BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Children’s Play, Learning and Development (Early Years Assistant)

BTEC Level 2 Diploma
1 year
Curriculum Manager: 
Nicola Maxfield

What is the BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Children’s Play, Learning and Development?

This is a one year course for anyone who is interested in working with children aged 0- 5 years. It is equivalent to four GCSEs at A* - C. You will study a variety of topics including child development, working in early years settings, caring for children and supporting children’s learning through play. 

Is the BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Children’s Play, Learning and Development suitable for me?

This course is suitable for anyone who wants to work with children and success in the course will mean that you are qualified to work with children at level two. It involves 280 hours of work experience. This will be completed by one day a week in placement as well as block placements.  Probably the most important challenge for students is learning how to take more responsibility for organising their own time so that they balance college work, part-time jobs and other commitments.

How will I learn?

Lessons in the classroom will include a mixture of formats including group work, individual activities, guest speakers, role plays, using case studies and some formal note-taking sessions. Some study support is provided in College to help students with their assignments and other homework. Students should also expect to spend up to ten hours per week outside of lessons on homework.

How will I be assessed?

You will study a number of units during this one year course. Most of the units are assessed by coursework - and this may include the production of portfolios, presentations, practical projects and staff observations. There are two external assessments, policy and practice for working in Early Years Settings and child development from birth up to five years. This qualification has 100% mandatory content and 25% external assessment. 

For each unit you complete you will be awarded a Pass, Merit or Distinction grade. You will also be awarded an overall grade which will be at Pass, Merit and Distinction.


After the course, many students who achieve a Merit or Distinction grade have the opportunity to go on to study the BTEC Level 3 course in Children’s  Play Learning and Development providing that they have GCSE English or Maths at grade C or above. It is also possible to go directly into the work place as you will be professionally qualified at level two.

What could this qualification lead to?

Achieving this qualification will give an advantage when applying for a job in the early years sector.  The types of roles in the early years settings could include; preschool assistant, nursery assistant, early years assistant and childminder’s helper. 

Entry requirements

You would normally have achieved a Grade D profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced, a Grade 3 is equivalent to a Grade D. To study this subject you should have an interest in working with children. Students will undergo a check by the Disclosure and Barring Service to ensure suitability to work with children.

Course costs

All students will be expected to provide their own textbook and stationery. Any further costs are outlined below:

Essential: £20 for textbooks, £12.50 for a placement polo-shirt

In addition you may need to pay for a DBS check, if you have not already had one.

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.



BTEC Extended Diploma in Children's Play, Learning and Development

BTEC Level 3 Diploma
2 years
Curriculum Manager: 
Nicola Maxfield

What is the National Extended Diploma in Children’s Play, Learning and Development?

This is a two year course that is equivalent to three A levels and carries a maximum of 168 UCAS points. It will also give you occupational competence to work with children at level 3.

You will study a number of units which includes topics such as:

  • Child Development which looks at all areas of development for children aged 0 to 8 years 
  • Play and learning in Early Years Settings which looks at the different aspects of play for children aged 0 to 8 years and how you can facilitate purposeful play and learning activities for children.
  • Meeting Children’s Physical Development, Physical Care and Health Needs which looks at diet, exercise, routines, activities and illness.
  • Child Protection which looks at the types and indicators of child abuse and how we respond to concerns
  • Working with Parents and in Early Years which involves parents' rights, building relationships with parents, working in a team.

Is the National Extended Diploma in Children’s Play, Learning and Development suitable for me?

Many students like BTEC courses because it is mostly coursework and assessed throughout the course so that they have a clear idea of how they are doing and what grades they are achieving. Staff provide students with regular feedback about their work and students tell us that they appreciate the support given. Continuous assessment does mean that students need to work consistently hard throughout the two years, often on more than one piece of coursework at a time, to achieve a good grade. Good time management skills are therefore very important.

Work experience is an important part of the course and gives students a real insight into working in various childcare settings and the opportunity to practise their skills. It can also help students to make decisions about future careers.

How will I learn?

You will have a mixture of formal and less formal learning experiences. Some sessions will be in the form of lectures but you will also participate in a mixture of activities – whether working individually or in groups. You will participate in role plays, discussions and presentations. Some time will be available for supported independent study to help you with course work and your own research.

As with other A level courses homework is a vital part of your studies. On average you will be expected to do between 8 and 10 hours per week but you may need to allocate more time when assignments are due.

How will I be assessed?

Unit 1 is assessed by means of an exam which is based around case studies and how children learn. Units 2 and 4 are assessed through a task set and marked by the exam board. The other units are assessed internally by your staff and then moderated by the exam board. Your work will be graded pass, merit, distinction or distinction*. You will also need to complete a Personal Evidence Record folder for your practical work.

Work experience

This is a necessary part of the course. You have to complete at least 750 hours in three different settings. College will help with finding and organising placement

Entry requirements

Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C. Alternatively if you have studied at level 2 you should have achieved a merit or above. Vocational courses are an ideal qualification for students who prefer coursework. To study this course you should have an interest in working with people.

You must also have a clear DBS check; this is the old criminal records bureau check. It is very important as we must be confident to send you out on placements with vulnerable people.

Course costs

You will need to purchase course materials which includes three text books, at least one polo shirt (purchased through college) for placement and in addition you may need to pay for a DBS check.



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