NCFE CACHE Level 3 Certificate in Playwork

NEC's suite of playwork qualifications provide in-depth information about the role of the level 3 playworker. This home study course in playwork is mainly knowledge-based with a limited amount of practical application in a work setting required. It covers all the areas you need to learn about to be competent and confident working in a playwork setting, including health and safety, relationships in the play environment and young people’s self-directed play. The qualification will give learners the skills, knowledge and understanding required for playworkers at Level 3 based on the National Occupational Standards.


Course fee£1,595.00
Registration fee£110.00

Course requirements

There are no formal entry requirements but you will need to be at least 18 years of age and working or volunteering in a play environment. You will need to be based within the UK, or if you are overseas then within Europe. This is an online course so you will also need easy access to the internet and to be competent working with electronic documents.

To gain this qualification you will need to register with CACHE. We will take care of this process, but you will need to pay an additional registration fee which is not included in the price of your course.

This course requires you to have a regular work placement in a playwork setting. Your setting must be able to arrange one or more sessions of practical assessments. You will need to gather evidence from your setting such as accident reports, health and safety procedures, feedback on child behaviour. Your face-to-face assessor will require you to talk about your experiences at your setting.

You will need to give details of the workplace setting when you enrol, and your manager will need to confirm some information.

If you are based overseas it is essential that you contact our course advice team before enrolling on this course.

Duration of study

As a guideline, you should allow for approximately 300 hours' study time. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 12 months from the date of enrolment.


This course is accredited by CACHE, the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education.


Award in Playwork units
  • Understand playwork principles
  • Understand children and young people's self-directed play
  • Understand how to safeguard the wellbeing of children and young people's play

Certificate in Playwork units
  • Understand the organisational framework for play
  • Understand how to support positive outcomes for children and young people
  • Understand relationships in the play environment
  • Understand health, safety and security in the play environment
  • Understand how to plan for and support children and young people's self-directed play
  • Engage in personal development in health, social care of children and young people's settings

Exams and assessment

This course is delivered online and assessment will consist of a portfolio of evidence in different formats such as learning plans, written tasks and discussions and direct observation.

To achieve the Certificate in Playwork you'll need to complete the three units making up the Award in Playwork and the six that make up the Certificate: nine units totalling 32 credits. See the Topics section for the full list.

As well as leading to a qualification in its own right, this course forms part of the Diploma in Playwork (QCF) and carries 32 credits towards the higher-level qualifications.

NEC will register you for this qualification with the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE). The £110 registration fee is not included in your course fee and will need to be paid in addition at the time of enrolment.

Set texts and resources

This course is entirely self-contained so no additional textbooks are required.

Using the NEC Laser

You’ll work through this course using the NEC Laser: an online learning system that makes completing your course – submitting your work, doing activities and getting feedback – straightforward and enjoyable. The system is easy to use and all the work you complete is recorded in your learner profile, forming an online portfolio.

As this course is delivered online, you will need a computer with an internet connection, word processing software, Flash Player and Acrobat Reader. You will need to be confident using the internet, sending and receiving emails with attachments and producing basic documents using a word processor. We also recommend that you use Skype, and that you have a webcam for this course.

How to enrol

For this course there are two ways to enrol with NEC:
  • Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team.
  • Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.

Paying in instalments

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over monthly instalments with our finance offer. To pay in instalments you will need to enrol by telephone.

Representative example:
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months

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What our students say...

Jill Stocker chose to take a distance learning course when her employer recommended it to her. She currently works as a playworker and found the course very enjoyable, praising the "straightforward, easy to understand material". In her spare time, Jill enjoys keeping fit, horse-riding, shopping and babysitting. She plans to continue working in the playwork area, with the ultimate ambition of becoming a primary school teacher.