Find out if a person’s qualifications allow them to work in an early years setting and if you can include them in staff:child ratios.
All early years providers working with children from birth to 5 years old must follow the regulations on EYFS staff:child ratios. This is the number of qualified staff, at different qualification levels, an early years setting needs to have in order to meet the needs of all children and ensure their safety. These regulations are set out in the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS). Providers must make sure staff have the appropriate qualifications to count in the ratios, including the need to have at least 1 staff member trained in paediatric first aid.
DfE defines the qualifications that staff must hold to count in EYFS staff:child ratios. Providers can use our early years qualifications lists to:
- check if a person’s qualification meets the approved ‘full and relevant’ criteria for early years qualifications
- confirm if a person counts in the EYFS staff:child ratios
If a person holds a level 2 qualification that meets the level 2 full and relevant criteria (see below), you can count them towards the EYFS staff:child ratios at level 2.
If a person holds a qualification at level 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 that meets the level 3 full and relevant criteria, you can count them towards the EYFS staff:child ratios at level 3.
Depending on whether the qualification was started before or after 1 September 2014, you may also need suitable level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications.
Qualifications started before 1 September 2014
Staff who completed or registered for a qualification before 1 September 2014 must hold a qualification that meets the full and relevant criteria for early years qualifications in order to count towards the level 2 or level 3 EYFS staff:child ratios. They do not need to hold level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications.
Search our full list of pre-September 2014 early years qualifications.
Qualifications started after 1 September 2014
From 1 September 2014, all level 2 early years qualifications meet the relevant full and relevant criteria if they are:
- early years (0 to 5 years) related
- Ofqual-approved and included on Ofqual’s list of regulated qualifications
From 1 September 2014, all level 3 qualifications must meet the early years educator criteria. This means that all staff who have registered for a qualification since that date can be counted in the EYFS staff:child ratios at level 3 if they hold:
- a level 3 early years educator qualification
- suitable level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications
Search our full list of early years qualifications that meet the early years educator criteria.
If a person holds a level 3 early years qualification but does not have suitable level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications, you can only count them at level 2 in the EYFS staff:child ratios.
These are the minimum qualification requirements that we expect staff to have if they want to work in an early years setting. However, employers can set their own requirements when recruiting staff if they wish.
We also do not set entry requirements for early years training courses. Training providers set their own entry requirements for entry to courses.
Paediatric first aid (PFA)
Newly qualified staff with a level 2 or level 3 early years qualification, awarded after 30 June 2016, must also have either a full paediatric first aid (PFA) or an emergency PFA certificate within 3 months of starting work. If they do not have this you cannot count them in the EYFS staff:child ratios at level 2 or level 3.
You may also wish to encourage new staff to complete PFA training so that your early years setting can apply for Millie’s Mark. This is a voluntary quality mark awarded to settings where all staff have an appropriate PFA qualification.
Early childhood studies (ECS) and related degrees
Staff who graduated since 1 September 2014 with a degree in early childhood studies (ECS) or a related degree count at level 3 in the staff:child ratios, as long as they:
- took a qualification that was consistent with the QAA subject benchmark statement for ECS (training providers will provide this clarification)
- took a qualification with an element of assessed performance in an early years setting
- hold suitable level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications
Qualified teacher and early years teacher status
Staff count towards the EYFS staff:child ratios at level 3 or 6 if they have been awarded:
- qualified teacher status (QTS)
- early years teacher status (EYTS)
- early years professional status (EYPS)
They do not need separate level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications. This applies to people awarded QTS, EYTS or EYPS before and after 1 September 2014.
We have worked with UK National Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) to develop a ‘statement of comparability for the early years sector’ (SOCEYS) for people with an overseas qualifications.
Prospective staff with an overseas qualification should use the UK NARIC website to:
- apply for a statement (there is a charge for this service).
- work out if their qualification meets the necessary full and relevant criteria
- work out which level in the EYFS staff-to-child ratios the qualification counts towards
Scottish/Welsh/Northern Irish qualifications
The early years educator qualifications that started on 1 September 2014 are for England only. Anyone with a qualification from another nation of the UK, who you want to count at level 3 in the EYFS staff:child ratios may need to:
- take additional modules as part of their course (see below)
- attain appropriate level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications
Qualifications started after September 2014 for learners from Wales and Northern Ireland
People with a Level 3 children’s care learning and development (Wales and NI) qualification also need to achieve the following 4 optional units:
- R/504/2191 - Support children’s language, literacy and communication
- L/504/2190 - Support children’s mathematical development
- A/601/0121 - Work with babies and young children to promote their development and learning
- M/502/3812 - Engage with parents in their children’s early learning
Qualifications started after September 2014 for learners from Scotland
People with a Scottish Vocational Qualification 3: children’s care, learning and development at SCQF Level 7, who wish to count at level 3 in the EYFS staff:child ratios, also need to achieve the following 5 optional units:
- DA09 04 (CCLD 345) – Support literacy development
- DA0A 04 (CCLD 346) – Help pupils to develop their numeracy skills
- DT1N 04 (CCLD 325) – Support children and young people during transitions in their lives
- DT1G 04 (CCLD 321) – Support children with additional support needs and their families
- DR8M 04 (CCLD 309) – Plan and implement curriculum frameworks for early education
Nurses registered before 1 September 2014 count towards the EYFS staff:child ratios at level 3, if they are designated as follows on the revised Nursing and Midwifery Council register for nurses, midwives and specialist community public health nurses:
Nurses register – sub part 1
- RN8: children’s nurse level 1
- RNC: children’s nurse, level 1
- RN2: registered adult nurse, level 1
Nurses register - sub part 2
- RN7: general nurse, level 2
- RM: midwife
Specialist community public health nursing register
- RHV: health visitor
- HV: health visitor
- RSN: school nurse
- SN: school nurse
- SPC: specialist practitioner
- children’s nursing
- SPCC: specialist practitioner: community children’s nursing
Nursing qualifications for nurses registered on or after 1 September 2014 do not meet the full and relevant criteria for early years qualifications and do not count in the EYFS staff:child ratios.
Qualifications that do not meet the criteria
A person must have a qualification that meets the full and relevant criteria for early years qualifications to count towards the early years EYFS staff:child ratios.
Health and social care qualifications do not meet the full and relevant criteria.
Level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications
Staff who have a qualification awarded since 1 September 2014 that meets the full and relevant criteria must also have suitable level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications to count towards the EYFS staff:child ratios at level 3.
- functional skills qualification in English at level 2
- GCSE/International GCSE qualification in English language and/or literature to at least grade C (grade 4)
- key skills qualification in communication at level 2
- A level or AS level qualification in English language and/or English literature to at least grade E
- O Level qualification in English to at least grade C
- CSE grade 1 English (language)
Also recognised Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh equivalents.
- functional skills qualification in maths at level 2
- GCSE/International GCSE qualification in maths to at least grade C (grade 4)
- key skills qualification in application of number at level 2
- A level or AS level qualification in maths or pure maths and/or further maths to at least grade E
- O level qualification in maths to at least grade C
- CSE grade 1 maths
Also recognised Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh equivalents.
Early years apprenticeships
Apprentices can complete an early years educator qualification by itself or as part of the advanced apprenticeship for the children and young people’s workforce.
Apprentices working in early years settings do not count towards the EYFS staff:child ratios until they have qualified.
Use our contact us form if you have any queries.
Published: 25 April 2014
Updated: 21 June 2017
- Updated text to show policy changes to literacy and numeracy requirements and revised apprenticeships information.
- Content updated and new links added to the level 3 educator qualifications.
- New apprenticeship standards
- First published.
From: Department for Education