QQI Early Learning & Care (Level 5) Major Award – Stage 1

  • Our brand new QQI Early Learning & Care certificate (Level 5) is aimed at learners seeking to commence a professional career in the Early Years sector working directly with children from birth to six years. The programme will facilitate learners with the opportunity of gaining employment as an Early Years Educator while also acting as a stepping stone for progression to other suitable further and higher education and training programmes.
  • What QQI award do I receive? On successful completion of this programme, you will gain a QQI Level 5 Major award in Early Learning & Care (120 Credits).
  • How is it delivered? This one year programme will be delivered Online and you will be expected to attend approx. 3 hours of Live Online Lectures each week (Mon-Fri) with some additional Online Tutorials/Workshops to be held across some Saturdays over the duration of the programme.
  • Is there a placement required? Yes, you will complete 150 hours of professional practice placement in a minimum of two ELC settings. Further details noted below.
  • Do you cover insurance? Yes, we cover our Students work placement Insurance requirements and at no extra cost.
  • How long is this Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning & Care? This programme will be completed over one year which equates to 40 weeks per year. You will undertake three semesters in each Year (12 weeks each) and there will be scheduled breaks in between each semester. New programme intakes will take place each quarter commencing May 2023*.
  • What does it cost? The full Advanced course fee is €1,450 and includes all documentation, lecturing, assessments, learner registration and QQI certification fees for this stage.  No other hidden accreditation or certification fees to pay!
  • There are also Easy Payment options of – €125 per month over 12 months with our unrivaled Easy Payment Plans. Enrol using your Debit / Credit Card or call us on (+353) 1 206 1828 to avail of this offer.
  • Sector Requirement: The landscape for Early Years Educators to be recognised as a professional sector has created the need for change for all Early Years Education and Training programmes. Subsequently, this programme has been developed in response to the Professional Awards Type Descriptors (Annotations for Early Learning & Care Sectors at Levels 5/6) that were published in 2019.

*Pending QQI Validation.

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Course Description


This brand new single stage programme leading to the QQI Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning & Care has been designed to meet the professional award standards of Early Learning & Care at Level 5.

The programme comprises 4 modules to be completed over one year (full time) and aims to prepare learners for work as an Early Years Educator working under direction, and in preparation for progression as a Lead Early Years Educator.

Learners will acquire the knowledge, skills and competence that contribute to a modern early years’ educator who can work under direction, both independently and as part of a team, and is flexible, creative, and inclusive in their approach to promoting and supporting the holistic development of the child, from birth to six years.

The programme has been specifically developed to combine theory and practice-based training.  Therefore, learners will be expected to apply all theoretical knowledge in practice which will be the focus of the practice placement module embedded across the programme.

Learners will complete a minimum of 150 hours of practice placement, working directly with children aged between 0 and 2 yrs. 8 mts. and/or working with children 2 yrs. 8 mts. – 6 years; with an appropriate balance between settings.

The programme offers employment opportunities as an Early Years Educator for those who achieve the full Level (5) major award.  Learners will also have the opportunity to progress to the Level (6) Advanced Certificate in Early Learning & Care to advance their career as a Lead Early Years Educator.

The online teaching and learning approach will be suited to those with responsibilities that do not enable them to undertake classroom-based training on a full-time basis and is intended to meet the needs of a diverse range of learner profiles and make accommodations for those who may already be working in the sector or in other vocations who wish to change career paths.


Course Details


Programme Objectives:

  • To examine a range of Early Learning & Care theories and approaches that can enhance the overall holistic development of the child, within an emergent and inquiry-based curriculum, in line with current frameworks.

  • To create awareness of the policies, procedures and practices which supports the overall health, wellbeing, development, and welfare (holistic development) of the child/children in accordance with national legislation and regulatory frameworks.

  • To equip learners with the knowledges, skills and competencies to identify, support and respond to the planning and assessing of individual learning and care needs of the child, within a democratic and participatory pedagogy.

  • To develop ECEC practioners who the individual rights and capabilities of the child taking account of diversity, equality, and inclusion while practising clear communication with all stakeholders

  • To prepare the learner for engagement in professional practice, and to support learners in identifying and achieving their own personal and professional development plans.

  • To develop academic and digitally literate learners capable of confidently using a range of technologies to support their learning and practice and source employment opportunities.


