Early Years Educator Level 3 – T Level

The Early Years Educator Level 3 – T Level course is suitable for learners aged 16-18 wanting a career in early years education, childcare or assisting teaching. It is a level 3 qualification studied over a two-year programme.

Course Info
Do I have to pay a fee?
How to make an Application
Parents and Carers Info
Other courses in this area
Who is the course for?

Who is it suitable for?

This qualification is suitable for 16-18 year old students looking to develop both knowledge and practical skills in the Education and Early Years sector.

This Technical qualification will support students on a range of progression routes including employment, higher education and higher apprenticeships.

The course includes a minimum of 45 days working with an employer in an industry placement and will include enrichment activities such as trips and guest speakers.

About this qualification

The technical qualification (TQ) forms part of the new T Level study programme.

The purpose of the Level 3 technical qualification is to ensure students have the knowledge and the practical abilities needed to progress either into skilled employment, or higher education or via a higher-level apprenticeship. The T Level is a full-time course.


Our Early Years Centre

A new centre for our first T-Level!

From September 2023 we will be starting our first T-Level at Colchester Institute and it will be in Early Years. To ensure we provide the best possible experiences for students, Colchester Institute has heavily invested in the new Early Years Centre, not only, in providing state-of-the-art facilities but ensuring that all staff from senior leadership down are fully dedicated to providing students with everything required to succeed. Our Principal and Chief Executive Alison Andreas and Chair of the Colchester Institute Corporation Board Kevin Prince officially opened the new Early Years Centre at the start of December. The Centre was supported by T Level Buildings and Facilities Improvement Grant received from the Department for Education.

Principal and Chief Executive Alison Andreas and Chair of the Colchester Institute Corporation Board Kevin Prince officially open the new Early Years Centre
The New Early Years Centre at Colchester Institute

T Levels are Level 3 qualifications that follow on from GCSEs. They are the equivalent to three A Levels and are new qualifications that will combine classroom theory, practical learning, and an industry placement working with an employer for 45 days.

The two-year T Level courses have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work.

They will provide excellent destinations for students, including full-time skilled employment, higher-level apprenticeships and Higher Education degrees.

What will I Learn?

All students will develop an understanding of:

  • Understanding the Education and Childcare sector from ages 0 to 19
  • Child Development
  • How to support children and young people’s education
  • Safeguarding, health and safety and wellbeing
  • Understanding and managing behaviour
  • Observing and assessing children and young people
  • Equality and diversity
  • Special educational needs and disability
  • English as an additional language
  • Working with parents, carers and wider families
  • Working with agencies and services that support children, families and carers
  • Reflective practice and other forms of professional development

In addition to the core content, each student will follow the specialism of the Early Years Educator.

Course Structure

How is this qualification structured?

The technical qualification is split into 2 component parts:

Core component: the knowledge and underpinning concepts, theories and principles as well as core skills for the education and childcare sector and the Occupational specialism of the Early Years Educator.

The occupational specialism section provides students with knowledge and skills required to enter employment or further study in the specific occupational area.

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

Experience in the workplace

Industry placements are intended to provide students with the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for skilled employment in their chosen occupation which are less easily attainable by doing a qualification alone.


How is it assessed?

Core component:

  • Paper A written examination
  • Paper B written examination
  • Employer-Set Project

In order to achieve a grade for the core component, students must have results for both sub-components (the core (written) examination and the employer-set project).

The combined results from these sub-components will be aggregated to form the overall core component grade (A*–E and U).

If students fail to reach the minimum standard across all sub-components, they will receive a U grade. No overall grade will be issued for the core component until both sub-components have been attempted.

Occupational specialism component:

  • Synoptic assignments

The student is also required to successfully achieve a Distinction/Merit/Pass grade in the occupational specialism component. If the student fails to reach the specified level of attainment, they will receive a U grade.

