New Technical Award: Children's Learning and Development

Published: Monday 6 Jun 2016

We’ve developed a new Technical Award in Children’s Learning and Development to engage and excite young learners who want to study how children develop from 0 to 10 years old. Learners will also learn about a broad range of roles and careers within the childcare sector.

The new qualification will be available for first teaching in September 2017. It replaces our existing GCSE Child Development and offers a broader, more contemporary range of study  options.

Technical Awards are practical, vocational qualifications available to 14-16 year olds to take alongside GCSEs. If approved by the Department for Education, a single award will be equivalent to a GCSE qualification and will count towards performance tables. They could then be included in Progress 8 as part of the non-Ebacc open group of subjects.

Course content

Our new qualification:

  • allows learners to study child development within the age range of 0 to 10 years old
  • means learners will learn about a wide variety of potential careers
  • covers contemporary issues such as child safety online
  • connects learners with children through practical activities.

Learners will have the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice through a combination of real-life case studies and research tasks, practical experience and theoretical study.

All learners will be taught and assessed in the same way, and there is no need to split your class into Level 1 and Level 2.

Assessment structure

There are two internally-assessed units, and a third unit that is externally assessed.

Unit 1: Child study (30%)

Learners will observe a single child within the age range of 0 up to the end of KS2 in one or more childcare settings. Schools can choose to combine this unit with work experience.

Learners will:

  • produce a portfolio of work providing evidence of their observations
  • show they have used primary and secondary research
  • plan practical activities with the child and provide evidence of this
  • complete an evaluation of the child study.

Their portfolio may include written notes, graphs, logbook and photos.

Unit 2: Research study (30%)

Learners will:

  • organise and deliver a practical activity
  • carry out independent planning and research
  • evaluate their success, and suggest improvements.

Learners will choose from a range of tasks covering various areas such as healthy eating, child safety, play facilities, use of the internet, pre-conceptual care and the role of exercise in child development. The tasks are designed to be flexible so learners can choose to focus on any age within the range of 0 up to the end of Key Stage 2.

Unit 3: External assessment (written exam – 40%)

Learners will be assessed on the following topics:

  • development of the child from conception to the end of Key Stage 2
  • factors influencing development, such as pre-conception health, health during pregnancy, birth problems, genetics, poverty, family, home, culture, diet, exercise, health, education, lifestyle and environment
  • the difference between growth and development and the use of centile charts
  • understanding that growth supports speech, affects social and emotional development and affects the way an adult responds to a child
  • understanding and profiling development milestones for specific ages and areas of development
  • PIES (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Social development milestones)
  • learning and play
  • educational provision
  • child health and safety
  • the role of professionals in relation to the development of children from age 0 up to the end of Key Stage 2.

Why choose AQA

Insight from teachers:

I really like how the Child study focuses on a child from 0 to 10 years old. This appears to be an exciting and challenging course. It allows an understanding of children’s development and learning through practical experiences. It is a very relevant course for students especially those with an interest in health, education or child care related careers.

Alison Curran, St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy, Blackburn

The Children's Learning and Development Technical Award has all the best features of the previous course, listening to the needs of customers. It offers great potential for developing a range of study skills and independent learning. The extended age range will ensure the course meets the needs of students who want to progress to further studies and a career.

Sarah Murphy, Turton School Bolton

Where this award leads

This Technical Award is designed to equip learners with the practical child development skills they need to progress to further general or vocational study. They’ll develop a broad understanding of the sector, so they can make informed decisions about their career opportunities.

Learners will also develop valuable transferable skills including research, communication and collaboration.

We’ve worked with post-16 education providers to ensure that Technical Awards count equally alongside GCSEs when applying to do further study in either general or vocational qualifications.

Support and resources

We’ll be submitting our draft qualification to the Department for Education in September 2016, when we’ll share the draft specification with you. We’re also planning a series of free support events throughout the autumn term, alongside a full set of resources.

Contact us

Our subject team is here to help. Sign up for updates on our new Technical Awards, or contact Amanda Luby and the customer support team on 0161 957 3334 or by email at

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