Working in the Childcare Sector: how to progress your career
The Award in an Introduction to Early Years Settings course is a CACHE Level 1 qualification. This
practical course offers a perfect introduction to working in the early learning and childcare sector.
Aimed at new and/or unqualified staff and parents/carers helping in group setting, it is provided
over 30 hours. If you are not already working at a childcare setting, it is helpful to visit one while
you are studying. Your local pre-school could advise about this and also whether funding is
available through the local authority to pay course fees.
Aged 16 or over?
An apprenticeship scheme offers a programme of training to provide learners with the skills,
knowledge and qualifications needed to work in the sector and may be ideal for you. These are
available for young people and for more mature people over 25.
An apprenticeship will provide either the Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s
Workforce or the Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce. You will need to
undertake a workplace skills assessment. You will also be required to take part in training and
achieve the specified qualifications in literacy, numeracy and first aid.
During the apprenticeship it is a requirement that you have a contract of employment. You may be
employed in a specific apprentice placement and paid the apprenticeship wage, or you may be
already employed in a setting and earning a wage for your work.
More and more settings are supporting apprenticeships in early learning and childcare. It is an
excellent way to learn and train while working. More information can be found at
Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s Workforce
All childcare providers registered with Ofsted require half of the staff to be qualified to Level 2. This
CACHE Level 2 qualification is ideal for anyone who is keen to work as an assistant in an early
The course duration is 350 hours, 180 of which are classroom hours. The remaining hours spent in
independent study, practising skills in the setting or being assessed. You would also need to
ensure that you are able to work in an early years setting for at least 150 hours while studying.
Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce
This qualification would enable you to work at a supervisory level in an early years setting as a
leader, manager or deputy. It is possible that, in some settings, you will need some post
qualification experience too.
The Diploma is a 650 hour award, with 240 classroom hours and the remaining hours spent in
independent study, practicing skills in the setting or being assessed. It covers both theoretical
knowledge and practical skills required to organise and administer a pre-school.
The Certificate and Diploma have elements that are common to other qualifications in the
children’s workforce and this will enable greater flexibility and opportunities for progression. The
Certificate and Diploma courses are run at centres and colleges countrywide and are sometimes
funded by bursaries from the local authority’s Children’s Services Departments. Many employers
also fund these courses and allow day release to attend college.
There is no need to stop at Level 3. On successful completion of the Level 3 award, the next step
on the progression route is to degree level. Early Years Foundation Degrees are widely available
and can often be funded with local authority bursaries.
Once a Foundation Degree is achieved the next move would be to take further study at higher level
to convert the foundation degree into a full undergraduate degree.
The last stage in the progression route is to achieve Early Years Professional Status. There are a
number of routes to achieve this and this is fully explained on the CWDC’s website
Returning to work
If you are considering returning to work after a break and you have qualifications but you are not
sure if they are still relevant, it is definitely worth looking to see if they are still accepted in early
years settings. You can consult the database of recognised qualifications on the CWDC website
Whatever your background or current qualifications, there are many routes into the early learning
and childcare sector, as well as opportunities for building a rewarding and fulfilling career.
Enrolling on a qualification
To find out more about the qualifications being offered by the Pre-school Learning Alliance in your
area, please visit www.pre-school.org.uk/practitioners/training or contact your local Alliance
East Division T. 01954 232 327 E. email@example.com
North Division T. 0113 252 2848 E. firstname.lastname@example.org
South Division T. 020 7697 2599 E. email@example.com
West Division T. 0121 643 0063 E. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any queries or need help getting started, contact the Information Service team at
email@example.com or on 020 7697 2595.
The Pre-school Learning Alliance is a leading educational charity specialising in the early years.
We provide practical support to over 15,000 early years settings and make a positive contribution
to the care and education of over 800,000 young children and their families each year. We actively
involve parents and families in all aspects of our work. Our products and services include specialist
publications, childcare services, quality assurance, campaigning, research, training and family
programmes. We also offer a range of independent professional information, advice, support and
guidance tailored especially to meet the needs of young children and their families, students, early
years practitioners and professionals.
If you would like to find out more about our work or you wish to make any comments about our
products or services, please do get in touch.
Pre-school Learning Alliance
The Fitzpatrick Building
188 York Way
London N7 9AD
T: 020 7697 2595
F: 020 7697 8607