Childcare: Stage 1 Advanced Certificate in Early Learning and Care with Special Needs (Level 5)


QQI Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning and Care – 5M21473.

The aim of Stage 1 of the Advanced Certificate in Early Learning and Care programme is to enable the learner to acquire the knowledge, skills and competence to work independently and as part of a team, subject to direction and practice supervision, as a member of the early learning and care community of practice, providing holistic care and learning experiences for children from 0-6 years across a range of early learning and care settings, as well as an opportunity to work as a special needs assistant. 

This award also provides the learner with the opportunity to transfer and progress into further and higher education and training, and to Stage Two of the Advanced Certificate in Early Learning and Care.

This programme leads to a new QQI award, the Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning and Care


Award QQI Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning and Care – 5M21473.
Format Full-time. September 2024 to May 2025.
Location Onsite at Mallow Campus.
Timetable Hours between Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 15:30.
Requirements No CAO required (Leaving Cert./LCA/equivalent for under 23s). Application review discussion.
Starting Classes start the week of Monday the 16th of September 2024.
Contact or call 022-43309
Applications Applications open. Places available. No deposit required to start your application.

Career Prospects

  • Childminder. +
  • Crèche assistant. +
  • Montessori assistant. +
  • Playschool assistant. +
  • Special needs assistant. +

Course Contents

Professional Practice Placement in Early Learning and Care 5C21523
Children’s Rights, Legislation and Regulation 5C21524
Holistic Care of Children, 0-6 Years 5C21525
Early Childhood Growth and Development 5C21526
Curriculum, Play and Creative Studies 5C21527
Understanding and Assisting Children with Additional Needs 5C21528
Special Needs Assisting 5N1786

Courses are continually developed – content and specific award components are subject to change. See disclaimer.


One year. Full-time. Class timetables to follow in September, and subject to change.


50 full-time day students will travel, fully-funded, with Erasmus+ to another European country for 2 weeks. Find out more and apply.

Entry Requirements

CAO points not required. Leaving Certificate, LCA, QQI Level 4 qualification or equivalent. For mature applicants appropriate experience will be considered in lieu of formal qualifications.

All applicants will be required to attend an application review 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 minimum entry requirements set out here, and satisfactory presentation at an application review.


  • QQI Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education, Level 5 – 5M21473.
  • Manual Handling Certificate.
  • Children First Certifcate.

Garda Vetting

This course requires participants to be Garda vetted. Continued participation on the course and work placement is dependent on the successful completion of this process.

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.  


Advance to Stage 2 level 6 in Early Learning and Care at Mallow Campus. Use your full QQI award to progress to degrees in Early Childhood Education, Montessori Education, Social Care, Community Development, and Arts. For more links and detailed information on how to use your Mallow Campus qualification go to A full QQI award achieves a maximum of 390 points for CAO.

A full QQI award achieves a maximum of 390 points for CAO.