Quality and Qualifications Ireland

The Childcare Act 1991 (Early Years Services) 2016 regulations were implemented on a phased basis on June 30th 2016. Under these regulations, there has been an update in regards to the minimal level of qualification required to work directly with children in an Early Years setting

Minimum Qualification Requirement:

Under the Childcare Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 all staff working directly with children must hold a minimum of QQI level 5 award in Early Childhood Care and Education. This does not apply to anyone working in the sector who signed the grandfathering clause before 30th June 2016 which states that he/she intends to retire from employment in an Early Years’ Service before 1st September 2021.

FAQ’s regarding minimum qualification requirement

Q Do relief staff need to hold a minimum qualification?

A Yes

Q: Do CE workers need to hold a minimum qualification?

A: In order to be part of the adult/child ration, CE workers must hold a minimum qualification. A CE worker who is in training to gain a minimum qualification can work directly with the children but may not be included in ratio.

Q: I’ve been approved AIM Level 7 funding for a child in my service. Does that person have to have a Fetac Level 5 qualification?

A Yes, unless you have been granted an exemption by Pobal. Such exemptions will primarily be for children with medically complex needs who require specialised health supports.

For more FAQ see the Management and Staff section of Questions Asked to Tusla Early Years Inspectorate which is regularly updated here

ECCE Room Leader

The ECCE contract requires that all ECCE room leaders must have a minimum QQI Level 6 Major Award in Early Childhood Care and Education.

A higher capitation is available to services where the preschool leader has a major award in Early Childhood Care and Education at level7 on the national Framework of qualifications.

As with the Foundation level training, it is suggested that Practitioners complete the Tusla ELearning Programme every three years.

Early Years DCYA Recognised Qualifications

The Early Years DCYA Recognised Qualifications list shows all qualifications which have been approved by DCYA for work in the Early Years sector in Ireland to date. It also sets out the appropriate level of DCYA approval (meets regulatory requirements; eligible for Room Leader – Standard; eligible for Room Leader – Higher Capitation). To search the searchable database click here

Where a qualification is not published on the list of DCYA Early Years Recognised Qualifications but the holder considers it to be an appropriate Major Award at or above Level 5 on the NFQ or equivalent, they can apply to have their qualification assessed for approval. The application form for qualifications assessment can be downloaded here

If you are not sure where your qualification is placed on the Irish NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications), you should check with QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland). We recommend that you first check the QQI website; most people will find the information they need there. For international qualifications, QQI operate the Irish NARIC which shows compatibility between Irish and international qualification levels: Naric Ireland

National Framework of Qualifications

QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) is a state agency established by the Quality Assurance and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012 with a board appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills.

Their role is to:

  1. Develop Awards and Standard
  2. Validate Programmes of Education Training
  3. Ensure that PEL (Protection for Enrolled Learners) Arrangements are in Place
  4. Review Providers of Education and Training
  5. Authorise Use of International Education Mark
  6. Develop Quality Assurance
  7. Facilitate Qualifications Recognition
  8. Maintain National Framework of Qualifications

QQI is Ireland’s guardian of the NFQ system. They are responsible for the quality assurance of providers of education and training.

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a ten-level system (1–10) giving an academic or vocational value to qualifications obtained in Ireland.

NFQ levels help indicate how an award can be used for training, education and employment opportunities.

Each level is based on nationally agreed standards of what a learner is expected to know and be able to do after receiving an award.

To learn more about the Irish NFQ please view click here

As with the Foundation level training, it is suggested that Practitioners complete the Tusla ELearning Programme every three years.

Early Years Course Providers

Continuing professional development resources for practitioners

A key objective of First 5 is to improve Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for all those who work in early learning and care and school-age childcare settings. Visit the First 5 Professional Development for Practitioners webpage to access various CPD online courses: