Early Years Educator | EPA Standards | NCFE | NCFE

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EPA Standard

Early Years Educator

Level 3     £6,000      18 months

1. What the role entails

Early Years Educators, and other job roles such as nursery nurses and childminders, are highly-trained professionals who play a key role in making sure that young children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. They work in a range of settings including full day care, children’s centres, preschools, reception classes and childminders.

Entry: apprentices will undergo all the checks as per the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements to ensure suitability to work with children.

2. On-programme assessment

Before entering Gateway, the apprentice must complete the following on-programme assessment requirements:

  • Level 2 English and maths
  • Level 3 Early Years Educator qualification
  • Level 3 Award in Paediatric First Aid (RQF) or Level 3 Award in Emergency Paediatric First Aid (RQF) or a first aid course as per the EYFS requirements.

3. Gateway requirements

The employer, independent training provider (ITP) and apprentice make the decision to take the apprentice through Gateway. The apprentice must achieve all the required on-programme elements before they enter Gateway, including a Portfolio of Evidence that will underpin the Professional Discussion (video evidence can be withheld for the IEPA to view at the employer’s premises).

4. End-point assessment

The EPA for Early Years Educator contains two methods of assessment:

Knowledge Test

The Knowledge Test features 35 multiple-choice questions carrying one mark each and will last for 60 minutes. The assessment must be taken under controlled conditions via an online platform (a paper-based assessment is available at an additional charge).

Grading: the Knowledge Test is ungraded above a Pass. The apprentice must correctly answer a minimum of 23 questions (including all 5 safeguarding questions) to achieve a Pass.

Professional Discussion underpinned by a Portfolio

The Professional Discussion is a structured discussion of 90 minutes (+10%), underpinned by the Portfolio. The Professional Discussion will offer a full synoptic assessment of the apprentice, testing aspects of knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) identified in the assessment plan. The apprentice will complete the Portfolio of Evidence during the on-programme learning and will enable the Independent End-Point Assessor (IEPA) to prepare for the Professional Discussion. It should cover the KSBs to be assessed by the Professional Discussion.

Grading: the IEPA grades the Professional Discussion as Fail, Pass or Distinction.

5. Grade aggregation table

Knowledge Test Professional Discussion  Overall Grade
Fail Fail Fail
Fail Pass Fail
Pass Fail Fail
Pass Pass Pass
Fail Distinction Fail
Pass Distinction Distinction

6. Completion and certification

We’ll activate certification once the apprentice has successfully completed all EPAs, and the IEPA has verified this. Working with the apprenticeship certificate issuing authority, we’ll ensure the apprentice receives their certificate.

7. What next?

Early Years Educators can progress to other higher level apprenticeships such as Level 5 Early Years Lead Practitioner. 


We’re an approved End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) specialising in EPA delivery across health, education, early years, digital, social care, finance and business apprenticeship standards. We offer flexible and reliable EPA solutions supported by sector expertise, guidance documents and proactive service and support.

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