Galway Community College
Further Education

Early Learning and Care

Early Learning and Care


QQI Early Learning & Care Professional Award 5M21473

Co-ordinator: Sinead Gunning


Course Outline

GCC are proud to be introducing the new Early Learning & Care award which is the milestone for the new professional standard award in the Early Years sector.

This is year 1 of a 2 year programme leading to the Advanced Certificate at Level 6. Learners can progress to the Early Learning and Care Level 6 award (Year 2) if they have achieved the Early Learning and Care Level 5 award (Year 1) or if they have gone through an RPL process.

Learners may exit the programme after 1 year and be awarded a Level 5 Certificate in Early Learning and Care 5M21473

For the first time, the Early Learning and Care sector workforce will have access to a suite of professional awards from entry level qualifications at Level 5 to honours degree level, that recognise the value of professionals at all these levels working in ELC settings across the country.

This program will replace current Early Childhood Care & Education 5M2009 which is being deactivated by QQI.


  • Professional Practice Placement in ELC
  • Children’s Rights, Legislation and Regulation
  • Holistic Care of Children (Birth to Six Years)
  • Early Childhood Growth and Development
  • Curriculum, Play and Creative Studies
  • Understanding and Assisting Children with Additional Needs

Professional Practice Placement (Work Experience)

As part of the programme learners must complete 150 hours of professional practice placement at both stage 1 and stage 2 (total 300 hours) in a minimum of two settings. One setting must involve working directly with children aged between 0 and 2 years 8 months and the other setting working with children aged between 2 years 8 months and 6 years

Work experience takes place one day per week throughout the academic year and two one-week block in Feb / March.

Students have a practical opportunity here to apply theory, knowledge and interpersonal skills in a variety of childcare and educational settings.

Entry Requirements

Stage 1

Prospective learners wishing to be accepted onto Stage 1 of the programme must meet the following minimum entry criteria:

  • Leaving Certificate including Leaving Certificate Applied or equivalent qualifications at NFQ level 4
  • English language - Minimum English language and literacy competence at entry to the programme for speakers of English as a second language is Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, B2 in writing, reading, listening and speaking.

Prospective learners will be expected to demonstrate:

  • a desire to work in the early learning care industry
  • an ability to act with responsibility and autonomy
  • an ability to take responsibility for their own learning while under supervision

Learners may accessing the programme will not be expected to demonstrate prior knowledge or experience of the ELC sector.


€175 GCC Student Services Fee applies to all learners.

€50 QQI Certification Fee applies to all learners except

  • Those in receipt of Back to Education Allowance.
  • Medical Card Holders (valid at time of Registration).

Non EU Students are subject to an International Fee.

We advise non-EU citizens living outside Ireland to contact the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service on to ensure the course you are considering applying for is eligible for a student visa. Non-EU citizens living in Ireland are welcome to apply and require a PPS number (Personal Public Service Number). Non-EU citizens are required to pay a tuition fee set by the Irish government which is currently €3653. Some exemptions apply, for further information, please contact

Information on Migrant Eligibility to Access FE Programmes is available here.

Special Features

Course directed by professional and qualified teachers who are credited with a wealth of practical experience. Preparation for employment in a variety of settings.


For information please visit our Progression and Career Guidance pages under Student Supports

Opportunities open to students who did not achieve the desired Leaving Certificate to allow entry to your desired course from the CAO system, you can have the opportunity to achieve up to 390 points in a PLC course and gain access to 3rd Level or for mature students who did not complete a Leaving Certificate to gain access to 3rd Level.

Please Note

Galway Community College reserves the right to make changes to any course, to limit the number of places available or to withdraw a course. No part of this information shall be deemed to form a contract between the college and a student or a third party.

Wellpark Rd, Galway
 091 755464
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