This is a question we hear a lot at UK Distance Learning & Publishing, and the answer is always a little bit complicated. The short answer is ‘no’. In the UK, there is no single qualification that you need to get in order to work with children in a supervised capacity (such as a teaching and learning assistant). However, this doesn’t reflect the reality of the hiring process. Just because you aren’t always legally required to have a certain qualification to work with kids, it doesn’t mean that you can just stroll into a nursery and expect to be handed a job.
Our first response to people asking about childcare qualifications is that they should ring around their local nurseries, or other childcare providers (depending on the kind of work it is that they want to do) and ask them what kind of things they look for in job applicants. In most cases, though not all, the response that they get is that they want a clean CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau), and a full national childcare qualification, usually at level 3.
Now, there isn’t a great deal we can do about the first of these other than advising students not to commit any crimes, but we can help with the latter. The majority of queries we get come from people who want to work with young children in the so called ‘early years’ of 0-5 years old. For these we normally recommend that they look at the Early Years Level 3 and Early Years Level 4 courses which are specifically geared towards people who want to work with this age group as a supervised teaching and learning assistant.
Of course, there are also those who have an ambition to work with older children, and we can always help with that as well. Our best qualification for this is the TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools. Again, this is aimed squarely at those people who want to work as a teaching or learning assistant with supervision. The big difference, however, is that this course does require a work placement (of around 50 hours), so that someone can assess your practical skills while working with pupils.
Of course, we do get people who simply aren’t ready for a level 3 course (roughly equivalent to an A-Level in terms of difficulty), but who still want to do something to work towards their ambition. For these kinds of students we have a whole range of level 1 and 2 course, covering a variety of age groups. View the range of courses here Child Care and Teaching Assistant courses.
We also have a range of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) courses which are are theoretical knowledge courses designed for people who want to add to their arsenal of knowledge and skills in particular areas, such as Child Psychology and Child Development.
There are also more general CPD courses, like Complete Childcare, that are more general, but will help to add layers to a student’s CV, and help them to build up a stronger understanding of the childcare and teaching sector.
So, to return to our original question: ‘do I need a particular qualification to work with children?’ The short answer is still ‘no’, but a more accurate answer would be ‘no…but’. UK Distance Learning & Publishing is dedicated to helping people find the right courses and qualifications for anyone who wants to study from home, even when the answer is a complicated one. If you have any questions, please do get in touch with us.