Options from School


Early Years Practitioners shape young lives.

Giving our children the best start in life.

Embarking into the world of work or further study can be daunting as you near the end of  school, but there’s a world of opportunity to be explored and it’s never too early to start thinking about your future.

Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) could be the career for you if you’re a great communicator, a team player, are organised, plus have the energy and enthusiasm to inspire young children at a key stage in their development.

If you’re helpful, reliable, approachable, flexible and keen to learn, you’re already demonstrating some of the key skills, qualities and attitudes found in successful ELC professionals.

The early years in a child’s life are crucial in all aspects of their subsequent development and can influence future attainment. In recent years there has been significant investment in training throughout the ELC workforce to ensure the best possible quality of childcare provision to give children the best possible start in life. It’s a very exciting time to be considering a career in this rewarding profession.

There’s a variety of study options and entry routes, whether you know this is the job for you or if you are still undecided and would like to find out more.

To work in a nursery you need to be registered with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and an entry level role as a Support Worker or ELC Practitioner requires you to be qualified to SCQF levels 6 and 7 respectively. From there, there are lots of routes for progression and specialisation meaning that depending on your interests and ambitions, this is a career that could take you in so many directions.

Find out more about ELC Careers


Pathways into ELC Careers

Skills for work

Skills for Work Early Learning and Childcare (National 4 and 5) This qualification can be done in 4th, 5th and 6th years. Skills for work may be done within the school (please check for availability with the school) timetable or by attending college.

Foundation Apprenticeships

This new type of apprenticeship can be taken whilst still at school, usually as one of your subjects in S5 and is typically worked towards over 1 or 2 years. It is highly vocational, involving classroom-based learning at College or with training provider and work-based learning at a nursery. This method of study gives you the opportunity to apply what you learn to a real working environment and helps you develop the skills you need to excel in the world of work, adding up to an industry-recognised qualification equivalent to a Higher.


Skills for work - Schools

Some schools offer the option to select Skills for Work- Early Learning and Childcare at National 5 as one of your subject choices. This is great if you want to gain an insight to the sector whilst continuing to study a variety of other subjects. The course is very practical, with a focus on developing core skills essential for learning, work and life and by the end, you’ll be able to make an informed decision as to whether this is a career you want to pursue. As a guide, entry requirements at National 5 would be a minimum of 4 x Nat 4’s which must include English and Maths and be working towards or capable of achieving a minimum of 2/3 National 5’s, one of which must include English.

Ask at school whether Skills for Work is an option for you.

Skills for work - College

If you are reasonably certain you want to work in ELC, would prefer to leave school but don’t feel ready to enter the workplace yet, studying full time at College could be for you. There is still an element of flexibility in this route as learning can contribute towards wider Health and Social Care pathways should you decide that specifically childcare is not for you.

Local training providers include:

Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire: https://nescol.ac.uk/courses/care/discover-childcare
Moray: https://www.moray.uhi.ac.uk/


Childminders are professional childcare workers, who provide a childcare service for other people’s children in a domestic setting, usually in your own home. This is a flexible option which allows you to be self-employed and to design your business around your needs and circumstances. Childminders provide a valuable early learning and childcare service in the community and contribute to the vital learning and development of children in their early years.

To become a childminder, you must be registered by the Care Inspectorate and an excellent resource to help you research this profession and to make you aware of training and support available can be found on the Scottish Childminding Association website.


Work-based options: SVQs and Modern Apprenticeships
You may be confident that this is the career for you and you’re ready to enter the workplace, in which case a work-based SVQ route or a Modern Apprenticeship would be perfect option. This learning takes place on the job whilst employed in a childcare setting meaning you can work, earn money and gain a recognised qualification at the same time. This offers the chance to learn about the industry first hand, in a supported manner and to develop the knowledge and experience employers are looking for.

More information on qualifications and providers at: https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/69215.html

More information on Modern Apprenticeships at: https://www.apprenticeships.scot/

Links to more info