This course is designed for those who wish to work with children under the age of 6 and who have a particular interest in children with special needs. It is a nationally and internationally recognised qualification. Students get the opportunity to have hands-on experience and acquire the theory to support it. The course covers a child’s overall development from conception to 6 years. This Level 5 course is the minimum requirement for those wishing to work in the area and is the first year of a 2 year professional programme leading to the Advanced Certificate at Level 6. The Level 5 is an embedded award and students who leave after year one are qualified to work in the sector.Students will undertake 150 hours of Professional Practice in a minimum of 2 early Years of Early Years settings per annum. The settings will include birth -2 yrs 8 months, and 2 yrs 8 months to 6 years. All Professional Practice placements must be carried out with an ELC provider currently registered with Tusla. Learners must be garda vetted before going on the placement.

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1 year

After year 1 students will have a Professional Qualification in Early Learning and Care Level 5. After year 2, students will have a professional qualification in Early Learning and Care, Level 6.

Manual handling training and certification (requirement for work experience)

QQI Component Maths 5N1833 (available as option in evening for learners requiring Maths for progression)

  • Duration: 1 year.
  • Fees: €300 including QQI examination fees. Medical card holders exempt €50. See Payment for details.
  • Certification: QQI Certificate in Early Learning and Care 5M21471. There is an embedded award, a Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning and Care, which can be achieved if learners exit the programme after 1 year.
  • Work Experience: Students will undertake 150 hours of Professional Practice in a minimum of 2 early Years of Early Years settings per annum. The settings will include birth -2 yrs 8 months, and 2 yrs 8 months to 6 years. All Professional Practice placements must be carried out with an ELC provider currently registered with TUSLA. Learners must be garda vetted before going on the placement. Learners must complete the current Children First E-Learning programme before going on placement.
  • Yr 1 (Embedded Level 5 certificate)
  • 5C21523: Professional Practice Placements in Early Learning and Care:- The purpose of this module is to equip the learner with knowledge, skills and competence to work in a professional capacity under supervision, to understand the role of an Early Learning and Care professional and the importance of Personal and Professional Development in the ELC World. The learner will  learn how to engage in Professional Development Planning, Research skills, Academic Writing skills, Digital skills and Interview skills. They will also work under supervision demonstrating the required competence, values and work practices to build reciprocal, responsive and respectful working relationships with all stakeholders in the best interest of babies, toddlers and young children.
  • 5C21524: Children’s Rights, Legislation and Regulation: – The purpose of this module is to introduce learners to Children’s Rights such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Essential Legislation and Constitutional Protections for Children, Regulations, as well as Frameworks such as Aistear and Siolta, enabling them to work effectively under direction with children, their families and all stakeholders within a range of ELC settings. The Learner will learn how to, for example, explore the rights of children and their families as underpinned by national and international developments in order to inform best practice, review of experiences that promote children’s holistic development,  and identify current child protection legislation.
  • 5C21526: Early Childhood Growth and Development:- The purpose of this module is to introduce learners to growth and development in early childhood, linking theory with practice to support holistic development and inclusive learning. Learners will learn how to explain the main stages and patterns of holistic child development from 0-6 years, outline a range of theories of child development and learning, describe factors that may influence or impact a child’s development and learning, explore the contribution of families and other adults to the development and learning of the child, carry out observations informed by principles of child development in consultation with stakeholders to support programme planning in line with current legislation guidelines and frameworks.
  • 5C21527: Curriculum, Play and Creative Studies:- The purpose of this module is to equip the learner with knowledge, skills and competence to engage with curricular approaches, through mediums of play and creative opportunities, encompassing diversity, identity and cultural contexts within the world of Early Years Education. The learner will learn how to facilitate creative opportunities such as art, music and drama as well as plan experiences and activities with regard to the age and development of the child
  • 5C21528: Understanding and Assisting Children with Additional Needs:- The purpose of this module is to provide the learner with an introduction to the knowledge and skills relevant to the theory and practice of inclusive education and care of children with additional needs in the early learning and care (ELC) setting, looking at the rights of children with additional needs and those of their families and relevant legislation and best practice guidelines. The Learner will learn how to create an accessible, inclusive experience for the child with additional needs in the ELC setting in line with best practice guidelines and framework, Explore the importance of working as part of a team, as well as engage in reflective practice.
  • 5C21525: Holistic Care of Children (birth to six yrs): – The purpose of this module is to provide the learner with knowledge, skills and competence required for the holistic care, wellbeing, safety and health of babies, toddlers and young children in the ELC setting, through a balance of theory and hands on practical skills needed for ELC. The Learner will learn how to explain the key care routines,  Implement a range of practice skills to provide for the care, health, wellbeing and safety of babies, toddlers and young children in ELC as well as apply the relevant legislation, regulations, frameworks, policies and procedures which impact the holistic well-being of children in their care.
  • 5N1786: Special Needs Assisting:-  This module explores the role and responsibilities, qualities and skills of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) and examines the relevant legislation in relation to disability. It explores the rights of children in relation to personal autonomy, participation and decision making and enables the learner to maintain appropriate relationships with children, parents, primary carers, teachers and other members of the multi-disciplinary team, whilst working effectively with children who present with disabilities under the direction of the classroom teacher. Learners will learn how to outline the role and responsibilities of the Special Needs Assistant, relate effectively and appropriately to children who present with additional need, as well as assist these children in a range of activities, ensuring equality of opportunity through working in a safe and professional manner

Leaving Certificate, LCA or QQI Level 4. Mature students are exempt from Leaving Certificate requirement.

