Early Years & Childcare - Essex County Council - Back to Homepage
Why does the qualification level of practitioners matter?

Whilst experience is invaluable, practitioners who have studied will have a much deeper understanding of the development of each child and how best to support them. 
Within a Full Day Care setting or Preschool an Early Years practitioner could be qualified to Level 2, Level 3, Foundation Degree (Level 5), Early Years Professional Status, EYPS (Level 6) or Masters Level.


Level 3


Level 3 qualifications, such as, CACHE Diploma in Childcare and Education, PSLA Diploma in Pre-school Practice, BTEC Diploma in Childhood Studies etc. and are equivalent to 2 ‘A’ levels. With a Level 3 childcare qualification practitioners would be able to work towards a Foundation Degree in Early Years.


Foundation Degree (Level 5)


Foundation Degrees are higher education qualifications that combine academic study with workplace learning. The sector endorsed Foundation Degree in Early Years and Education is a nationally recognised academic award and offers the most relevant Level 5 qualification within the Early Years and Childcare sector. Courses are conditional upon a student spending a minimum amount of time with the children, which could be anything between five and twelve hours per week in either a paid or voluntary capacity, in order to be able to complete the work related and work based assignments.


Early Years Professional Status, EYPS (Level 6)


Once a practitioner has achieved a Foundation Degree they could then apply their EYPS on a long pathway which will consist of 15 months part time study. To study for a Foundation Degree and then EYPS will take approximately 5 years. Alternatively a practitioner who already has a degree in a subject related to Early Years could apply to do their EYPS on a Short Extended Professional Development Pathway which will take 6 months part time. If a practitioner has a degree in a degree unrelated to Early Years they could apply to do their EYPS on a Full Time Professional Development Pathway which will take 12 months.


EYPS Assessment


Regardless of which pathway is chosen, all candidates will go through the same final validation assessment process:-


1. A one day review of skills

2. Five written assessment tasks based on their experience of early years practice 3. A one day assessment visit in their early years setting, including a tour of the setting, a review of the written tasks and an interview with the practitioner and some of their colleagues or parents.


All practitioners must have a good knowledge and understanding of all age groups that is babies (0-16 months), toddlers (16-36 months) and young children (36-60 months).


All practitioners must hold Maths and English GCSE at level C or above. Thus to achieve EYPS takes many years of study and experience with children. They have been able to meet a set of 39 standards covering six areas of practice:


• knowledge and understanding

• effective practice

• relationships with children

• communicating and working in partnership with families and carers

• teamwork and collaboration

• professional development


To find out more about how practitioners become EYPs please click here.


If you have any questions about this information then please contact a Workforce Development Consultant at ey-gta@essex.gov.uk or 01245 438500.