Requirements for providers in the public, private and voluntary sector to arrange qualified teachers and acceptable qualifications for early years specialists.

Requirements for classes

Nursery schools and classes are already required to employ a qualified teacher for each class.  Other providers (i.e. in the voluntary and private sector) are required to arrange support from a qualified teacher or other suitably qualified early years specialist to raise standards and help prepare children for school. 

Acceptable qualifications

The following qualifications should therefore be accepted as suitable for persons providing support and advice to the staff of funded pre-school centres through the role of early years specialist:-

  • NVQ level 4 in Early Years Care and Education (see note below on acceptable units *)
  • BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies (Stranmillis College)
  • Diploma in Early Childhood Studies (Stranmillis College)
  • HND in Early Childhood Studies
  • BA Ed (Hons) [Early Years Specialist] (University College, Worcester)
  • Foundation Degree in Early Childhood Studies (Belfast Metropolitan College, Southern Regional College, South Eastern Regional College and South West Regional College)
  • BA (Hons) Early Years (Open University)
  • Foundation Degree in Early Years (Open University)

*Acceptable units

Early years specialists should have been assessed in the Core Units and the other 7 units from Specific Option Strands Advanced Practice and Enhancing Quality and Quality Control.  

The following Advanced Practice Option units are all considered to be essential and must form a part of an NVQ 4 qualification held by an early years specialist:

  • EYC22 Assess and enhance the personal, social and emotional development of children
  • EYC33 Support the literacy needs of children
  • EYC34 Support children’s development in mathematics

Prior experience

In addition to holding an approved qualification, early years specialists should have at least two years prior experience in a leadership role in a pre-school centre, and also the necessary organisational skills.

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