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2 August 2018
By Christina Howse

Your views do count! Welcoming news from the DFE on the new level 2 early years practitioner qualification

Level 2 qualifications for Early Years and Childcare Workforce – Government response to recent consultation

Following the Department for Education (DfE) commitment in its March 2017 Early Years Workforce Strategy to develop set criteria for a new level 2 qualification, the DfE held a 12-week consultation on the proposed early years level 2 qualification criteria that had been developed by an expert reference group. This level is the foundation for higher qualifications and needs to give learners a strong knowledge base that they can demonstrate in practice and build on to achieve higher qualifications and progress in their career. At the end of July 2018, the DfE published the results of the consultation with Government response. In total 164 responses were received and additional meetings held with employer groups.

The title of those holding the level 2 qualification will be changed from level 2 Assistant to level 2 Practitioner. This is pleasing to hear, as it is important to recognise the value of level 2 practitioners and the qualification title should reflect that.

We have drawn out below the significant changes to criteria, following the consultation.

View the full DfE response

Knowledge of Child Development

Following the consultation, the expectation of learner’s knowledge of ‘how children learn’ was added into the criteria. This is in line with terminology already used within the sector and focuses on the ‘how’ which should always be embedded before the ‘what is learnt’. In our Kent response to the consultation this was something we fedback and we are pleased this has now been included.

The terminology ‘key person’ was missing from the proposed criteria. This has now been included within this section along with being able to describe the importance of attachments and transitions. Again, this is very welcomed as this terminology is already widely used by the sector. Therefore, it is important learners understand these key concepts, how they relate to practice and link to each other.


This section has been strengthened to not only ensure the learner understands the importance of safeguarding, but also their own role and responsibilities within this.

Safeguarding has many facets to it and it is important that training providers offering this qualification and settings supporting learners ensure that the range of elements that are covered are understood by learners and that they are able to put this into practice.

Health and Safety

Again, wording now strengthens the need for learners to describe their own roles and responsibilities.

Oral hygiene has been added to the hygiene practices bullet point, this is welcoming considering recent reports on the rising level of tooth decay in children.


This section has been revised to include oral hygiene and wording is more concise.


Strengthened to be more inclusive, wording changed to ‘all’ children. Reference made to children with EAL and/or children who have speech delay. This is welcomed, as it strengthens the importance of inclusive practice and how this should be threaded through practice and not seen separately.

Support the planning of and deliver activities, purposeful play opportunities and educational programmes

Terminology added relating to statutory framework and the learning and development requirements. Again, this is important to use recognised terminology that is commonly used by the sector.

Additional criteria has been added to strengthen language, early writing and mathematical development.

Support Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Again, pleased to see that recognised and widely used terminology graduated approach and care plan has now being included.

Own Role and Development

Strengthened with the expectation of learners needing to give examples and identifying own roles and responsibilities.

Working with Others- parents, colleagues, other professionals

This now includes voice of the child, which is an important aspect for all levels of the workforce. Being able to understand the importance of listening to children and giving them a voice, is fundamental in ensuring the quality of teaching and meeting the needs of children is of a high level.


The revised criteria are welcoming and it is pleasing to see that feedback from the sector has influenced changes. However, this does not take away the importance of having high quality training providers delivering this (and other) qualifications. The workforce and young children deserve the highest quality care and education. To continue to drive the quality of provision, we need a competent workforce who have access to high quality qualification.