Level 2 & 3

Qualifications update – October 2021

There has been an update on the government website regarding the guidance for early years qualifications, which you should be aware of. Check early years qualifications – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

It appears that during 2020 and 2021, due to the Coronavirus restrictions, NCFE CACHE and Pearson BTEC gave the option for the level 2 (Early Years Practitioner) and the level 3 (Early Years Educator) qualifications to be completed as ‘knowledge only’ without the need to complete the work placement competencies. As such, the CACHE and Pearson BTEC level 2 and level 3 qualifications are not a licence to practice if they have been awarded with ‘knowledge only’ shown on the certificate. There will be an option for learners to update this at a later date by completing their work placement competencies and upgrading their qualification to the full licence to practice.


In April 2019 the Apprenticeship pathway for Early Years Educators changed to the new Apprenticeship Standard.  The apprenticeship typically takes between 18 months to 2 years to complete. Apprentices undertake an end point assessment (EPA) consisting of a knowledge test and a professional discussion in order to complete their apprenticeship.  Further details of the apprenticeship standard can be found at Early years educator / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Level 2

Level 2 courses qualify learners as Early Years Assistants (EYF) and can be included in the staff:child ratio at level 2.  Level 2 practitioners should be encouraged to progress onto level 3 Early Years Educator (EYE) qualifications and supported to complete English and Maths GCSE to grade 4 or Functional Skills level 2 qualifications.

Level 3

Level 3 qualifications must meet the early years educator criteria to enable practitioners to be counted in the staff:child ratio at level 3.  To count in ratios at level 3, staff holding an Early Years Educator (EYE) qualification must also have achieved a suitable level 2 qualification in English and Maths.

NCFE Cache Level 3 Award for Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo)

This level 3 Award for Special Educational Needs Coordinator in an Early Years Settings has been developed in association with the National Association of Special Educational needs (nasen) and the Department of Education (DfE.) This training includes twelve sessions delivered over a 6 month period. This qualification is currently being delivered and funded through the Early Years and Childcare Service (EYCS).  More information can be found at the link SENCo Training – Suffolk Learning

Technical ‘T’ level qualifications

From September 2020, technical or ‘T’ level qualifications will begin to replace the current vocational qualifications.  These level 3 qualifications will take two years to complete and will gradually replace the existing EYE qualifications.  The ‘T’ level for Early Years will be included in the level 3 staff:child ratios in EYFS settings.  Further details about the T levels can be found below.