This is a 2 year professional programme leading to the Advanced Certificate at Level 6, and learners can progress to the ELC Level 6 award if they have achieved the ELC Level 5 award or if they have gone through an RPL (recognised prior learning) process. There is an embedded award, a Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning and Care, which can be achieved if learners exit the programme after 1 year.

For the first time in the history of the ELC sector, the workforce will have access to a suite of professional awards from entry level qualifications at Level 5 to honours degree level, that recognise the value of professionals at all these levels working in ELC settings across the country.

It will prepare graduate for a profession which requires a strong commitment to lifelong learning and continuous professional development to meet the dynamic and evolving nature of the context and demands of professional practice in early childhood education and care.

Stage 1 (Level 5 certificate)

  • 5C21523: Professional Practice Placements in Early Learning and Care:- The purpose of this module is to equip the learner with knowledge, skills and competence to work in a professional capacity under supervision, to understand the role of an Early Learning and Care professional and the importance of Personal and Professional Development in the ELC World. The learner will  learn how to engage in Professional Development Planning, Research skills, Academic Writing skills, Digital skills and Interview skills. They will also work under supervision demonstrating the required competence, values and work practices to build reciprocal, responsive and respectful working relationships with all stakeholders in the best interest of babies, toddlers and young children.
  • 5C21524: Children’s Rights, Legislation and Regulation: – The purpose of this module is to introduce learners to Children’s Rights such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Essential Legislation and Constitutional Protections for Children, Regulations, as well as Frameworks such as Aistear and Siolta, enabling them to work effectively under direction with children, their families and all stakeholders within a range of ELC settings. The Learner will learn how to, for example, explore the rights of children and their families as underpinned by national and international developments in order to inform best practice, review of experiences that promote children’s holistic development,  and identify current child protection legislation.
  • 5C21526: Early Childhood Growth and Development:- The purpose of this module is to introduce learners to growth and development in early childhood, linking theory with practice to support holistic development and inclusive learning. Learners will learn how to explain the main stages and patterns of holistic child development from 0-6 years, outline a range of theories of child development and learning, describe factors that may influence or impact a child’s development and learning, explore the contribution of families and other adults to the development and learning of the child, carry out observations informed by principles of child development in consultation with stakeholders to support programme planning in line with current legislation guidelines and frameworks.
  • 5C21527: Curriculum, Play and Creative Studies:- The purpose of this module is to equip the learner with knowledge, skills and competence to engage with curricular approaches, through mediums of play and creative opportunities, encompassing diversity, identity and cultural contexts within the world of Early Years Education. The learner will learn how to facilitate creative opportunities such as art, music and drama as well as plan experiences and activities with regard to the age and development of the child
  • 5C21528: Understanding and Assisting Children with Additional Needs:- The purpose of this module is to provide the learner with an introduction to the knowledge and skills relevant to the theory and practice of inclusive education and care of children with additional needs in the early learning and care (ELC) setting, looking at the rights of children with additional needs and those of their families and relevant legislation and best practice guidelines. The Learner will learn how to create an accessible, inclusive experience for the child with additional needs in the ELC setting in line with best practice guidelines and framework, Explore the importance of working as part of a team, as well as engage in reflective practice.
  • 5C21525: Holistic Care of Children (birth to six yrs): – The purpose of this module is to provide the learner with knowledge, skills and competence required for the holistic care, wellbeing, safety and health of babies, toddlers and young children in the ELC setting, through a balance of theory and hands on practical skills needed for ELC. The Learner will learn how to explain the key care routines,  Implement a range of practice skills to provide for the care, health, wellbeing and safety of babies, toddlers and young children in ELC as well as apply the relevant legislation, regulations, frameworks, policies and procedures which impact the holistic well-being of children in their care.
  • 5N1786: Special Needs Assisting:-  This module explores the role and responsibilities, qualities and skills of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) and examines the relevant legislation in relation to disability. It explores the rights of children in relation to personal autonomy, participation and decision making and enables the learner to maintain appropriate relationships with children, parents, primary carers, teachers and other members of the multi-disciplinary team, whilst working effectively with children who present with disabilities under the direction of the classroom teacher. Learners will learn how to outline the role and responsibilities of the Special Needs Assistant, relate effectively and appropriately to children who present with additional need, as well as assist these children in a range of activities, ensuring equality of opportunity through working in a safe and professional manner

Leaving Certificate, LCA or QQI Level 4. Mature students are exempt from Leaving Certificate requirement.

All applicants are interviewed and Garda vetted. Police clearance is required for non-Irish nationals. Minimum English language and literacy competence at entry to the programme for speakers of English as a second language would be B2 in writing, reading, listening and speaking.

An offer of a place on this course is contingent on the applicant meeting the entry requirements set out here and satisfactory presentation at interview.

This proposed curriculum structure ensures there is a clear professional pathway to Level 7 & 8 on the NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications). See our progressions page for details.

After Year 1 students will have  a Professional Qualification in Early Learning Care Level 5.  After Year 2 students will have a Professional Qualification in Early Learning Care Level 6.  Students can work in pre-schools and crèches and can work as a Child Minder in the home.

  • Duration: 1 year.
  • Fees: €300 including QQI examination fees. Medical card holders exempt €50. See Payment for details.
  • Certification: QQI Certificate in Early Learning and Care 5M21471. There is an embedded award, a Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning and Care, which can be achieved if learners exit the programme after 1 year.
  • Work Experience: Students will undertake 150 hours of Professional Practice in a minimum of 2 early Years of Early Years settings per annum. The settings will include birth -2 yrs 8 months, and 2 yrs 8 months to 6 years. All Professional Practice placements must be carried out with an ELC provider currently registered with TUSLA. Learners must be garda vetted before going on the placement. Learners must complete the current Children First E-Learning programme before going on placement.  

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