Module & Programme Structures:

Over the duration of this Level (5) Certificate in Early Learning & Care programme you will complete a range of modules which will link both theory and practice and will be assessed in a range of contexts. The full level (5) award consists of 4 modules totalling 120 credits. 


Overview of Modules for this Level 5 award: Learners will complete 4 compulsory modules (30 Credits each)


Four Compulsory Modules (120 Credits):


Module (1): The Early Years Professional (1) – 30 Credits

The aim of this module is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence, of national frameworks, legislation, policy, procedures, and practices within the profession of early childhood education and care. Learners will use a range of effective interpersonal, intrapersonal and reflective communicative skills, understanding how they impact upon their role as an early year’s professional, in supporting the health, development and wellbeing of children (0-6 years).


Module (2): The Early Years Educator – 30 Credits

The aim of this module is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill, and competence relevant to the theory and practice of child psychology, child development and learning, so that learners can provide for the holistic health, safety, and well-being of children. Learners will understand their role within early years pedagogy and curricular provision, in line with national curriculum and quality frameworks, providing planning and assessment opportunities, experiences, and activities facilitating quality interactions across the Early Learning & Care setting.


Module (3): Inclusive Practice in Early Years Education (1) – 30 Credits

The aim of this module is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skill, and competence relevant to the principles and practices of ethical, rights based, inclusive and participatory practice. Each learner will understand and demonstrate the role of the early years’ practitioner, in supporting all children with and without additional needs. Learners will gain confidence in promoting collaborative practice that is democratic, inclusive and antibias, responsive to the holistic, care play and learning of all children, in recognition of the importance of supporting the identity and belonging, the voice and agency of each child.


Module (4): Professional Practice Placement (1) – 30 Credits

The aim of this module is to equip the learner with the knowledge and skills required of a competent early year’s educator who will observe and engage in quality practice in early years care and education. Learners will apply understanding of early childhood care and education theory through evidence-based practice and in accordance with the Early Learning & Care Professional Awards standards at Level (5).


Professional Practice Placement:


Practice placement learning:


The arrangements for Professional Practice Placement have been designed to meet the Professional Award Type Descriptors at NFQ Levels 5 -8: Annotated for QQI Early Learning and Care (ELC) Awards with specific attention to Section 3.0.

Learners will complete 150 hours of professional practice placement in a minimum of two ELC settings: (1) working directly with children aged 0-2 years 8 months, and (2) working with children aged between 2 years 8 months and six years, with an appropriate balance between settings.

The placements must be with Tusla-registered ELC settings.

This Level 5 certificate will facilitate learners with the opportunity to observe quality practice, apply theoretical knowledge to their professional placement experiences and engage in critical self-reflection while under the supervision of a placement supervisor.

Learners are required to carry out mandatory activities while on placement which demonstrates the application of knowledge, know-how and competency that are relevant to meeting the professional standards of Early Learning at Level (5).


Block (1): Learners will complete a minimum of 50 hours across 8 Weeks (5-12).

Block (2): Learners will complete a minimum of 50 hours across 8 Weeks (19-26).

Block (3): Learners will complete a minimum of 50 hours across 8 Weeks (32-39).



Assessment Strategies:


Assessment Strategies:

The overall summative assessment strategy centres around using a combination of continuous assessment through coursework and final assessments. For the suitability of online learning final examinations have not been considered as part of the overall assessment strategy.

The continuous assessment portion will consist of a series of tasks that aim to evaluate learning progress continually over the teaching period of a module. The methods used to achieve these aims include but are not limited to the following examples; online quizzes, forum contributions, short papers and presentations.

Within each module, there is the opportunity to avail of group assessments when employing some or all of these methods. A collection of these tasks will make up the students’ portfolio assessment which has been embedded as a strategy across most of the modules to be completed over the three year programme. These tasks may be lecturer or systems graded depending on their nature. While the actual methods used to evaluate learning differ from module to module, all modules will contain an element of continuous assessment in the example of the portfolio task to be completed.

Final assessments contribute the majority of weighting and are generally longer assignments that aim to assess more learning outcomes. These assessments are lecturer graded and completed individually by each student. Academic integrity is preserved using Turnitin which is embedded in the online learning environment students will use to submit their assignments.

Throughout the course, lecturers have opportunities to informally assess students and provide formative feedback through live online lectures and tutorials as well as through ongoing communications with students. Students may also avail of the opportunity of submitting a draft assessment that is also intended as another outlet for formative assessment and feedback.


