NCFE/Cache Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator)

Worker and child learning together

Download course detailsNCFE/Cache Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator)

This qualification has been designed with the work-based learner in mind. It enables learners to work with children from birth to 5 years and gain knowledge of children aged 5 to 7 years.

The qualification meets the Department for Education’s (DfE) Level 3 full and relevant criteria for a Level 3 Early Years Educator.

You can register your interest by .

Who is this qualification suitable for?

This qualification is suitable for those either working or volunteering in early years education and care.

How is this qualification structured?

The Diploma is made up of banks of shared units, grouped under the following themes:

  • Theme 1: Health and well-being
  • Theme 2: Legislation, frameworks and professional practice
  • Theme 3: Play, development and learning for school readiness
  • Theme 4: Professional development

Learners must achieve 23 mandatory units, equating to 61 credits, which include observational studies and competence in a real work environment.

How is it assessed?

All units will be internally assessed using a range of methods, including direct observation within the workplace and written evidence.

Do you need to be working to enrol on this qualification?

Learners will need to be working or have a suitable work placement in an early years care and education setting. We recommend learners complete 350 placement hours whilst undertaking this qualification. Learners must be in a position to become fully involved in all activities, particularly the observation of children. This qualification requires assessment in real working situations.

What are the entry requirements?

Learners must be aged 16 years or above and meet the criteria below:

  • To be working or volunteering for a minimum of 8 hours a week. This ideally should be across 2 or more days to ensure consistency with key children.
  • To have, or be able to shadow a colleague working with, key children and to have the opportunity to observe children.
  • To work in a setting which would support a visiting assessor to observe your skills in the workplace. You may have to carry out specific tasks set by your assessor.
  • To be able to be assessed working with the following 3 children age groups, for a total of 350 flexible hours with a minimum of 25 hours in each age group:

                     - 0 - 1 year, 11 months

                     - 2 - 2 years, 11 months

                     - 3 - 5 years

  • To be in a position to carry out 4-6 hours of study per week to complete the level 3 programme
  • To have the appropriate level of literacy and numeracy
  • To have regular access to a pc or laptop which will allow you to access the on-line portfolio system (ipads/tablets/smart phones are not suitable)
  • To be able to surf the internet, send and receive emails with attachments, complete written work using a computer (with Microsoft Word) and be generally IT literate.
How long will it take?

Learners will be enrolled for 15 months.

How much does it cost?

Full cost course fee: £2,882
For learners aged 19+ this course can be funded through an Advanced Learner Loan

Further information can be found on the government website:

Discounts are available for Early Years 91ɫƵ member settings.

Please contact the Training Centre for information on course fees, funding eligibility and individual advice and guidance.

How will the training be delivered?

The Early Years 91ɫƵ offers the diploma through a blended learning programme which includes online teaching sessions, written tasks, online courses, 1-1 reviews and assessment in the workplace.

You will need to fully participate in all aspects of the training programme, attend the monthly online teaching session, engage weekly with your assessor and complete tasks by set deadlines. 

At points throughout the programme, your assessor will visit your workplace or placement to complete observations and assessment of your practice.

To register your interest and find out about funding options, please complete the webform on the Early Years 91ɫƵ website or email

Alternatively, if you would like more information or to discuss your individual requirements, please phone our Training Centre on 01732 363070.

Enrolment process:
  • Application form – to be completed in full and returned.
  • On-line English and maths assessments – to check the qualification level is appropriate and to ascertain any additional support needed.
  • Telephone interview – to discuss the training delivery, funding, additional support requirements (if required) and complete a skills scan to check for prior knowledge and skills.
  • Fees – funding arrangements to be completed.
  • Enrolment paperwork finalised – an 91ɫƵ Training Advisor will schedule a Microsoft Teams video meeting with you to review enrolment details and check your identification (please bring photo id to this meeting). The date of the induction and first day of learning session will be confirmed during this meeting.
  • Formal start – attend the induction/first day of learning online session.
What related qualifications can you progress to?

NCFE CACHE Level 5 for the Early Years Senior Practitioner qualification

IMPORTANT INFORMATION about Early Years Educator qualifications and staff ratios

Although this is not an entry requirement to enrol on the EYE qualification, to be counted in the EYFS staff:child ratios at level 3, candidates must also hold a suitable English qualification - see list below. 

If you don’t already hold these, then we would recommend completing them prior to or after achieving the EYE.


  • Functional skills qualification in English at level 2
  • GCSE/International GCSE qualification in English language and/or literature to at least grade C or 4
  • Key skills qualification in communication at level 2
  • A level or AS level qualification in English language and/or English literature to at least grade E
  • level qualification in English to at least grade C
  • CSE grade 1 English (language)
  • Basic skills certificate L2 - certificate in adult literacy
  • British Sign Language (BSL) for people who use BSL as their primary language
  • Also recognised: Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh equivalents.

As of January 2024, the requirement for level 3 educators to hold a level 2 (GCSE or equivalent) maths qualification has been removed. This requirement has been moved to managers, who are "responsible for ensuring their staff have the right level of maths knowledge to deliver high-quality early years provision".


  • Functional skills qualification in maths at level 2
  • GCSE/International GCSE qualification in maths to at least grade C or 4
  • Key skills qualification in application of number at level 2
  • A level or AS level qualification in maths or pure maths and/or further maths to at least grade E
  • level qualification in maths to at least grade C
  • CSE grade 1 maths
  • Basic skills certificate L2 - certificate in adult numeracy
  • Also recognised: Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh equivalents.

Advanced Learner Loans

If you are aged 19 or above, you may qualify for an  to help pay for your course fees. Most learners aged 19 and over, studying at Level 3 or Level 4, will qualify for these loans from the UK government. It’s easy to apply, your household income isn’t taken into account and there’s no credit check. You won’t have to pay anything back until your income is over £27,295 a year!

Training offer

To register your interest and start the application process, please complete the online form below or contact our Training Centre.

Early Years 91ɫƵ Training Centre

01732 363070

1st Floor, Bridge House, 97-101 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1DR