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

Qualification code

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. 



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.  

Further information

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.