Semester Timetable:


Semester Timetable:

Please Note: this a Sample timetable only and may be subject to change.


Year (1): Commencing May 2023


Semester (1): Weeks 1-13

(There will be a break in Week 14)

Semester (2): Weeks 15-26

(There will be a break in Week 27)

Semester (3): Week 28-39 

(The Final Week 40 will be dedicated to Final Assessment Preparation and Submission).



Transfer and Progression to Further Studies:

  • This Level 5 Childcare Major award programme is listed on the Higher Education Links Scheme, and, on successful completion, may be used to obtain access to a course at a higher level (e.g Level 7 or 8 on the National Framework). »Click here for further details.
  • Learners who successfully complete this Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning & Care may progress to the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Early Learning and Care (Insert Link to course page). 


Protection for Learners on this Level 5 Major Award:

As a course provider our policy on the protection for learners is subject to Section 43 of the Qualifications Act. This means that if, for whatever reason, we cease to provide the programme that is over 3 months in duration which you enrolled for, we have specific and legally binding arrangements in place to finish out that programme for you at no extra cost. All course fees for programmes over 3 months in duration are fully protected and secured by a Bond.

If we cease trading those learners who have not finished their programme will be fully protected by this Bond which will be automatically triggered and the fund that covers all Fees paid by learners will be transferred to QQI by our Bond Management firm to enable QQI provide further study options for these learners or the refund of fees most recently paid so that they can complete their programme and all of this will be at no extra cost to the learners affected.




  • Following successful completion, you will receive a QQI Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning & Care.
  • QQI (Quality & Qualifications Ireland) is the national awarding body for further education and training in Ireland. The Open College is registered with QQI to offer programmes leading to QQI awards in the National Framework of Qualifications in Ireland. Click here for details of the National Framework of Qualifications.
  • Click here for more detailed Accreditation information.
  • All Registration & Certification Fees are included in the course price.

QQI Distance Learning Courses

Delivery Format


How does our online learning work?

This QQI Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning & Care programme will be delivered fully online using a combination of suitable online teaching and learning activities consisting of a range of synchronous and asynchronous directed and self-directed study. These methods will be guided and supported through online lectures, tutorials, discussions, collaborative and independent learning.

Professional Practice Placement is a requirement at all stages of this programme, with a total of 150 hours (minimum) to be completed.

Over the duration of this one year programme all learners will engage in approx. 20-30 hours of study each week which considers a mix of directed, independent and work-based learning.

Suitable teaching methods will compromise a range of teaching and learning activities which includes Live Online Lectures that are intended for the direct teaching of core module topics, to support the learning process and to assist in the understanding of the module content while also encouraging peer to peer engagement and interactions.

Additionally, learners will engage in a series of online activities which will include pre-recorded video content, written content, discussion forums, presentations, uploaded readings, quizzes and exercises, all of which will all be hosted in the colleges eLearning system.


Entry Requirements


Entry Requirements / Prerequisites:

The pre-requisites for entry will consider each of the following:

  • Leaving certificate, Level 4 certificate or equivalent in a relevant subject area and/or relevant practical experience. Mature students (over 23 years) may be exempt.
  • Learners must be a based in Ireland and hold an Irish or UK PPS number.
  • Learners will be required to undertake a practical supervised work placement (150 hours minimum) across a range of ELC settings.
  • Be competent in both written and spoken English.
  • English Language Requirement: Students entering programmes leading to awards at Level 5 are expected to be able to: be proficient at reading, drafting, preparing, and understanding information across a broad range of topics, including quantitative information. Any applicant whose first language is not English may also be required to demonstrate their level of English proficiency by completion of an appropriate recognised test such as IELTS achieving a score of 5.5 or higher.
  • Garda Vetting is required for all Early Years placements and learners can apply for this through The Open College. Please check our FAQ’s page for more information on Garda Vetting and International Vetting if you have lived outside Ireland for 6 months or more.
  • Certain assessments require completion of work, which must be observed and evaluated by a suitably qualified Supervisor or Line manager.
  • Digital Literacy: as the programme will be delivered online, learners undertaking this programme must have basic IT skills and access to the necessary equipment which will enable them to successfully participate in the online activities i.e., computer, broadband, email, recording equipment necessary for some skills demonstration tasks, and where applicable any other specialised software/equipment.