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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Level 2 Qualifications in Early Years Education and Childcare

A Level 2 qualification allows you to work with children under supervision. Under the Early Years Foundation Stage, at least one member of staff in a setting must hold a relevant level 3 childcare qualification and at least half of all other staff working with children must hold a “full and relevant” childcare qualification at Level 2 or above. You can check whether a Level 2 qualification is “full and relevant” here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eyfs-staffchild-ratios-dfe-approved-qualifications.

Level 2 qualifications are seen as a progression route to Level 3. From September 2019 new Level 2 qualifications have been badged “early years practitioner” to show that they are based on criteria [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-practitioner-level-2-qualifications-criteria] setting out the minimum knowledge, understanding and skills that a Level 2 early years practitioner needs to demonstrate. Use of the “early years practitioner” title indicates the qualification is full and relevant.

All Level 2 early years practitioner qualifications require candidates to demonstrate skills, knowledge and understanding in the following areas:

  • Knowledge of child development
  • Safeguarding
  • Health and Safety
  • Wellbeing
  • Communication
  • Support the planning of and deliver activities, purposeful play opportunities and educational programmes
  • Support children with special educational needs and disabilities
  • Own role and development
  • Working with others – parents, colleagues and other professionals


This qualification is the current “license to practice” at Level 2. Available from BIIAB; City & Guilds; ICQ; Innovate Awarding; NCFE CACHE; Pearson; Skillsfirst; TQUK


Apprenticeships are on-the-job learning. Many nursery chains see them as a way of ‘growing their own’ talent by employing people on apprenticeship contracts, training and mentoring them and then offering them a job with the company. Apprenticeships include a qualification at the relevant level, as well as other qualifications such as those in literacy and numeracy. Apprentices must spend 20 per cent of their employment hours in off-the-job training, which can include studying, practical training such as shadowing, and time to write assignments.

The apprenticeship system is moving from a framework to a standards-based model with new rules for funding and assessment. Under the previous system, apprentices were informally assessed on-the-job, but now they must undertake an assessment with an external examiner from an independent company at the end of their course.  A standards-based EARLY YEARS PRACTITIONER LEVEL 2 APPRENTICESHIP launched in 2020. As part of the apprenticeship students will gain a Level 2 Diploma for the Early Years Practitioner. They must also hold Level 1 qualifications in English and maths, and will have to take the tests for Level 2 English and maths before the end-point assessment, if they don’t already have them.

For more information on Apprenticeships, visit the Institute for Apprenticeships &  Technical Education: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/

Between 1 September 2014 and 31 August 2019

Staff who completed or registered for a qualification between 1 September 2014 until 31 August 2019  must hold a qualification that meets the government’s “full and relevant criteria” in order to count towards staff:child ratios. The government says all level 2 early years qualifications from this period are full and relevant if they are related to early years (0 to 5) and cover childcare and child development for the 0 to 5 age range. They must also be included on Ofqual’s list of regulated qualifications.


Before September 2014

Staff who completed or registered for a qualification before 1 September 2014 must hold a qualification that meets the government’s “full and relevant criteria” in order to count towards staff:child ratios. These include some teaching assistant and playwork qualifications. Check the list here: [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eyfs-staffchild-ratios-dfe-approved-qualifications]. The title of the qualification on the spreadsheet has to match exactly the title on the qualification certificate.


For more information on early years Level 2 qualifications, see http://www.education.gov.uk/eypqd/level2.shtml

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