Sign In
Changes on the way for awards standards in Early Learning and Care

​QQI launches five-month consultation on new-format draft awards standards for Early Learning and Care (ELC)

​Quality and Qualifications Ireland has published proposed new awards standards for Early Learning and Care.These are now open for public consultation with stakeholders until 30 September 2019.  The new standards (at NFQ Levels 5 and 6) will replace the current Early Childhood Care & Education standards published in 2011. 

One of the major changes is that the new standards will be based on the NFQ Professional Award-type Descriptors.  This will have a significant positive impact for a sector which saw nearly 25,000 major awards (including those at Levels 5 and 6) in the last 7 years.  For example, it will help facilitate the development of efficient progression pathways between different tertiary ELC qualifications in the NFQ.   

A consultation event on Tuesday 7th May 2019 will explain the new standards and their implications for potential programme developers, programme coordinators, quality assurance staff and others involved in ELC. Further events may be arranged as required.


What can be expected in the published documents?

The new ELC professional awards standards will be for major awards.  At NFQ Levels 5 and 6 they will be presented in the form of annotations to the NFQ Professional Award-type Descriptors (PATD). The annotations will explain how to interpret the PATD indicators for programmes leading to ELC awards. The standards will be accompanied by a FAQ about implementation and validation.

Furthermore, QQI will publish the new standards as part of a set of annotated professional award-type descriptors running from NFQ Level 5 to NFQ Level 8.  Annotations at NFQ Levels 7-8 were produced under the leadership of the Department of Education and Skills using the forthcoming Professional Award Criteria and Guidelines for Initial Education (Level 7 and 8) Degree Programmes for the Early Learning and Care sector in Ireland.  In this way there will be a consistent presentation of standards from NFQ Level 5 to 8. This is an exciting new development that will help enhance professional qualifications in ELC and opportunities for articulation of programmes to facilitate progression.


Phased Approach

This work on new standards can be regarded as Phase 2 of a three-phase project that will, all going well, result in updated programmes enrolling from the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.

  • Phase 1 was the review by QQI of the existing CAS awards specifications for ELC.

  • Phase 2 is the development of new-format professional award standards for ELC.

  • Phase 3 will be the development by providers of new ELC programmes leading to awards at NFQ Levels 5 and 6, and their validation by QQI.

The consultation process will include a detailed explanation about how we envisage these standards being implemented.

For more information click here.

The membership of the standards review and development group is:


  • Deirdre Hanamy, Former Principal of Blackrock Further Education Institute (Chairperson)

  • Madeleine Mulrennan (Project Co-ordinator)

  • Antoinette Gibbs, Department of Education and Skills

  • Martina Carter, Department of Education and Skills

  • Bevin Doyle, Department of Children and Youth Affairs

  • Kathryn O’Riordan, Department of Children and Youth Affairs

  • Phil Lynch, Early Childhood Ireland

  • Martina Coombes, Technological University Dublin

  • Ann Fanning, Cork ETB

  • Ann McSorley, Scottish Social Services Council

  • Evelyn Reilly, Service Representative

  • Clodagh Beare, Development Officer Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB

  • Jenny Whelan, Further Education Support Services

  • Mary Sheehy, Further Education Support Services

  • Traycee McGarrity, Learner Representative