A Playgroup is a facility which provides early years education and care for children, generally between the ages of 3 and 5 for a period of up to four hours per day. Most Playgroups are locally based and locally managed. A good quality Playgroup will provide a safe, well-planned environment, which encourages children to learn through a broad play based curriculum.

All Playgroups must be registered with their local Health and Social Services Trust. Staff are required to have both health and police checks, which are carried out by Social Services and the premises are registered in line with the requirements of the Children (NI) Order 1995. Each setting will have an annual inspection by Trust personnel to check that they are maintaining the registration requirements.

There must be one adult for every eight children with a minimum of two staff members in each Playgroup. The following qualifications have been agreed by DOH as those that meet the requirements for the Person in Charge/Leader and Deputy Pre-school Sessional Care or Crèche role:

  • BA Hons Degree in Early Childhood Studies, or Degree level qualification in Early Years or Playwork;
  • QCF level 5 Diploma in Children’s Care Learning and Development (Management) Wales/NI QCF;
  • QCF Level 5 Diploma in Playwork QCF;
  • or
  • a relevant occupational qualification in early years’ education, social work, nursing, teaching or health visiting;
  • and 2 years’ experience working in a play, education or day care setting. Volunteer experience can be included providing it is with the same age group relevant to the setting.

All leaders must have a current Safeguarding and Child Protection Certificate. If this is not the case, this must be achieved as part of the induction process and within one month of appointment.

If the Leader is the Designated Child Protection Officer, evidence of certificated training must be in place prior to commencing duties.

Leaders or supervisors should have at least a qualification at QCF Level 3 Diploma in Child Care, Learning and Development or Playwork. Where staff in any setting, have previously attained Level 2, 3 or 5 NVQ qualifications in Playwork or Early Years Care and Education, this will be an acceptable alternative to QCF Diplomas.

Many Playgroups are able to offer funded places through the Government's Pre-school Education Expansion Programme. In groups where funded places are not available, a charge will be made based on the number of sessions the child attends.

For further information please see Minimum Standards Implementation Guidance - Version 3 >>

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