Case Study

Early Years Project for NCFE Partner in UAE


In 2008 in the UAE, there was no requirement to be trained to work in a nursery or within the early years setting of a school. As such, an opportunity was identified to help raise the quality of the educational experiences that young children and their families received, resulting in the region’s first CACHE centre – the Early Years Educational Services (EYES) – being opened the same year.

Founded and owned by Sarah Rogers, a UK educated and qualified early years and primary school teacher, the centre’s purpose remains to bring good quality training and UK qualifications to the region; training that is affordable and accessible, without compromising on the quality of the world-class teaching standards of CACHE early years and childcare qualifications (delivered by awarding organisation NCFE).

Since 2008, over 2000 students based in the UAE have taken Level 1, 2 and 3 CACHE qualifications in specialisms such as teaching and learning, preschool practice, and early years educator. A sister centre to EYES opened in Abu Dhabi in 2014 (QUEST EYES Abu Dhabi), providing further opportunities to ensure an excellent educational experience for all learners.

Today, these courses are also delivered remotely in the region by UK centres, helping to further widen accessibility to receiving the highest standard of vocational and technical training for work in the early years sector.

UAE, Middle East
Training Provision, Assessment and Certification

NCFE is an educational charity and leader in vocational and technical learning. It combines over 170 years of experience with deep insight, working with a network of expert collaborators to shape smarter solutions around the greatest learning needs. In doing this, NCFE is working for a fairer education system for all learners to power inclusivity and choice.

With expertise and deep specialism in some of today’s most in-demand sectors, NCFE is regulated by Ofqual. It is committed to delivering the highest standard of qualifications and service to its customers and their learners. NCFE offers a wide range of qualifications, resources and support to centres outside the UK, enabling individuals worldwide to access transformational learning experiences through its provision.

NCFE’s portfolio of sector-leading CACHE qualifications includes specialist provision in early years and childcare, education and training, health and science, and social care, which help millions of learners to raise professional standards across these sectors. Meanwhile, its range of NCFE qualifications includes employability, business and administration, retail, English and maths, and many more that will improve individuals’ lives and global career prospects.

With more than 600 dedicated people working to develop and deliver innovative programmes and education services, international partners can choose from NCFE’s “pick and mix” style catalogues to create bespoke continuing professional development (CPD) programmes, as well as programmes to suit schools, further education (FE) colleges, or independent training providers.

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The firm belief driving this project was the need and the right for every child to have the best start to their education and their lives, if they are to go on to achieve their full potential. +

NCFE therefore had the following aims when undertaking expansion into the UAE:

  • Create an understanding of the need for a trained and professional workforce, recognised by all stakeholders to improve outcomes for all children
  • Raise quality standards of teaching and learning in the early years
  • Give educators the tools they need to increase their professionalism to provide the best teaching and learning environments for all children
  • Be inclusive and culturally aware, working with all stakeholders in the educational community to promote best early years practice.

The overarching vision of NCFE’s International arm is to promote and advance learning, helping people in all parts of the globe fulfil their potential, which the project has gone on to achieve by raising the standards of early years education in this region.

Through the provision of world-class early years training and qualifications to learners attending these centres, NCFE has been able to help drive the early years sector forward and increase the quality of the provision and standards of early years education offered in the region. This is crucial because, when the initial cohort enrolled on the course, many students needed to understand what best practice looked like, as they hadn’t observed this before.

CACHE qualifications offered through the QUEST EYES Abu Dhabi centre include:

  • Level 1 Award in Caring for Children
  • Level 2 Diploma for the Early Years Practitioner
  • Level 3 Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators in Early Years Settings
  • Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce
  • Level 4 Award in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Leadership and Management in the Early Years
  • Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People’s Service

As of January 2021, a number of CACHE qualifications are now being taught in Arabic, through an experienced early years Arabic first language speaker, trained and qualified by QUEST. This has meant that these qualifications are more accessible than ever before to learners, with expansion to more courses being the aim once all teaching resources have been translated.

Courses are also being remotely delivered in the region by UK centres, which wouldn’t have felt achievable 18 months ago, but is now resulting in many benefits. Learners have more time for self-directed study, it has relaxed the time and deadline pressures of exams, and removed the travel burden for students by not having to travel to study every day.

The opening of the first CACHE centre in 2008 was a major factor in driving the early years sector forward in the UAE, supporting the sector to gain recognition for the need for the early years workforce to be qualified. This contributed greatly to an increase in the quality of the provision and standards of early years education offered in the region, thanks to these qualifications.

In September of 2008, the first cohort of 42 students began their Level 3 Diploma in Preschool Practice and Level 2 Certificate in Preschool Practice, receiving part-time face to face training at Knowledge Village in Dubai.

Following expansion into Abu Dhabi and the opening of the QUEST EYES Abu Dhabi centre, over 2000 students have now taken Level 1, 2 and 3 CACHE qualifications in specialisms such as teaching and learning, preschool practice, and early years educator, showing the growth of the project.

Long-term positive outcomes include the rapid growth of learners and the gradual recognition of qualifications by both nursery managers and legislative bodies, where nurseries are now paying for staff to take courses. There has also been positive feedback on the increased overall quality of practice from nursery owners and managers in the UAE.

Several hundred learners each year attend graduation ceremonies to celebrate the success of gaining a CACHE qualification, providing learners with the chance to network and recognise their achievements. Early years learners will typically move onto careers outlined in the NCFE Early Years Progression Map, following successful completion of NCFE CACHE qualifications.

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