Entry Requirements
  • 5 GCSEs (9-4) including English and Maths, or satisfactory results (Merit/Distinction) in a relevant Level 2 qualification and successful completion of the NCFE Level 3 Award in Higher Level Studies
  • An interview
  • Satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS*) check is also required.

T Levels are currently only offered to 16-18 year olds.

*Please note there is a charge of approximately £50 for a DBS check.

Course Progression

What related qualifications can you progress to?

Students who achieve this qualification could progress to employment, higher apprenticeship or higher education:

The T Level study programme is eligible for UCAS points. On successful completion of this course you could progress to study for a degree in areas such as social work, primary school teaching or early years.

All students aged 16-18 on the first day of their course will have their course fully-funded by the government.

Costs of studying

If you are/will be aged 16, 17 or 18 on the 31st August in the calendar year when you begin a programme of study, you DO NOT pay tuition fees, College registration fees or examination/board registration fees. However, there are some courses which have additional costs which could include:

  • equipment costs – such as uniforms, kits, boots, etc.
  • trips and enrichment activities
  • DBS checks (formerly CRB checks)

For students with an identified low household income, there may be financial support available. Bursary awards can help with your course related costs such as travel, books and equipment and much more.

How to make an Application – Watch our video guide!

****Applications for courses starting in September 2023 are now closed****

Advice sessions for courses starting in September 2023 have now finished.

Whilst term has started, there may still be places remaining on some of our course areas, however many of our courses are now full, and there is no guarantee of a space on any course.

Please email admissions@colchester.ac.uk with your full name and contact details, including telephone number, subject area(s) of interest and GCSE grades, so that we can arrange for someone to contact you and discuss your options.

The application window for full-time courses and joint apprenticeship applications starting in September 2024 opens on Monday 2nd October at 12pm.

Before submitting your online application, make sure you have got an email address which you will check frequently and which is professional and appropriate for this purpose, and use this when you create your account. Submit the application as early as possible and remember to make a note of your USERNAME and PASSWORD details! You will need these later.

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

Application Do's and Don'ts

Application Tips

If you have chosen the study programme you would like to apply for then you are almost there. We recommend that you read our handy application tips, watch our video and then make your application.

You can only apply for one full-time programme and one apprenticeship. You can do this together within the same application form, in what is known as a joint application.

Remember, you cannot study more than one core subject.  For example, you would not be able to study two full-time programmes in different subjects simultaneously. You would take Plumbing or Music, not Plumbing and Music.

Your subject will be your primary qualification and forms the bulk of your programme of study.

Application Dos

  • Apply as early as possible. We start accepting applications from 2nd October 2023 and have set an initial deadline of 31st January 2024 for a priority application on your chosen programme (subject to you satisfying the entry requirements), although we still accept applications after this date but may not be able to guarantee you a place on your chosen programme.
  • Think carefully about your course choice before you apply. Talk to your head of year or careers adviser at school to make sure you have explored all your options and have found a course that suits you best. You may wish to attend one of our open days to find out more before applying.
  • Make sure you attend any interviews or assessments we invite you to. These are a mandatory part of our process. They give you the opportunity to find out more about our courses, as well as allowing us to make sure you are on the most appropriate course for you. Some courses may invite you to attend a second interview or audition to demonstrate your skills and to ensure you are on the most appropriate level for you.
  • Please let us know if your contact details or address change. We will use a variety of letters, emails and texts to communicate with you throughout the process, and the information we provide is both confidential and vital to your application. If you move home or change your phone number and don’t inform us of any changes, you could miss some vital information.

Application Don’ts

  • Do not make multiple applications. If you are unsure, for example, of which construction/trade subject you would like to study, please only make an application for one of them. Likewise, if you later wish you had applied for a different course, please don’t worry – we can change your application. Whatever the reason for wanting to change, there is no need to make another application.
  • Do not use a school email address when you create your account. Remember, you will need to access this account later in the summer after you have left school.
  • Do not create another account if you have previously applied. If you have applied in previous years, please do not create a new account. If you are unsure, contact us to check which username and password to use.

