Funding for early years apprenticeships to increase

Early years apprentice at Tops Day Nurseries, sister company to Aspire Training Team

Funding for Level 3 early years apprenticeships will increase from April this year, and apprentices will no longer gain a diploma as part of the programme.

Funding available to training providers to deliver the apprenticeship will increase from £6,000 to £7,000 from April 2024.

Karen Derbyshire, operations director for early years at apprenticeship provider Realise, said: “The increase in funding levels for the Level 3 apprenticeship is most welcome. The funding has been fixed since before the pandemic and the new level more accurately reflects the costs which are associated with delivering outstanding training and providing an elite apprenticeship experience for both the learner and the employer.”

She added: “Here at Realise, we returned to face-to-face training delivery as soon as legally possible after the pandemic, which we think is crucial, and we hope that the funding increase will allow other training providers to do the same and detach themselves from 100 per cent remote delivery. We would now welcome any uplift in the funding attributed to a Level 2 Apprenticeship to bring it in line with this rise.”

Amy Alderson, operations director of Aspire Training Team which offers early years apprenticeships, said she was “delighted” with the funding increase. “After years of enduring rising costs without commensurate funding adjustments, this welcomed increase is a testament to the acknowledgment of the real-term expenses associated with delivering this qualification to a high standard,” she said. “The team at Aspire Training welcomes this positive change, marking a crucial step towards ensuring the sustainability and quality of early years education.”

Diploma removed

Revised standards for the Early Years Educator apprenticeship, which come into effect on 1 April this year, have removed the mandatory requirement to take a Level 3 diploma. Apprentices will still need to achieve Level 2 English and maths before taking the end-point assessment, which is a requirement for all apprenticeships, and must also complete a first aid qualification.

Derbyshire welcomed the move.  “Learners will now have to complete End Point Assessment to be officially qualified at Level 3 and that will ensure the investment made by both the employer and the apprentice is being maximised,” she said.

Diane Wycherley, operations director at Tops Day Nurseries, said the removal of the Level 3 diploma requirement brought both opportunities and challenges. Tops was ranked as the top employer of apprentices in the childcare sector by the Department of Education.

“This change offers increased flexibility and the potential for more customised, streamlined apprenticeship programs focused on practical, on-the-job training,” she said. “Ongoing communication with apprentices and collaboration with training providers will be essential for successful adaptation to these changes in the apprenticeship structure.”

Sophie Hayter, apprenticeship manager at N Family Club, is part of the trailblazer group which revised the Early Years Educator standards. She said removing the diploma requirement would help with the tension between employers and training providers around maths requirements.

Under the new EYFS, which came into force in January 2024,  practitioners with a “full and relevant” Level 3 qualification no longer need a maths GCSE or equivalent to count as Level 3 in ratio. However, apprentices still need to hold maths GCSE or equivalent to pass their Level 3 end-point assessment.

“Employers have been asking training providers to give learners their diploma certificates without learners going through the end-point assessment to complete their apprenticeship,” she said. “However training providers do not receive funding if the learner does not complete their end point assessment. Removing the diploma element means apprentices will not be qualified until they pass their end-point assessment.”

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