Childcare qualifications

The Early Years Foundations Stage Statutory Framework sets out the requirements for early years staff qualifications. There are a range of training courses and providers available. In order to be able to count in the staff to child ratios within an early years setting you must ensure that all qualifications are deemed full and relevant by the Department for Education. For the latest information and to check qualifications please see Early Years qualification list. There are Level 2 and Level 3 Early Years Educator qualifications and Foundation degree and higher education qualifications available

If you need any advice just email the Early Years Educational Effectiveness Team:

You can also subscribe to our Early Education and childcare e-bulletin and we'll keep you up to date with our training programme and news about qualifications.

The Skills matrix can be used to identify skills and knowledge for new and existing staff. The Training Cycle framework (PDF) can help you plan, implement, evaluate and review your training.

Page contents

Paediatric first aid

Current guidance in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is that at least one person who holds a current paediatric first aid certificate must be on the premises and available at all times, and must accompany children on outings (Early Years Foundation Stage 3.25). The training must be renewed every three years. It is the employer's duty to make sure that any training provider that they choose is competent to deliver the training and must cover the course content as for St John Ambulance or Red Cross paediatric first aid training. The Health and Safety Executive offers guidance on choosing a first aid training provider.

Following consultation, the government has decided that from 1 September 2016 it will be a requirement in the EYFS for newly qualified early years staff (with a full and relevant level 2 or level 3 childcare qualification) to also hold a current Paediatric First Aid (PFA) or emergency PFA certificate in order to be included in the required ratios in an early years setting. Childcare providers will be allowed a three month 'grace' period for a newly qualified practitioner to complete PFA training after starting work with a new employer.

Food hygiene

In group provision, all staff involved in preparing and handling food must receive training in food hygiene (EYFS 3.48). Level 2 Food hygiene training will need to be sourced and funded independently. Be sure to check it is approved by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Level 2 qualification

Level 2 qualifications allow you to work in early years under supervision. Getting a qualification at a Level 2 is excellent preparation for doing a Level 3 qualification. However, you do not need to complete a Level 2 before progressing onto a Level 3.

Level 3 qualification

Level 3 qualifications are for those who work unsupervised, planning and organising their own work and perhaps supervising others. You might be working as a practitioner in an early years or playwork setting, or be a childminder working on your own at home. There are two level 3 qualifications available, the Level 3 Diploma Early Years Educator (EYE) and the Level 3 Diploma in Play work (if you work in a play work setting - after school club, breakfast club, holiday playscheme). From September 2014, full and relevant level 3 qualifications will include Early Years Educator in their title.

Effective 3 April 2017 - to count in the ratios at level 3, staff holding an Early Years Educator qualification must also have achieved a suitable level 2 qualification in English and maths as defined by the Department for Education, on the Early Years qualification list. Level 2 functional skills will be accepted alongside other suitable level 2 qualifications including GCSEs.

Files available to download

  • Training cycle (PDF)
    The Training Cycle is a framework for how to plan, implement, evaluate and review staff training in the setting

Subscribe to our newsletters for latest news and events.