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This study programme is designed for 16-19 year olds only (age 19-24 for students with an Education, Health and Care Plan). 

Please visit our Adult Education, Degrees and Employer section for alternative courses.

About the course

  This course is suitable for those seeking to work professionally in the Early Years sector, providing a valuable foundation for progression onto university degree courses or employment. This course is an excellent choice for students interested in Early Years careers - primary school teaching, pre-school nursery teacher, nanny, au pair and so on.  The course is equivalent to 3 A levels.


One of the huge benefits of studying a childcare course at college is the professional qualifications of all the teaching staff. The course is delivered by Early Years managers, primary teachers, nursery nurses,  health visitors and other teachers who are professionally qualified in their field e.g. social work or additional needs specialist teachers. Students gain an excellent understanding of the professional values of the sector because all of our tutors have worked within the childcare industry.

 A compulsory part of the course is work placement and you will need to complete in the region of 400 hours per year to pass the course. Work placement is organised by the work placement team. It is a full time course. You attend college three days per week and the other two days are out in placement. You will get the opportunity to work in a variety of child care settings.

Entry requirements

The minimum requirement is 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above or equivalent to include English and ideally Maths.

In addition all students must:

  • Have an interview with a member of the course team

  • Have a clear DBS check



This course will give you a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Children's Play Learning and Development with Early Years Educator status (license to practice). The full extended diploma is a two-year programme

What you'll learn (core modules)

The aim is to give you a good understanding of the childcare sector; the values, skills and knowledge that are essential for work in this field. Units include:

  • Children's development

  • The Early Years Curriculum

  • Play & Learning

  • Meeting physical care needs

  • Communication, language and literacy

  • Working with parents

  • Safeguarding children

  • Observation and assessment

  • Research skills

In addition, any students aged 16 to 19 who does not have a GCSE A* to C (Grade 9 to 4) in Maths and English will need to continue studying these subjects alongside their Early Years Studies.

Benefits, skills and character strengths

This course will prepare you for employment in the childcare sector. This course will give you the confidence and resilience needed to be successful in Early Years Practice.

With 750 hours of practical experience over two years of the course, our students perform exceptionally well at university interviews. The course attracts UCAS points, the maximum available points for distinction* candidates is 420 points.

How will I be assessed?

Each year of the course has an examinable component. The other units are internally assessed in a variety of ways - course work, assignments, presentations and a visit in placement.

In addition, students complete an extensive professional portfolio of work based learning evidence over the two years.

Where is the course delivered? (facilities/classrooms)

West Suffolk College. Your placement is organised by the college but students are given the opportunity to make choices about where they would like to go to placement.

Where will the course take me?

The majority of our students complete the full extended diploma over two years and will then progress to university or into employment in the early years sector. Our students this year are applying for  early childhood studies, primary education, psychology and midwifery amongst others. Many students gain employment throughout their studies with their work placement setting.

Will I need any materials or equipment?

Students will need to purchase two placement T-shirts, available from the college shop at a cost of around £13 each.

Furthermore, students will need to have their own college stationery for classes - paper, pens, a folder etc.

I'm interested. What should I do now?

If you are interested, do come along to one of the college open events which is a great opportunity to meet the course tutors, ask more questions about the course and meet current students. If you would like to apply, this can be done via the college website.

Days & times

Starting September 2022

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