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Professional Resources

Professional qualifications

The different levels of qualifications in the childcare sector and information on where you can access courses and support.

Professional Qualifications and Funding

Children develop rapidly in their early years and a child’s experiences between birth and age five will have a major impact on their future life chances. Good parenting and high quality early learning, that gives children a broad range of knowledge, skills and understanding, together provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.

It is therefore vital the early years workforce is well-qualified with the appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to deliver high quality early education and childcare for children from birth to age five. 

On 3 March 2017 the Government published the Early Years Workforce Strategy and the Level 3 early years educator: numeracy and literacy requirements

The immediate change, reiterated in the revised Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, effects practitioners who hold or are undertaking an Early Years Educator qualification:-

With effect from 3 April 2017 the current English and mathematics (GCSE A-C) requirement for level 3 Early Years Educators (EYE), including for apprenticeships, will now include Functional Skills (Literacy and Numeracy at Level 2). This will enable staff with an EYE qualification and level 2 English and mathematics qualifications to count in the level 3 staff:child ratios. This change will impact anyone who already holds an EYE qualification, began studying an EYE since September 2014 or takes up an EYE in the future.

This will help recruitment and retention of the workforce, including childcare apprentices, whilst ensuring that staff have the skills they need to support children and communicate effectively.

The quality of early years provision in England is impressive with 93% of settings rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding in 2017 compared to 74% in 2012. Key to this is a well-qualified workforce with 79% of group based staff in 2017 holding at least a level 3 qualification relevant to childcare and 29% at least a level 6.

Evidence clearly shows that settings which employ more highly qualified staff are more likely to attract a good or outstanding rating from Ofsted. We also know that the quality of staff is particularly important for supporting the development of disadvantaged children.

The gap between the development of disadvantaged children and their peers at age 5 is currently 4.3 months. Over the next 11 years of full-time education, this will worsen; the Education Policy Institute estimates how the gap grows from age 5 to 16:

  • there is a 4.3 month gap at the start of school between disadvantaged children and their classmates;
  • this more than doubles to 9.5 months by the end of primary school; and
  • then more than doubles again, to 19.3 months, by the end of secondary school

Much work is therefore needed to ensure all children receive the best start in life.

For detailed information and guidance at each qualification level please click on the buttons at the top of this page on the left hand side. To help choose your training provider have a look through our guidance leaflets:

If you choose to go with a training provider who does not appear on this list, please email to double check this trainer and qualification. Sadly there are many training companies who claim to offer Level 3 qualifications which are in fact NOT full and relevant in terms of delivering the EYFS and they WILL NOT count as a Level 3 in terms of ratios.

2018 local training providers

Lists of qualifications that meet the DfE criteria for counting in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework staff:child ratios for pre-September 2014 and from 1 September 2014

Please also take a look at our Key questions checklist PDF to support you in selecting a training provider. If you require any support or assistance, please email

Key questions checklist

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