Government will pay for Childcare Level 3 qualifications in England

The Government has announced today that thousands of adults in England will benefit from free courses from April, which includes Level 3 childcare qualifications.

Adult learners, aged 24 or over, will be able to benefit from almost 400 free courses next year , in the first major development in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee announced by the Prime Minister in September.

  • Tens of thousands of adults to benefit from hundreds of free courses next year, including early years and childcare Level 3 qualifications
  • Courses will be fully-funded by the Government as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee
  • These courses will be available from April to all adults without a full Level 3 (A-level equivalent) qualification 
Purnima Tanuku OBE. Chief Executive of NDNA said:

“This is very positive news for childcare providers across the country and for young adults wanting to develop their careers in early years education.

“This could save students and employers thousands of pounds in fees so could remove a major barrier to starting the Early Years Educator course in the first place. We hope this will mean that many more people interested in teaching our youngest children will be able to take the first step on the ladder towards their ambitions. 


“Research has shown that children in early years benefit from being educated by staff with higher qualifications and greater levels of experience. Improving the access to these qualifications will support professional development in the sector.

“We know from our own early years workforce research that the numbers of Level 3 qualified practitioners has dropped alarmingly in the last few years. Equally nurseries and other childcare providers are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain Level 3 qualified staff members.

“Employers will welcome this news as they will be able to develop their practitioners aged 24 and over who would not have been eligible for funding previously. This training will provide reward and recognition for these members of staff who might not have received it due to employers’ limited budgets. We hope this will spur on many practitioners already working with young children who are qualified to Level 2 or below to progress their own careers and sign up for a course from April.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“Despite all our efforts, coronavirus is damaging the economy and putting people out of work. But I am determined to help everyone who has lost their job to retrain, develop new skills and find new opportunities.  

"The Lifetime Skills Guarantee will give thousands of adults across the country the chance to do exactly that – as we build back better after the pandemic."

The free childcare courses that are currently listed are:

  • Certificate in Childcare and Education
  • Certificate in the Principles of Special Educational Needs
  • Diploma for Residential Childcare
  • Diploma for Residential Childcare                                      
  • Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce
  • Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce (England)
  • Diploma for the Children's Workforce (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma For the Early Years Practitioner (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma in Children's Learning and Development (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma In Early Learning and Childcare (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma in Early Years Education and Childcare (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma in Holistic Baby and Child Care (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy - Birth to Seven (Early Years Educator)
  • Diploma in Playwork (NVQ)
  • National Diploma in Children's Play, Learning and Development (Early Years Educator)
  • National Extended Diploma in Children's Play, Learning and Development (Early Years Educator)
  • Technical Certificate in Childcare and Education
  • Technical Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator)
  • Technical Diploma in Early Years Education and Care (Early Years Educator)

The list of funded Level 3 courses will be kept under review and there will be a facility for Awarding Organisations and mayoral combined authorities to suggest additions to the list. This information was correct on 9 December 2020. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “As we recover from the pandemic, we are focussed on making sure that individuals and businesses can build back better than before. 

“Throughout our lives we may all need to boost our skills, or gain new ones. These free qualifications will help open doors to better employment opportunities for thousands of adults and support businesses to access the workforce they need to grow.   

“Our new Lifetime Skills Guarantee promises to help you get the skills you need at every stage of your life. I’d urge all those eligible to see what course they can take from spring next year and start thinking about their next steps.”  

Read more details about the courses here and the announcement here.