DfE confirms that EYE learners can switch from GCSEs to Functional Skills

Date: 09 March, 2017


Last week, it was announced that the government will reinstate Functional Skills as an alternative to GCSE maths and English for Level 3 Early Years Educators (EYEs).


Following this landmark decision, some of those already working towards an EYE qualification have asked whether they can now switch over to Functional Skills. The good news is that the answer is yes.


The Department for Education has confirmed the following:


“As you may be aware, in response to the government consultation on the literacy and numeracy requirements for level 3 Early Years Educator (EYE) staff and as part of the early years workforce strategy, the current GCSE English and maths requirements for level 3 EYE have been broadened to include other suitable level 2 qualifications.  This also includes level 2 Functional Skills.


The revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Statutory Framework will come into force from 3 April 2017, and will enable staff with an EYE qualification and suitable level 2 English and mathematics qualifications to count in the level 3 staff: child ratios.  This change will impact anyone who already holds an EYE qualification, began studying an EYE since 1 September 2014 or takes up an EYE in the future.


This means that learners who are currently working towards an EYE qualification (either stand alone or as part of an apprenticeship program) can count in the level 3 ratios if they hold a suitable level 2 qualification in English and maths once they have achieved their EYE qualification.


The Skills Funding Agency will be disseminating communications to training providers to outline changes to the funding rules for apprenticeships and informing them that continuing learners can be transferred from GCSEs to Functional Skills.


The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for defining the level 2 qualifications that are suitable.  These are listed in Annex B of the level 3 government response at



The early years workforce strategy is available at



The revised EYFS is available at