Children’s Play, Learning and Development Level 3

This programme is designed to help you build the knowledge and childcare skills needed when working with children and young people from birth to eight years. It is a level 3 qualification studied over a two-year programme.

National Skills Level 3 Offer

From April 2021, the Lifetime Skills Guarantee gives adult learners (who will be studying for their first full Level 3 qualification) the opportunity to study a fully-funded course. It is part of the government’s National Skills Fund to help adults to gain the skills they need for employment, and to improve their job prospects.

This Level 3 course offered at Colchester Institute is included in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

This programme will be free if you meet the eligibility criteria listed below. If these do not apply, you may need to pay a fee, and the fee is located further down the course information page. You can apply for a loan to cover all of your tuition fees.

Do I have to pay a fee?

This course will be free:

  • If you are aged 19+ and enrolling on a full level 3 course and you do not already have a qualification at this level*. (In some cases, if you need to enrol on a lower level to be able to progress to Level 3 you may also be eligible for free training)

* This means that you have not previously attained a full level 3 or equivalent (2 A Levels or 4 AS Levels, or QAA Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma at level 3, or a level 3 Tech level or applied general qualification (e.g. BTEC)).

Applications for full-time courses have now closed.

If you have not yet made an application to study at Colchester Institute then you will need to book onto an Advice Session where you can speak to a course tutor post-results day.

Whilst we cannot guarantee that a place will be available on your preferred choice at this late stage in the application cycle, we will help to get you sorted for September.

Advice sessions are by appointment only and will be available to book from 10am on Thursday 12th August. As soon as bookings have opened, you will be able to use the appointment calendar to book an advice session. Information about our advice sessions and how to book can be accessed here:

Advice Session Information

Who is the course for?

The course is aimed at those who wish to work, or are working at an unsupervised level in the children and young people’s workforce in England. The programme will prepare you to work in a wide range of settings, with different professionals and volunteers who provide services for children and their families. The course is for those wishing to work in a specialised field of employment in the 0-8 years age range or continue to higher education.

What Will I Learn?

Practical work-based training forms a large part of this programme. You are required to undertake a minimum of 750 placement hours in a minimum of three different settings, covering the age groups 0-2, 2-5 and 5-8. You will also complete a Practical Evidence Portfolio. You will also engage in activities to develop your English, maths and employability skills.

Course Content

Practical work based training forms a large part of this programme. Theoretical work includes the following modules of study, and several optional modules that are not listed:

Children’s Play, Learning and Development Level 3 units may include:

  • Special Educational Needs
  • Promoting Children’s Development
  • Literacy and Numeracy in Schools
  • Supporting Children’s Speech and Language and Communication
  • Working with Babies and Young Children

You are required to undertake a minimum of 750 placement hours in a minimum of three different settings, covering the age groups 0-2, 2-5 and 5-8. You will also complete a Practical Evidence Portfolio.

Some units will be internally assessed, using a range of methods; others will be assessed externally and by exam.

Entry Requirements
  • 5 GCSEs (9-4) including English and Maths, or satisfactory results (Merit/Distinction) in a relevant Level 2 qualification or equivalent A Level
  • An interview
  • Satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS*) check is also required.

*Please note there is a charge of £44 for a DBS check.

Career Opportunities

This qualification enjoys an excellent reputation for its suitability across the whole spectrum of childcare employment including teaching, children’s centres, day nurseries, schools and social work, special needs and play therapists.

Course Progression

On successful completion of this course you may progress to study for a degree in areas such as social work, primary school teaching or early years.

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How to make an Application – Watch our video guide!

We have also prepared a step-by-step video guide – please view this video which will guide you through the application process.

Children's Play, Learning and Development Level 3
LevelLevel 3
DurationTwo Years: Year 1: Foundation Diploma | Year 2: Extended Diploma
CampusColchester Campus
Braintree Campus
Start DateSeptember 2021 - Applications open on 1st October 2020
Fee(s)16-18 year olds: Free
19+: £7,395* (This fee covers the full two-year course)
*This course will be free to any adult meeting the eligibility criteria under the Lifetime Skills Guarantee


All Fees and prices shown on this page are for courses starting in the 2021-22 academic year unless stated otherwise, and are correct at the time of entering/printing information, however these may be subject to change. The College cannot accept legal or financial liability as a result of any such changes.

The course information describes programmes offered by Colchester Institute. The College takes all reasonable steps to provide courses as described, but cannot guarantee provision. The information is for guidance and does not form any part of a contract.

The College reserves the right to update and amend information as and when necessary. Colchester Institute will do its best to provide the courses shown, but may have to modify or withdraw a course depending on customer demand and other factors.