Most clubs are exempt from qualification requirements
Since September 2014, out of school clubs on the Early Years Register have been exempt from the requirement to employ staff with 'full and relevant' childcare or playwork qualifications — so long as all the children are in the Reception Year or older. Of course it is still a good idea to employ qualified staff, but it is now down to individual employers to decide what qualifications are appropriate for their settings.
Children who are younger than Reception
However, if your club takes any children who are younger than the Reception Year— for example if the school has a nursery class— then you do still need to meet the standard Early Years qualification requirements for the staff caring for these youngest children. This means that:
- the manager must have a 'full and relevant' Level 3 qualification (or above)
- at least one member of staff at each session must have a 'full and relevant' Level 3 qualification (or above)
- half the remaining staff must have a 'full and relevant' Level 2 qualification (or above).
Pre-September 2014 qualifications
For staff who obtained a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification (or above) — or who began their training — before 1 September 2014, there is a definitve list of recognised 'full and relevant' qualifications on the Department for Education website. This list includes the Level 3 NVQ and Level 3 Diploma in Playwork.
See the full list of recognised qualifications >
Note that if a member of staff has a pre-September 2014 qualification that isn't included on the list, there is also a search tool on the DfE website.
Post-September 2014 qualifications
For staff who started their training after 1 September 2014, only qualifications that meet the Early Years Educator (EYE) criteria are counted as 'full and relevant' for registered Early Years settings. The DfE website has a list of the qualifications that currently meet the EYE criteria. As a general rule, if the qualification has the words 'Early Years Educator' in its title, it is considered 'full and relevant'.
Download the current list of qualifications which meet the EYE criteria >
It is notable that no playwork courses are currently included in the list of acceptable post-September 2014 qualifications.
English and Maths skills
Anyone with a Level 3 EYE qualification must also have a recognised Level 2 qualification in English and Maths, in order to be counted as Level 3 qualified staff in staffing ratios. If they obtain a Level 3 EYE qualification but don't also have an appropriate English and Maths qualification, they can only be counted as Level 2 staff in staffing ratios.
Since April 2017, the Maths and English requirements for the Level 3 Early Years Educators qualification have been broadened so that a GCSE grade C in Maths and English is no longer the only recognised qualification. Other Level 2 qualifications are now also acceptable, including Functional Skills, Key Skills, O levels, etc. A summary of what Maths and English qualifications are considered acceptable is available on the DfE website:
See the summary of acceptable Maths and English qualifications >
If a member of staff has a recognised 'full and relevant' qualification which they obtained, or began, before 1 September 2014 there is no requirement for them to also have a recognised qualification in English and Maths.
What does all this mean for out of school clubs?
So how do these changes to 'full and relevant' qualifications affect out of school clubs?
- Most out of school clubs — ie those which only take children of Reception age or above — will not be affected. You can decide for yourself what qualifications you want your staff to have.
- Clubs which take children who are under Reception age do still need to have staff with recognised 'full and relevant' qualifications, but if these qualifications were obtained or commenced before 1 September 2014 the list of qualifications that are acceptable is unchanged. For example, the Level 3 NVQ in Playwork would be acceptable.
- Clubs which take children who are under Reception age, and which employ staff who started their training after 1 September 2014, must ensure that their staff have a recognised EYE qualification and that they also have a recognised Maths and English Level 2 qualification if they want to be able to count those staff members as Level 3 in their staffing ratios.