All applicants are interviewed and Garda vetted. Police clearance is required for non-Irish nationals. Minimum English language and literacy competence at entry to the programme for speakers of English as a second language would be B2 in writing, reading, listening and speaking.

An offer of a place on this course is contingent on the applicant meeting the entry requirements set out here and satisfactory presentation at interview.

  • Manual Handling Training and Certification (requirement for work experience): Manual handling training is required under Regulation 13 of the 1993 (General Application Regulations) and 1993 Manual Handling Regulations. This training programme is aimed at providing all persons at work with proper techniques when lifting, carrying, loading, pushing and supporting. It provides employees with good work practices such as proper lift Manual Handling Techniques. The course includes being aware of the necessity for safe methods of manual handling to reduce the risk of injury and understanding the need to avoid manual handling by using mechanical aids where possible. Furthermore, assessing the task using the TILE criteria (task, individual, load, environment) and implementing the correct method of lifting ensuring minimal risk to self and co-workers will also be included.  Finally, knowing how to safely execute all relevant workplace manual handling tasks will be demonstrated. A certificate will be issued to learners who successfully complete the course.
  • Tusla Children First E-Learning Programme
  • Infection Prevention & Control (online)
  • Barnados Introduction to the Rights of the child in Early Learning and Care (online)
  • Barnados Introduction to Learning Environments (online)
  • Field trips and site visits
  • Child Paths training
  • Barnados Children Learning in Natural Outdoor Environments (online)
  • Morrison’s Island Campus – Early Learning and Care, Advanced Certificate Stage 2
  • UCC – Early Years & Childhood Studies (CK111)
  • MTU (Cork) –  Early Childhood Education & Care L8 (MT972)
  • MTU (Cork) – Montessori Education (MT970)
  • SETU (Waterford) – Early Childhood Care & Education (SE911)

Excellent progression opportunities to UCC and other Higher Education colleges. Special arrangements in place with MTU Cork (CCPS), MTU Kerry and SETU(Waterford & Carlow) for preferential entry for students of Morrisons Island locations.

See Progressions for details.

After Year 1 students will have  a Professional Qualification in Early Learning Care Level 5.  After Year 2 students will have a Professional Qualification in Early Learning Care Level 6.  Students can work in pre-schools and crèches and can work as a Child Minder in the home.

“I would highly recommend the QQI level 5 Early Learning course to anyone who is looking to pursue a career in the youth work sector. The course is designed perfectly to give you all the knowledge required for working with children and the support from the teachers is second to none. I have been volunteering for youth clubs for 5 years and felt that I needed to get more education within this area. After completing this course it has opened doors to many other options in education and work.”

Michelle Murphy, Graduate Student

“I completed the QQI level 5 Award in Early Learning. I am currently working as a special needs assistant in a national school with children with severe and profound disabilities. I work 5 days a week from 9.15 – 2.00. As I had been out of education for a number of years (too long to mention) and been out of full time employment also as I was a full time mother I found the course a great foundation for going out into the work force. The content of the course meant I had become knowledgeable in childcare areas regarding holistic development, health, safety, creative arts and many other areas. The work experience was invaluable as it meant I became familiar with what was and would be required of me while working within the sector. Before staring the course I was given very valuable advice (by Monica) to keep on top of my work load and not too let things build, I took this advice most sincerely and whilst there where weeks I thought I’d never get through it, I ploughed on and with the help of the tutors and fellow class members I proudly completed the course and am very happy in full time employment.”

Annie O'Donovan, Special Needs Assistant

“I am currently undertaking the Honours Bachelor Degree in Social Work, University College Cork. I knew I would have to do a course to upskill and prepare me for University in order to better my chances of acceptance into UCC. QQ1 Level 5 Childcare greatly enabled me to achieve this. Excellent placement opportunities settings are provided to students partaking in Level 5 Childcare. Both the Staff and students in my course ensured that I reached my full potential. My goal is to specialise in the Mental Health area of social work. I would highly recommend Level 5 Childcare to anybody considering furthering their education in order to gain access to professional levels of employment. There are a range of prospects in education and employment on completion of this cours e.g. within the social science field, Occupational Therapy or within the field of disability services for children. It is a great starting point to better enable you to achieve your goals, and with a bit of determination and support you will achieve them.”

Grainne McCarthy, Student