An introduction to T Levels in Education and Childcare from CACHE

Equipping tomorrow’s workforce with the next generation of Technical Qualifications

In February last year, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) and the Department for Education (DfE) announced they had chosen NCFE to be the delivery partner for the Education and Childcare T Level. The CACHE developed Technical Qualification will be delivered as part of the T Level, signifying another important milestone in CACHE’s long heritage in supporting the childcare and education sector with gold-standard qualifications.

What are T Levels?

T Levels will become one of the main choices for students post-16, alongside “A” levels and apprenticeships.

Equivalent to 3 A levels, the 2-year courses have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses to ensure the content prepares students for the world of work and meets industry needs. They will offer learners a mixture of classroom learning and industry placement with the first 3 routes being delivered from September 2020.

How will T Levels prepare students for the Education and Childcare workforce?

The Education and Childcare T Level will provide learners with the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to progress into skilled employment, higher level technical training or further study in the education and childcare sector. There will be 3 occupational specialisms within the new qualification, these are; Early Years Education and Childcare, Assisting Teaching, and Supporting and Mentoring Students in Further and Higher Education, all of which will consist of both classroom-based and practical learning experience.

How will this T Level ensure students are occupationally competent?

The DfE has confirmed that the T Level Early Years Education and Childcare pathway will meet the Early Years Educator criteria and will be listed as full and relevant on their list of suitable qualifications moving forward. This is of critical importance for the sector, as this reassures that students gaining this pioneering T Level qualification will be counted in ratio within early years settings, employed at Level 3. Those students wishing to progress to higher education will also find that the T Level qualification provides them with this opportunity too.

How does the T Level compare with current Level 3 qualifications?

The content of the T Level qualification allows for some familiarity in terms of core content. The core content is arranged as 12 elements. These elements require teaching and learning across key areas within education and childcare. Synoptic external assessment is planned for the core component, it includes an examination and employer set project (a project set and marked by CACHE in conjunction with employers).

Following engagement with core content students are able to specialise in one of the 3 identified pathways and will continue to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills in the context of their chosen occupational specialism. The assessment will be an opportunity for students to converge theory and practice through assignments, allowing students to showcase their practical skills and theoretical understanding.

Assessment Structure (draft)

Core Content

Occupational Specialism

Exam (Paper A and Paper B)

Themed assignment: Planning to meet the individual needs of children

Employer Set Project (Controlled supervision, scenario based)

Practical assessment of competences required for the Early Years Educator criteria

Themed assignment: Observation cycles


The draft structure outlined above has been developed to maximise knowledge, understanding and skills through the core and occupational specialism.

 Assessing the Core Content

Paper A and B will be completed towards the end of the core and will test the students’ knowledge and understanding across the 12 elements.

The Employer set project, set by CACHE, will be set in the final term of the core year and will be taken under controlled supervision. Students will have a choice of scenarios to choose from. Assessment will require students to show an application of knowledge and understanding gained from across the core.

Assessing the Occupational Specialism

Towards the end of the Occupational Specialism the students will be required to complete 3 assignments:

Themed assignment: Planning to meet the individual needs of children

Practical assessment of competences required for the EYE criteria

Themed assignment: Observation cycles

Who will be delivering the Education and Childcare T Level?

This T Level will be delivered to the first cohort of students from September 2020 by a select group of eligible college and 6th form providers. T Levels will then be made available as part of a phased roll out with the second wave of eligible providers beginning delivery of T Levels from September 2021. It is expected that T Levels will be fully rolled out to all providers by September 2023.

How will the Industry Placement work?

The Education and Childcare T Level will include an industry placement with an employer focused on developing the practical and technical skills required for employment in the sector. This placement will last a minimum of 315 hours (approximately 45 days) but can last longer. Those students following the Early Years Education and Care occupational specialism will need to complete a greater number of hours, up to 750 hours, in relevant work experience in order to sufficiently meet the Early Years Educator criteria. Employers can offer industry placements as a block, day release or a mix of these, and can discuss sharing part of the placement with another employer if necessary, and as appropriate in order to meet the requirements.

Providers will work in partnership with placements to ensure the students have the best possible experience for successful outcomes.

How can childcare employers support the implementation of T Levels?

NCFE is currently working with employers across the Childcare sector to ensure the validity of the assessments and content of T Level Technical Qualifications.

If you are interested in finding out how your organisation could offer industry placements to T Level students visit the Gov website.

Working together

We appreciate that with such ambitious plans for technical education it is important to provide information that offers a clear insight to the sector. We are committed to driving forward advancements in childcare and education which support providers in meeting the demand for a highly skilled and qualified workforce.  

This is a significant step for our sector, and one that will be pivotal in history with regard to parity for General and Technical education. Such parity must be embraced as a real advancement in educational outcomes for our students.

We would like to thank the sector for embracing these developments and for its support so far. We look forward to continuing to work closely with you throughout roll out of T Levels and will keep you up to date with developments as we move forward.

For more information on the Education and Childcare T Level visit our website.