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

This qualification is designed to enable you to become an Early Years Educator. You will learn how to provide a safe, nurturing and supportive environment for children aged between 0-5 during this important stage of their development. The course will enable you to work with and care for children from birth to 5 years, and you will also gain knowledge of children aged 5-7 years. This NCFE CACHE qualification replaces the Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce and sets the standards for all childcare and early years professionals. Upon completing the course you can progress into a wide range of job roles in the statutory, voluntary or private sectors, including practising in day nurseries, nursery schools, reception classes in primary schools, pre-schools, or working as a home-based childcarer.

In order to gain the 'full and relevant' Level 3 qualification in England you will also need a pass in a Level 2 qualification in English and Maths, plus a suitable First Aid qualification.


Course fee£2,675.00
Registration fee£125.00

Course requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this course, but we would expect you to have substantial experience e.g. 2 years, of working in an Early Years environment. You are likely to be working as a key worker, with some responsibility for liaising with parents, observing children, and contributing to planning within the setting. A relevant Level 2 qualification would also help, though this is not obligatory.

You will need to have a good command of written and spoken English, be at least 18 years of age, and be working or volunteering in an early years setting or settings, for at least 12 hours a week. 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.

During the time you are studying this course, you need to gain at least 25 hours of placement experience with each of the three age ranges listed below, and 350 hours of placement experience in total:
  • 0 years - 1 year 11 months
  • 2 years - 2 years 11 months
  • 3 years - 5 years

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 be able to commit to 4-6 hours of study each week, over 18-24 months. Before enrolling on this course, reflect on your working week, and establish whether you have this time available. Discuss this commitment with your workplace, so that they can be supportive throughout your studies.

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

You must be working or volunteering in a setting for the last 6 months of the course, in order to be able to complete the longitudinal study and the visit by an assessor to observe your practice.

You will be expected to show a confident knowledge of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework right from the start of this course. If you are working abroad and not using the EYFS framework, you should expect to have to familiarise yourself with this framework at the start of the course. Support can be given to enable you to do this.

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 486 hours' study time, plus additional time spent in your setting or settings, and time for completing assignments. You will need to be able to commit to 4-6 hours of study each week, over 18-24 months. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 24 months from the date of enrolment.


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


Theme 1: Health and well-being
  • Support healthy lifestyles for children through the provision of food and nutrition
  • Promote healthy lifestyles for children through exercise
  • Support physical care routines for children
  • Promote children's emotional well-being
  • Understand how to support children who are unwell

Theme 2: Legislation, frameworks and professional practice
  • Understand legislation relating to the safeguarding, protection and welfare of children
  • Use legislation relating to the health and safety of children
  • Follow legislation relating to equality, diversity and inclusive practice
  • Working in partnership

Theme 3: Play, development and learning for school readiness
  • Understand the value of play in early years
  • Plan, lead and review play opportunities which support children's learning and development
  • Promote enabling play environments
  • Developing children's emergent literacy skills
  • Developing children's emergent mathematical skills
  • Support children's transition to school
  • Develop children's cognitive skills
  • Promote children's speech, language and communication
  • Promoting children's physical development
  • Promoting children's personal, social and emotional development
  • Support children with additional needs
  • Use observation, assessment and planning to promote the development of children
  • Use longitudinal studies to observe, assess and plan for children's needs

Theme 4: Professional development
  • Engage in professional development

Exams and assessment

You will create an online portfolio of evidence using different formats such as learning plans, written tasks, and discussion. You will also undertake one longitudinal study over six weeks. Towards the end of your course you will be observed in the setting for two days, carrying out your regular work duties, following an agreed plan of activities and routines. Your workplace setting manager must be supportive of this visit by an assessor.

NEC will register you for this qualification with the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE). The £125 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. However, it is recommended that you purchase the following book for additional reading: “CACHE Level 3 Early Years Educator for the Work-Based Learner” by Penny Tassoni (ISBN: 9781471808067), costing approximately £25. This is not included in your course fee.

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.

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.

You will also need to complete a pre-enrolment declaration form, which can be downloaded by clicking here.

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:  
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0% APR representative.  
  6 months

The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.

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