includes nine mandatory units and 540 guided learning hours.
  • Block placements are recommended.

The courses are open for registration in September.

For more information on either the Level 3 Diploma or the Advanced Technical

Diploma from City and Guilds, contact or visit


  • CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care (EYE) (VRQ) This qualification is suitable for a range of learners, either working or wishing to work in early years education and care, but is particularly suited to those wishing to progress to higher education. It includes 27 mandatory units and 643 guided learning hours. The course takes two years to complete. UCAS points have been applied for by CACHE.
  • CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (EYE) (QCF) Aimed at those working, or wishing to work, in early years. This includes 23 mandatory units and 486 guided learning hours. In addition, a minimum of 350 placement hours are required to achieve this qualification. The diploma takes approximately two years to complete.
  • Open for registrations in September. Full details at


Details of the qualifications can be found at:


- City & Guilds, www.cityand


- TechBac,



The CACHE Level 2 Certificate Introduction to Early Years Education and Care (QCF) is part of the awarding organisation's early years suite.

This, CACHE says, has been developed in response to the sector's call for a stepping stone to EYE and will provide a qualification of the highest standard for those who wish to work at Level 2 or progress on to Level 3 and gain an EYE qualification.

City & Guilds is investing in Study Programmes and the TechBac pathway.

The TechBac will be comparable in size and rigour to academic qualifications and is intended to equip learners with skills to take the next step - whether that is a job, an apprenticeship or university.

It is available at Levels 2 and 3, equivalent to GCSEs and A Levels respectively. The TechBac can also be taken as a stand-alone programme of study in its own right.

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