Long-awaited Level 3 early years appenticeship standard approved

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The much anticipated Level 3 early years apprenticeship standard has been approved for delivery.

The latest hold-up was with signing off the assessment plan by the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education, the final stage in enabling the Level 3 to be ready for delivery. A version had been in place since September last year.

The new standard will be funded at a higher rate than the existing framework, at £5,000-£6,000.

The approval follows years of delays, political wrangling, the sacking of the initial early years trailblazer group tasked with drawing up the standard, and several versions of the standard being submitted.

Last year, the second early years trailblazer group, led by Busy Bees, resigned from the post. Fay Gibbin, CEO of Busy Bees Training Academy, who chaired the group, claimed the process was not sufficiently employer-led.

A new trailblazer group was set up last year to work on apprenticeship standards at Levels 5 and 6, comprising of nurseries, schools, colleges, training organisations and universities.

However, Busy Bees continued to oversee delivery of the Level 3 standard.

New standard

The new Level 3 Early Years Educator apprenticeship standard, which will ‘typically’ take 18 months to complete, sets out the occupational profile of a learner, what will be expected of them in the role, their abilities and behaviours they must display including:

  • Care and compassion
  • Being team-focused
  • Honesty, trust and integrity
  • Commitment
  • Work in a non-discriminatory way
  • Working practice take into account fundamental British values


A spokesperson for the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFA), said, ‘We are delighted that this important new apprenticeship is now approved for delivery. The sector has been clear about the many pressures it is facing with an ageing workforce and difficulties with hiring a new generation of people to fill the skills gaps.

‘We would like to thank the Trailblazer group led by Busy Bees Childcare and the wider sector for its support during the development and approvals process. A great deal of effort and excellent team work has gone into reaching this stage. 

‘The result is a rigorous and high-quality standard ready to serve the early years sector which will help to revolutionise early years education for employers, young children and workers alike.’

Clare Phizacklea, chief talent officer for Busy Bees, said, 'As a long-term champion of apprenticeships, Busy Bees is delighted to have successfully led the trailblazer group developing the Early Years Educator Level 3 standard to the point of approval for delivery. It has been a long time coming; however, both the group itself and the Department for Education have been in agreement for some time. What is important though is that we have finally reached full agreement.

'We look forward to spearheading its delivery not just in our nurseries up and down the country but across the wider childcare sector through our skills and apprenticeship arm BB Training. I would like to pay tribute to the trailblazer group as a whole but in particular Sandy Silvester, director of operations and Lyndsey Herdman, head of early years, both of whom have played a massive part in the final approval of this exciting new standard in early years education.'

The Early Years Alliance said the approval of the standard couldn't come soon enough in addressing the decline in Level 3 qualified practitioners.

Michael Freeston, director of quality improvement at the Early Years Alliance, said, 'It’s great to hear that the Level 3 apprenticeship standard has finally been approved. This will be a major pathway to the qualifications available to those considering a career in the early years. And it can’t come soon enough; getting these new qualifications online quickly is vital if we are to start seriously addressing the declining numbers of Level 3 qualified practitioners in our workforce.

'It’s no secret that this has been a drawn-out process and it’s thanks to the employers, training and sector experts who have volunteered their time over the last five years to ensure we’ve reached this positive conclusion. The next step now must be to make sure a Level 2 Apprenticeship standard is developed to create a pipeline which supports unqualified childcare staff to progress their careers and enables settings to offer high- quality provision at every level to the young children in their care.'

  • The new standard is available here

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