Just call us on 01206 712777

Parents and Carers Guide to T Levels

What are T Levels

T Levels are Level 3 qualifications that follow on from GCSEs.

They are the equivalent to three A Levels and are new qualifications that combine classroom theory, practical learning, and an industry placement. They are ideal for students who enjoy learning through practical experience and real-life situations.

The Early Years Educator T Level course includes a minimum of 45 days working with an employer in an industry placement and will include enrichment activities such as trips and guest speakers.

The two-year T Level courses have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work.

They will provide excellent destinations for students, including full-time skilled employment, higher-level apprenticeships and Higher Education degrees.

What are the advantages of T Levels

T Levels are an exciting option for post-16 education, providing a recognised qualification that is tailored to industry needs and skills.

For students looking to learn practical skills relevant to a particular job role or career path, irrespective of whether they want to go on to university to study for a degree or go straight into the workplace after year 13, T Levels are a great choice.

They are a good fit for students that aren’t interested in theory but want to learn what they’ll need to know in the workplace.

T Levels broaden the study choices for 16 years olds. They can offer a clear path to employment although, should your teen start the course and realise that industry or specialism it is not for them, there are still plenty of options for them to continue higher education or get work in a different industry once the T Level is complete.

What does the course consist of?

T Level courses consist of the following:

  • an approved technical qualification specific to the chosen industry area with compulsory elements and, in some cases, optional specialisms;
  • an industry placement in their chosen industry area, which might be offered as day release or as a concentrated block;
  • a minimum standard in English and maths (if this had not already been achieved).

What do learners get at the end?

Students receive a nationally recognised grade and a breakdown of their achievements on the course, including how they did on their work placement.

If they don’t pass all elements of their T Level, they’ll receive a T Level statement of achievement outlining what has been completed.

How does the Industry Placement work?

A fantastic element of T Levels is the industry placement – a real job in a genuine business. Sometimes this is offered in one block, sometimes as one day each week, or it can be other combinations that suit the company.

The College will source work placements for all T Level students. For Early Years we have long established, excellent relationships with over 100 childcare providers and schools in North Essex. We have specialised staff who will visit you in the workplace and check that you are competent in your practice and that your learning is going well.

This first-hand work experience is hugely beneficial to students, enabling them to get a feel for what it’s like in the world of work and whether they like the field they’ve chosen – it’s not too late to make a change post- 18 if they don’t!

The placement can result in some students being offered jobs after they’ve completed their T Level and for those going on to higher education after college, their work experience will be impressive on their UCAS application personal statement.

Can they go to University with a T Level?

Yes, students with a T Level qualification can go on to study for a degree or a related higher-level apprenticeship.

When searching for a university course, you’ll find the entry requirements include a minimum number of UCAS points. This will often be 112 UCAS points, although this will vary from course to course, however most universities seem to accept that 112 UCAS points are the standard for the average UK student. Universities will also assess their candidates on many different factors as part of their criteria.

T Level qualifications will be graded overall as Distinction*, Distinction, Merit, Pass, and there will be grades for each aspect of the course.

The table below shows the UCAS value of each grade type. T Level grades offer the following UCAS points (shown with A level equivalents).

UCAS Tariff PointsT Level Overall GradeA Level

Early Years Educator Level 3 - T Level
Qualification: T Level Technical Qualification In Education And Early Years (Level 3) (Delivered By Ncfe)
LevelLevel 3
DurationTwo Years
Study ModeFull-Time
Campus / Adult Skills CentreColchester Campus
Start DateSeptember 2023
Fee(s)16-18 year old study programme only: Free
Awarding/Validation BodyNCFE


All fees, prices and funding information shown on this page are for courses starting in the 2023-24 academic year unless stated otherwise, and are correct at the time of entering/printing information, however these may be subject to change due to factors outside of our control. The College cannot accept legal or financial liability as a result of any such changes.

Courses fees are generally not confirmed for September until June / July due to the above factors.

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.