New BTEC Higher Nationals for Early Years Sector: Key changes

Tue Jan 08 14:50:00 UTC 2019

The Pearson Higher Nationals in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) have been developed in consultation with higher education institutions, employers, professional bodies, colleges and students, providing a tailor-made qualification that meets sector-specific requirements. The qualification replaces the QCF Higher Nationals in Advanced Practice in Early Years Education.

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This qualification provides a rigorous and innovative approach to early years advanced practice that is designed to produce confident, competent and highly-knowledgeable advanced practitioners.

The Higher Nationals enable students not only to practise as Early Years Educators on qualification, its integrated academic and professional practice elements provide a thorough spring-board for learners to progress into sector-related degree programmes and senior leadership or management roles in early years settings.

Download full specification and units included in the qualification (PDF, 4.1 MB)

Key changes to the qualification

The qualifications replace the QCF Higher Nationals in Advanced Practice in Early Years Education, which were withdrawn in November 2018 and are no longer open for registrations. The table below outlines the differences between the qualifications.

Higher Nationals in Advanced Practice in Early Years Education (QCF) BTEC Higher Nationals in Early Childhood Education and Care (RQF)
Placement hours: 600 at Level 4 plus 200 at Level 5, plus requirement to practise across three age groups

Placement hours: 375 at Level 4 plus 150 at Level 5.

Clarification of practice requirements including explicit waiver for students already occupationally qualified 

No pathways

Four pathways at L5, all mapped to relevant occupational and higher apprenticeship standards:

  • Education (mapped to the EYTS Standards)
  • Leadership and Management (mapped to the CCLD Management Standards)
  • Social and Community Care Practice (mapped to the Children, Young People and Families Practitioner Standard)
  • General (to be mapped to the Early Years Senior Practitioner Standard: TBC)
Requires 15 units to complete the HND: 9 mandatory units and 6 optional. There are fewer Learning Outcomes and assessment criteria overall, and greater depth of critical thinking required across units.

Requires a maximum of 15 units to complete the HND: 11 or 12 mandatory units and 2-3 optional (pathway dependent).

All units at HNC are mandatory; there are 3 or 4 additional mandatory units at Level 5 in the HND, the rest are optional.

Wider range of optional units to choose from.

Assessment criteria require interpretation of Merit and Distinction Merit and Distinction criteria explicitly stated in all units
Practical and Reflective Evidence Portfolio included, no other additional resources provided to support delivery

Practical and Reflective Evidence Portfolio included; additionally, all units are accompanied by Example Assessment Briefs and Schemes of Work. Textbook or bank of online resources to further support delivery.

Online platform available to support delivery.

Holistic approaches explicitly embedded – in regard to both assessment of the units and theoretical content

A thematic, holistic approach to Learning. Four Professional Practice Themes explicitly identified and embedded across all units to support holistic and synoptic assessment, delivery and links between units:

  1. Professional Identity
  2. Relationships with Others
  3. Best outcomes for the Child
  4. Global, National & Local Policy
Reflective practice explicitly embedded throughout Reflective practice explicitly embedded throughout
Meets the DfE criteria for counting in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework staff:child ratios Meets the DfE criteria for counting in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework staff:child ratios
Units include both theoretical and practice-based evidence requirements Units include both theoretical and practice-based evidence requirements
The HND provides a focused and highly-specialised route into Early Years Education advanced practice and further study The HND provides a focused and highly specialised route into Early Years Education advanced practice and further study
Units at 15 and 20 credits Most units are 15 credits, one mandatory unit is 30 credits, making for a more flexible programme
  Greater capacity for local customisation, additional optional units can be imported from other RQF Higher National qualifications to suit your need.
  All units in the HNC are at Level 4. All units in year 2 of the HND are at Level 5
  Mapping to FHEQ qualification descriptors and subject benchmark statements, promoting progression to Level 6 from the HND.

Early years qualification approved by DfE

The new qualifications are not only more innovative and agile, but they also provide refreshed and current content designed in consultation with sector experts, further and higher education establishments, professional bodies, employer and student representatives, ensuring they are fit-for-purpose and future forward.

The RQF Higher Nationals in Early Childhood Education and Care meets the DfE criteria for counting in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework staff:child ratios (Early Years Educator) and therefore has been approved for inclusion on the DfE list of Approved Early Years Educator qualifications. 

Find out more about this qualification

For more about this qualification please download the full specification (PDF, 4.1 MB) or contact us on highernationals@pearson.com

If you'd like to deliver BTEC Higher Nationals in Early Childhood Education and Care please let us know by completing this form

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