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 to start in September 2022 are open now!***

We want to make sure you have the best chance of securing a place with us. All full-time applications received by 31st of January 2022 will be guaranteed a place at Colchester Institute, subject to you satisfying the published entry requirements. We still accept applications after this date but may not be able to guarantee you a place on your chosen programme.

Application for this course are made by the ‘Apply Online’ buttons located in the menu further down the page.

If you are looking to start, or are a parent/guardian of a learner looking to start in September 2022, then bookings for our popular January Open Events are also open.

January Open Events

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 2022 - Applications open on 1st October 2021
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.