Early Years and childcare qualifications

Regulations and qualifications for childcare staff.

All early years providers working with children from birth to 5 years old must follow the regulations on qualified staff-to-child ratios. These regulations are set out in the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS). Providers must ensure staff have the appropriate qualifications to be counted in the ratios. The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for defining the qualifications that staff must hold to be included in the staff-to-child ratios.

The early years qualifications list is a searchable list of qualifications. Both providers and prospective staff can use it to check qualifications and confirm if a person can be counted in the qualified staff-to-child ratios.

Funding for staff qualifications

In spring 2017, the way the government funds apprenticeships in England changed. Employers with a pay bill of over £3 million are required to contribute to a new apprenticeship levy and there will be changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers.

Providers not paying the apprenticeship levy can choose the training they would like their apprentices to receive, an approved training provider and an assessment organisation using the registers available on the National Apprenticeship Service website. Providers will be asked to make a 10% contribution to the cost of the training and government will pay the rest (90%), up to the maximum amount of government funding available for that apprenticeship. Providers will be asked to pay this directly to the provider and will be able to spread it over the life time of the apprenticeship.

We expect this to be the main funding source for Early Years providers to use for qualifications in future as we are no longer able to provide bursaries. Here are some frequently asked questions and there is more information on the DfE website here.

In the meantime, for details of local training providers offering funded Early Years apprenticeship courses now, please go to www.apprenticeships-in-sussex.com.

An alternative to apprenticeship funding is an Advanced Learning Loan. Students can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to help with the costs of a course at a college or training provider in England. Loan eligibility doesn’t depend on income and there are no credit checks.

Please note that students will have to pay the loan back when both the following apply:

  • they've finished their course
  • they earn more than certain amount

Information about this can be found on the DfE website.

English and maths

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 Qualifications List published on GOV.UK. This can be GCSE English and maths, but can also be Functional Skills or other equivalents.

English and Maths courses on the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College website

Graduate level courses

Early Years Teacher Status

Early Years Initial Teacher Training on the Brighton University website (there are no fees for this course)

Early Years Education MA on the University of Sussex website (there are no fees for this course)

Early Childhood Degree

Details of the University of Brighton course (Government loans are available for fees)

Checking international qualifications

If you are recruiting staff to work at Level 2 or 3 with an international qualification, you will need a Statement of Comparability for the Early Years Sector from NARIC.

For staff with an international degree, have a look at the UK NARIC website for details of the Statement of Comparability. These are officially recognised documents that confirms the recognition of an overseas qualification and its comparable level in the UK.