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Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator) Childcare & Early Years


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

Qualify as an Early Years Educator and discover how to create a nurturing, safe environment for children aged 0 to 5 through our popular Early Years Workforce Diploma online course.

The Early Years Workforce Level 3 Diploma is a key qualification that will enable you to work with, and care for, children from 0 to 5, as well as offering additional knowledge of children aged 5 to 7.  

Accredited by CACHE, this course is the ‘gold standard’ for early years education in the UK and will qualify you for a wide range of roles in this rewarding sector. Ideally, you’ll already have relevant experience and will be working or volunteering with children for at least 12 hours per week.

Through our Early Years Workforce Diploma online course, you’ll explore key topics relating to health, well-being and development; as you gain the knowledge and experience you need to bring out the very best in young people, at this crucial stage in their development.

Please note: This NCFE CACHE qualification replaces the Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce. To gain the ‘full and relevant’ Level 3 qualification in England you’ll need a Level 2 qualification in English and Maths, plus a suitable First Aid qualification.

Why study Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator)?

You’ll achieve a recognised qualification from CACHE the UK’s only specialist awarding organisation for the childcare sector. By studying with NEC, you’ll benefit from the support of a personal tutor, plus 24/7 access to NEC Laser, an online learning system designed to make submitting work, completing activities and accessing feedback simple. 

Throughout the course, you’ll build an online portfolio of evidence, that enables you to reflect on your placement experience, as you apply your new knowledge and skills. On completion, you’ll be ready to progress your career to the next level!

Our Early Years Workforce Diploma online course is ideal if you:

  • Want to create an environment in which young children can thrive.
  • Would like to gain a recognised qualification in Early Years Education.
  • Aspire to progressing to a more senior role in this rewarding sector.
  • Need a flexible training solution, that fits your lifestyle and workplace commitments.
  • Enjoy applying your learning in the workplace and reflecting on your actions.
  • Would benefit from gaining more confidence in your abilities. 

Future opportunities

  • Successful completion of the Early Years Workforce Diploma course qualifies you to work with young children, opening up opportunities to work as an early years educator, teacher or practitioner; a nursery nurse or practitioner;  a pre-school practitioner or assistant; a home-based childcarer; a nanny or childminder. 

Course content

Theme 1: Health and wellbeing 

  • Support healthy lifestyles for children through the provision of food and nutrition
  • Promote health lifestyles for children through exercise
  • Support physical care routines for children
  • Promote children’s emotional wellbeing
  • 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

Study the Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce with us and benefit from:

  • Flexible learning
  • Support from a personal tutor by email, phone or Skype
  • Any time enrolment
  • Assignments with tutor feedback
  • Ongoing support from Student Support
  • Forums to discuss your course with other students

NEC Laser

Choose when and where you access your course, using NEC Laser our 24/7 online learning platform.

This easy-to-use learning platform makes completing your course – submitting your work, doing activities and getting feedback – straightforward and enjoyable. All the work you complete is recorded in your learner profile, forming an online portfolio.

Our course tutors

You’ll have access to support from a personal tutor. All NEC tutors are subject experts, with experience of supporting online learners. 

Meet Kate who is just one of our first-class childcare and early years tutors:

“When my own children were young I worked as a childminder and in a pre-school and while doing this achieved two level 3 qualifications. I enjoyed working with children and learning about how to do it more effectively, so I then did a degree with the Open University and gained my assessor qualification. I have taught childcare with the NEC, through the NCMA (now PACEY) and for two other local training organisations. It is a very satisfying job, as I see students start at the beginning of a Level 2 course slowly grow in confidence, ability and understanding, to the end of a Level 3 course. I feel proud of being involved in raising the professional status of childcare professionals through training and qualifications.”

What you need to know


  • This course is accredited by the NCFE CACHE


  • Online learning with support from a personal tutor

Entry requirements

  • A good command of basic English, both written and spoken
  • At least 18 years of age

You will need to have a minimum of 2 years experience working in an early years setting. You will need to have worked in a key role and will have had –  or have – responsibility for liaising with parents, contributing to the planning in the setting as well as working with and observing the children in the setting. You will need to be currently working or volunteering in a setting/settings for a minimum of 12 hours a week. Your setting manager/s will need to agree that they will be happy for you to be observed at work as part of your course

You need to be based within the UK, or if you are overseas within Europe. If you are based overseas it is essential that you contact our course advice team before enrolling on this course 

You need to gain at least 25 hours of placement experience, during the time you are studying the course, in each of these age ranges:

  • 0 years – 1 year 11 months
  • 2 years – 2 years 11 months
  • 3 years – 5 years

You need to gain 350 hours of placement experience in total.

  • Registration 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, when you enrol
  • A relevant level 2 qualification would be helpful but is not essential
  • You must be working or volunteering in a setting for the last six months of the course. You’ll need to complete the longitudinal study and will be visited by an assessor who will observe your practice
  • You will be expected to show a confident knowledge of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework right from the start of the course. If you are working abroad and not using the EYFS framework you will need to familiarise yourself with it at the start of the course. You can have support to do this 


  • Complete at your own pace across 24 months
  • Approx. 486  study hours plus additional time spend in your setting or settings and time for completing assignments
  • You must be able to commit to 4-6 hours of study each week for 18-24 months. Discuss this commitment with your workplace so they can support you


  • You will create an online portfolio of evidence using different formats such as learning plans, written tasks and discussions
  • You will undertake one longitudinal study over a six week period
  • You will be observed in your setting for two days, carrying out your regular work duties, and following an agreed plan of activities and routines. This observation will be towards the end of your course, and your workplace manager must support the assessor’s visit.  


  • No additional set texts required


  • Internet access
  • Computer operating system, browser and software to enable you to complete the course using the NEC Laser online learning platform 

What's included?

Our course fees are open and honest to help you plan for any additional costs.

Your course fee includes:

  • Access to the NEC Laser online learning platform
  • All the course materials you need to complete the course
  • Support from a personal tutor for up to 24  months from your date of enrolment
  • Assignment marking
  • NEC’s guide to study skills: How to Succeed as an Independent Learner
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar guide
  • Time planner to help you plan your study timetable

Your course fee does not cover:

  • CACHE registration fee – NEC will register you with CACHE but the £129 registration fee is not included in your course fee and will need to be an additional payment at the time of enrolment.
  • The cost of optional textbooks

Optional extras:

  • This course is entirely self-contained so no additional textbooks are required. However, it is recommended that you purchase the following text, which will cost approximately £25, for additional reading:
  • CACHE Level 3 Early Years Educator for the Work-Based Learner,  Penny Tassoni, ISBN: 9781471808067 

Exams and assessment

  • You will create an online portfolio of evidence using different formats such as learning plans, written tasks and discussions
  • You will undertake one longitudinal study over a six week period
  • You will be observed in your setting for two days, carrying out your regular work duties, and following an agreed plan of activities and routines. This observation will be towards the end of your course, and your workplace manager must support the assessor’s visit.