Exam Board: BTEC


BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Children’s Play, Learning and Development (Early Years Educator)

Key Information

1080 Guided Learning Hours

Equivalent in size to three A Levels.

Content: 21 units of which 11 are Mandatory and 3 are external.

  • Mandatory content (77%)
  • External assessment (33%)

The quali­fication is a two-year, full-time course designed for sixth form learners with an interest in progressing to a career as an early years educator, for example as a nursery worker, childminder or nanny. It is also appropriate for those who wish to progress to higher education to specialise in a related ­field.

No prior study of the sector is needed, but learners will normally have a range of achievement at Level 2 in GCSEs or equivalent qualifi­cations. Learners will also need to achieve GCSEs in English and Maths at grade 4 or above to practice as an early years educator.

What will I study?

The content of this quali­fication has been developed in consultation with employers and professional bodies to con­rm that the content is appropriate for those interested in working in the sector.

Learners taking this qualifi­cation will study eleven mandatory units which cover the following topics:

  • Children’s development
  • Keeping children safe
  • Observation, assessment and planning
  • Play and learning
  • Reflective practice
  • Research
  • Supporting children’s early learning
  • The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
  • Working with parents and others

Optional units, selected by the academy, have been designed to support progression to relevant occupational areas and to the range of sector-related courses in higher education. They cover content areas such as:

  • Working in a Montessori setting
  • Children’s development outdoors
  • Working with children with additional needs

All learners taking this quali­cation will be required to engage with sector employers as part of their course. This includes 750 hours of mandatory work experience, and production of a Practical Evidence Portfolio (PEP), to record evidence of engagement in continuing professional development and reflective practice in different early year settings.

Will the qualification lead to employment, and if so, in which job role at which level?

The qualification is a licence to practice in the early years sector. Roles include:

  • Early years educator
  • Nanny

What else could this qualification lead to?

The qualification will normally be the only qualification in a two-year study programme. It is for learners who want to progress to a range of degree programmes in the early years sector.

The qualification carries UCAS points and is recognised by higher education providers as contributing to meeting admission requirements to many relevant courses, for example:

  • BA (Hons) Special Education
  • BSC (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
  • BA (Hons) Primary Education.