Most clubs are exempt from qualification requirements
Since September 2014, out of school clubs on the Early Years Register have been exempt from the requirement to employ staff with 'full and relevant' childcare or playwork qualifications — so long as all the children are in the Reception Year or older. Of course it is still a good idea to employ qualified staff, but it is now down to individual employers to decide what qualifications are appropriate for their settings.
Children who are younger than Reception
However, if your club takes any children who have not yet started Reception — for example if the school has a nursery class — then you still need to meet the standard Early Years qualification requirements for the staff caring for these pre-school children. This means that:
- the manager must have a 'full and relevant' Level 3 qualification (or above)
- at least one member of staff at each session must have a 'full and relevant' Level 3 qualification (or above) (This can be the same person as the manager, as long as they are working directly with the children)
- half the remaining staff who are caring for the pre-school children must have a 'full and relevant' Level 2 qualification (or above).
Pre-September 2014 childcare qualifications
For staff who obtained a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification (or above) — or who began their training — before 1 September 2014, there is a definitve list of recognised 'full and relevant' qualifications maintained by the Department for Education. This list includes the Level 3 NVQ and Level 3 Diploma in Playwork.
See the full list of recognised qualifications >
Post-September 2014 childcare qualifications
For staff who started their training after 1 September 2014, only qualifications that meet the Early Years Educator (EYE) criteria are counted as 'full and relevant' for registered Early Years settings. The DfE maintains a list of the qualifications that currently meet the EYE criteria. As a general rule, if the qualification has the words 'Early Years Educator' in its title, it is considered 'full and relevant'.
Download the current list of qualifications which meet the EYE criteria >
It is notable that no playwork courses are currently included in the list of acceptable post-September 2014 qualifications.
Teaching and nursing qualifications
Staff who have qualified teacher status (QTS), early years teacher status (EYTS) or early years professional status (EYPS) can count as Level 3 staff whether they obtained their qualifications before or after 2014. These staff do not need separate Level 2 English and Maths qualifications.
Staff who have certain nursing qualifications and who were registered before September 2014 can also be counted as Level 3. Not all nursing qualifications are acceptable.
See the list of acceptable nursing qualifications >
English and Maths skills
Anyone with a Level 3 EYE qualification must also have a recognised Level 2 qualification in English and Maths, in order to be counted as Level 3 qualified staff in staffing ratios. If they obtain a Level 3 EYE qualification but don't also have an appropriate English and Maths qualification, they can only be counted as Level 2 staff in staffing ratios.
Since April 2017, the Maths and English requirements for the Level 3 Early Years Educators qualification have been broadened so that a GCSE grade C in Maths and English is no longer the only recognised qualification. Other Level 2 qualifications are now also acceptable, including Functional Skills, Key Skills, O levels, etc. A summary of what Maths and English qualifications are considered acceptable is available on the DfE website:
See the summary of acceptable Maths and English qualifications >
If a member of staff has a recognised 'full and relevant' qualification which they obtained, or began, before 1 September 2014 there is no requirement for them to also have a recognised qualification in English and Maths.
First aid qualifications
From September 2016, settings on the Early Years Register which care for pre-school children must ensure that staff have a current paediatric first aid certificate in order for them to be counted in staffing ratios. This only applies to staff who obtained their early years qualification on or after 30 June 2016. The rules are a little complicated so we've covered this topic in a separate article:
See our article on first aid qualifications for more details >
What does all this mean for out of school clubs?
So how do these changes to 'full and relevant' qualifications affect out of school clubs?
- Most out of school clubs — ie those which only take children of Reception age or above — will not be affected. You can decide for yourself what qualifications you want your staff to have.
- Clubs which take pre-school children (ie those which have not yet started Reception) still need to have staff with recognised 'full and relevant' qualifications, but if these qualifications were obtained or commenced before 1 September 2014 the list of qualifications that are acceptable is unchanged. For example, the Level 3 NVQ in Playwork would be acceptable.
- Clubs which take pre-school children, and which employ staff who started their training after 1 September 2014, must ensure that their staff have a recognised EYE qualification and that they also have a recognised Maths and English Level 2 qualification if they want to be able to count those staff members as Level 3 in their staffing ratios.
- In addition, clubs which take pre-school children, and which employ staff who obtained their early years qualification after 30 June 2016 must ensure that those staff have a current paediatric first aid certificate in order for them to be counted as qualified staff in staffing ratios.