NCFE CACHE Level 3 Extended Diploma for Children's Care Learning and Development (Northern Ireland) (603/7477/9)

Last updated
Level 3 study programme

Non-performance pointed 

  • Northern Ireland

This qualification is designed to provide learners with the underpinning knowledge and skills needed when working with children. It covers a diverse range of job roles and occupational areas in children’s settings, including early years. The qualification then builds on this knowledge and provides extended knowledge and skills to further learners’ understanding and provide a stepping stone into higher education.  

The Level 3 Diploma for Children’s Care, Learning and Development (Northern Ireland) sits within this qualification. Successful achievement of the diploma units will confirm competence in these areas and serve as the required qualification for all new practitioners for registration and regulatory requirements in Northern Ireland. 


Education context

This qualification has been developed in partnership with NISCC and key centres, schools and HEIs in Northern Ireland.  

This qualification is part of a nested suite with the Level 3 Diploma for Children’s Care, Learning and Development (Northern Ireland).  

Awarding organisation
  • NCFE
Qualification code

The qualification is unitised. To achieve this qualification learners are required to successfully complete 136 overall credits: 

  • 56 credits from the 8 diploma mandatory units 
  • 14 credits from the diploma optional units, of which there are 13 
  • 66 credits from the 7 extended diploma graded mandatory units 
  • 1 external assessment 

This is a skills-based qualification. Learners must have access to between 600–700 hours in a work setting that will facilitate development of their skills and knowledge at level 3. 

Subject areas
  • Childcare and development

Diploma mandatory units – please see the NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for Children’s Care, Learning and Development (Northern Ireland) (603/6039/2) qualification specification for unit details. 

Unit 01: Context and principles for the early years sector – Theme 1 (L/618/1648)  Unit 02: Communication and partnership working – Theme 2 (R/618/1649)  Unit 03: Safeguarding children – Theme 3 (J/618/1650)  Unit 04: Keeping children safe, healthy and well – Theme 4 (L/618/1651)   Unit 05: Support children’s personal care and nutrition – Theme 5 (R/618/1652)  Unit 06: Supporting children’s development – Theme 6 (Y/618/1653)  Unit 07: Supporting children’s play opportunities and experiences of play – Theme 7 (D/618/1654)  Unit 08: Contribute to the support of children with disabilities and/or special needs – Theme 8 (H/618/1655)  Unit 09: Understand the needs of children and young people who are vulnerable and experiencing poverty and disadvantage (F/600/9777)  Unit 10: Support disabled children and young people and those with specific requirements (T/601/0134)  Unit 11: Support children or young people in their own home (K/601/0132)  Unit 12: Enable parents to develop ways of handling relationships and behaviour that contribute to everyday life with children (H/502/4682)  Unit 13: Engage fathers in their children’s early learning (Y/502/4663)  Unit 14: Promote children in early years settings acquiring a new language through immersion (K/601/3225)  Unit 15: Support children with physical disabilities (K/618/1656)  Unit 16: Support children with learning disabilities (M/618/1657)  Unit 17: Support children with autistic spectrum conditions (T/618/1658)  Unit 18: Support the learning and development of children with health needs (A/618/1659)  Unit 19: Support children with sensory loss (M/618/1660)  Unit 20: Support families who have a child with a disability (D/601/5750)  Unit 21: Promote signing to advance speech, language and communication (T/618/1661) 

Extended diploma mandatory units:  Unit 22: Developing study skills for professional practice (L/618/7059)  Unit 23: Enabling play environments (F/618/7060)  Unit 24: Partnership working in early years (J/618/7061)  Unit 25: Understanding perspectives on childhood in society (L/618/7062)  Unit 26: Understand the role of the practitioner when supporting children with special educational needs and disability (R/618/7063)  Unit 27: Understanding neuroscience in early years (Y/618/7064)  Unit 28: Planning for improved outcomes when working with babies and children in an early years setting (D/618/7065) 

  • Level 3



The diploma mandatory and optional units are achieved/not yet achieved (NYA). 

The extended mandatory units are graded A*–D. 

The external assessment is graded A*–D. 

The final grade will be A*, A, B, C or D. 


Internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence and externally set and externally assessed extended assessment. 

To achieve this qualification learners are required to successfully complete 136 overall credits: 

  • 56 credits from the 8 diploma mandatory units 
  • credits from the diploma optional units, of which there are 13 
  • 66 credits from the 7 extended diploma graded mandatory units 
  • 1 external assessment; an independent self-study – this is completed independently by learners and submitted to NCFE for marking at set times during the year.  

The independent self-study involves learners choosing a theme and is not synoptic.  

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

There are 7 mandatory units within the extended diploma (which are internally assessed) and one exam. They are weighted in relation to their size and relative importance within the qualification.  

Unit 1 


Unit 2 


Unit 3 


Unit 4 


Unit 5 


Unit 6 


Unit 7 




Resit arrangements

A result that does not achieve a pass grade will be graded as a not yet achieved grade. Learners may have the opportunity to resit. Learners who are not successful can resubmit work within the registration period; however, a charge may apply. 

Submissions will be limited to one submission and one subsequent submission for their chosen extended assessment theme. Learners who refer or achieve a Pass grade can try for a higher grade by resubmitting or attempting to upgrade the submission of their extended assessment once only. Learners who do not achieve a pass grade must choose a new extended assessment theme. This new theme will be allowed one submission and one subsequent submission. 

Guided/notional learning hours
1022 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

TQT: 1360

UCAS grade bands

Not yet available.

Key issues for UK HE admissions

This qualification aims to provide learners with a number of progression options, including higher-level studies at university or futher education (FE) colleges. 

The skills required to progress to higher academic studies are different from those required at levels 1 and 2. Level 3 qualifications enable the development of these skills. Although there is no single definition of higher-level learning skills, they include:  

  • checking and testing information  
  • supporting points with evidence  
  • self-directed study  
  • self-motivation  
  • thinking for yourself  
  • analysing and synthesising information/materials  
  • critical thinking and problem solving  
  • working collaboratively  
  • reflecting upon learning and identifying improvements  

Level 3 criteria can require learners to analyse, draw conclusions, interpret or justify, which are all examples of higher-level skills. This means that evidence provided for the portfolio will also demonstrate the development and use of higher-level learning skills.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

There are 4 submission windows per year and results are released around two months after submission.

Qualification date
Starting from 31 Jul 2022
Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current and was launched in September 2021. It will be first awarded in July 2022. 

Reporting and certification information

As an OFQUAL regulated AO all of our data is available on the following link: 

Progression information

Learners who achieve this qualification could progress to higher education and/or a wide range of job roles within children’s care, learning and development in Northern Ireland.