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Entry Requirements

5 GCSEs at Grade C/4 including Maths and English Language.  You can progress from level 2 Childcare with successful Grade c/4 in Maths and English Language. DBS check required.

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Full time

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2 academic years

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Key features and Benefits

  • Get involved with The Forest School Experience and understand how children benefit from learning outdoors
  • Benefit from our longstanding partnerships with East Lancashire Hospital NHS Trust and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
  • Take part in work placements within the sector to put your knowledge into practice
  • Opportunity to progress on to an advanced higher apprenticeship

The Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education is a fast paced two year, full-time course that will enable you to achieve a CACHE Level 3 Diploma Early Years Educator. (CACHE is the UK's most recognised Childcare & Education Awarding body).


You will spend your time either studying at College or within an early years setting such as: nurseries, schools and children's centres, which are in locations close to your home town / area.  

Childcare and Education are both extremely varied and rewarding careers, offering opportunities to work within a nursery setting with babies and toddlers, or teaching young children in primary schools. 

The Level 3 course will provide you with the flexiblity to either enter the work place or continuing studying at degree level, with careers or progression routes to Early Years Practitioner; Nursery Manager; Primary School Teacher; Social Worker; Support Worker within a children's residential home; and a Teaching Assistant. 

To provide you with additional opportunities Blackburn College are proud partners with both East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and The Forest School learning experience.  We are the first College in the country to offer the pioneering and innovative Forest learning experience within a natural outdoor environment.

You will also be able to take part in, and benefit from, our enrichment opportunities giving you the ability to take part in Camp America, Leyland and Salmesbury Playschemes.  In addtion you will be able to complete a paediatric first aid qualification.  All perfect opportunities to enrich your CV or your UCAS applications.

What will I study?

You will study a range of units covering different aspects of Learning and Development. The topics you will learn include:

  • Child Development from Conception to Birth
  • Children’s Health and Wellbeing
  • Play and Learning
  • Supporting Numeracy and Literacy
  • International Perspectives.  You will develop both theoretical and practical experience of the innovative Danish Forest School concept centred on learning in a natural environment for which you will be able to gain a CACHE endorsed certificate to boost your qualification portfolio.  (CACHE is the UK's most recognised Childcare & Education Awarding body)
  • Reflective Practice for Professional Development.  We offer over 750 hours of work placement experience within schools and nurseries.  Placements are managed by our dedicated team who mentor you and provide contact via regular visits.

Entry Requirements

You will need 5 GCSEs at Grade C/4 including Maths and English Language.  You can progress from level 2 Childcare as long as you have completed and have been successful in Maths and English Language at Grade C/4.

A successful DBS check is also required.

How will I be assessed?

The course is assessed through internally and externally assessed coursework over 21 varied units.

This will include case studies, information booklets, essays and discussion based exercises.

You will also be assessed through 2 externally set and marked extended assessments.

Your practical performance will also be assessed on a regular basis in each of your three early years’ settings. You will be required to carry out a work placement of approximately 750 hours, which will be organised for you.

What can I do next?

The Level 3 Diploma will provide you with a great deal of flexibility. 

You will be able to either progress straight to your choice of work, whether this is in a nusery, school or in a hospital environment.  We find that some students then return to education and undertake a foundation degree / degree after completing two or three years in the workplace. 

Or you may wish to progress from College straight to University, with many of our students enrolling onto degree courses at The University of Bath, Edge Hill University and The University Centre at Blackburn College.

Many of our students go onto secure and be successful in a variety of careers ranging from: Primary School Teachers, Social Workers, Early Years Educators and Psychologists.

Your Study Programme

Discover other courses in Early Years

Career Options

Early Years Teacher

Early years teachers, also known as nursery teachers, work with children aged from birth to five years in day nurseries, children's centres and independent nursery schools. They are specialists in early childhood development. They plan, organise and run a wide range of learning and play activities for young children in a safe and supportive setting.

If you love children and are committed to giving them a great start in life, this could be an ideal career for you.

You’ll need a clear understanding of how young children learn, lots of creative ideas and the ability to work closely with parents, teachers and other professionals.

To become an early years teacher, you will need to complete early years initial teacher training and demonstrate that you’ve met the Teachers’ Standards (early years). For this you will normally need a degree and also GCSEs (A*-C) in English, maths and a science subject, or equivalent qualifications. You will also need to pass Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants support children with their learning activities in the classroom. They work closely with teachers to make sure pupils enjoy learning in a safe and caring setting.

If you like working with children and want to play a part in their education and wellbeing, this career could be ideal for you. You'll need to the ability to work closely with parents and teachers. You'll also need good literacy and numeracy skills, as well as creative ideas for activities.

To do this job, you will usually need some experience of working with children. Qualifications in early years work will also be helpful. You may be able to start as a trainee through an Apprenticeship scheme.

Primary School Teacher

In this job you will help to give young children the best possible start in life. If you like spending time with young people, and want to work in education, a job as a primary school teacher could be perfect for you.

You will need to have enthusiasm for the subjects you teach. You’ll also need to be able to relate to pupils and their parents, and have patience and a good sense of humour.

One of the main routes into primary school teaching is to do Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET) and get qualified teacher status. To do this you must have GCSEs in English, maths and a science subject. You will also need clearance by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Nursery Manager

A nursery manager or pre-school manager is in charge of the day-to-day running of a childcare setting. They manage and support staff, and make sure that the centre offers a safe and caring environment for children to develop and learn.

If you enjoy working with children and want a job with lots of responsibility, this could be a perfect career for you.

In this job, you’ll need strong leadership and communication skills. You'll also need good business skills and a clear understanding of child protection, early years care and education issues.

To work as a nursery manager, you will normally need a minimum of a nationally recognised Level 3 childcare qualification and two years’ experience of working with children.

Nursery Worker

Nursery workers, sometimes called nursery nurses, work with babies and young children from birth to five years in childcare settings. They make sure that the children under their care develop and learn in a safe and supportive environment.

If you are committed to helping children thrive and get the best start in life, this could be the perfect career for you.

You will need a warm and positive approach, lots of creative ideas and a willingness to work as part of a team.

You do not always need formal qualifications to start training as a nursery worker, although a good standard of general education, such as GCSEs, including English and maths, would be helpful. For all jobs, you will need to have background checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Special Educational Needs Teacher

Special educational needs (SEN) teachers work with children and young people who have difficulties or disabilities. These children find learning harder than for most children of the same age. If you want to help children and you are looking for a role in education, this job could be perfect for you.

To become a special educational needs teacher, you will need to be able to deal with challenging behaviour. You’ll also need good organisational skills. To work as a special needs teacher you will need to have a teaching qualification and teaching experience.

Special Needs Teaching Assistant

If you are keen to help children and want to work in a school, this could be an ideal job for you. Special needs teaching assistants help children with a wide range of learning, physical or behavioural difficulties.

Local education authorities (LEAs) and schools decide which qualifications and experience they expect. You are likely to need some experience to find paid work. A good way of getting this experience is by volunteering in your local school.

To be a special needs teaching assistant you will need to be patient, and firm when necessary. You must also be willing to help with children’s personal needs.

Hospital Play Specialist

If you enjoy being with children and want to help them during a difficult time, this job could be perfect for you. In this job you will help children cope during their time in hospital.

To do this job you will need the ability to build good relationships with children, and their parents and carers. You’ll need to be a good listener. And you’ll also need to be able to work with families under stress.

Before you start you will have to study for a foundation degree in healthcare play specialism. To do the foundation degree, you will need a professional childcare qualification at level 3 or above.


If you love having fun with children and enjoy being active, this could be just the kind of job you're looking for. Playworkers plan, organise and take part in play and leisure activities for 4 to 16 year olds. They work at places like breakfast clubs, after school clubs, mobile play buses and holiday play schemes.

You don't need to have qualifications to start in playwork but some paid or voluntary experience will be useful.

To become a playworker, you will need to get on well with children, parents and carers. You will need patience and tolerance. You will also need a responsible and caring attitude.

Group of students and staff happy. Some holding stars and signs saying University of Oxford, Lancaster University, Manchester University and University of Central Lancashire

98.7% Overall BTEC Pass Rate

Blackburn College Results August 2021
  • Ofsted Good
  • Lancaster University.
  • University of South Wales.
  • University of Central Lancashire.
  • Skills for Health Quality Mark
  • Advance HE.
  • University of the Arts London.
  • Disability Confident Employer.