Confusion over NNEB (updated)

Voice has received queries regarding the apparent confusion about the value of the NNEB qualification.

By Senior Professional Officer Tricia Pritchard

Update: 15 April 2015

CACHE have supplied a "list of full and relevant legacy qualifications".  The link in the document is to: See below for further background information.

Update: 13 January 2015

"Gold standard for childcare": article by General Secretary Deborah Lawson in February 2015 EYE:

"A qualification, certificate or diploma from the National Nursery Examination Board (NNEB) has, since 1945, been recognised and held up as the gold standard for those working in childcare. Those who worked hard and were assessed on academic theory and knowledge of childcare alongside how they applied that knowledge during practice placements in school and nursery are rightly proud of their achievement." 

"As someone who did exactly that in the 1970s, I am the holder of an NNEB certificate and badge and still take pride in that achievement, which was the foundation of my future career in education, which began with early years education and childcare.

"The legacy of the NNEB.... is that it still remains the standard against which the childcare profession often compare or view the qualifications that have emerged in the last 20 years... the Nutbrown Review... report notes the lack of trust amongst employers about which qualifications properly equip potential staff to work effectively with young children.

"That lack of trust was more about the confusion caused by the plethora of qualifications…. ... the quality and standard set by the NNEB were matched, if not surpassed, by the many other qualifications... It was not, and is not, a reflection on the calibre of those dedicated and committed people who have chosen to work with young children in childcare and educations since the introduction of different qualifications.  It... is... a system issue…

"Going forward, we hope that the Department for Education’s plans for the establishment of a College of Teaching will include early years teachers, and we will be making this point in our submission to the consultation and in conversations with the department." Please see below.

Update: 17 December 2014

Voice is writing to Directors of Children’s Services to confirm that the NNEB remains full and relevant for those who work in early education and childcare.

Update: 3 December 2014 

"The NNEB Certificate and Diploma are considered full and relevant at Level 3."  (When looking for confirmation of NNEB qualifications, search for ‘National Nursery Examination Board’, not 'CACHE'.)   

Update: 24 November 2014

The following is an abstract from a letter received by CACHE from the DfE regarding the NNEB Diploma being incorrectly listed as not full and relevant:

“Thank you for your email of 24 October about the National Nursery Examination Board (NNEB) Diploma being incorrectly listed on our early years qualification finder as not full and relevant.

“We were made aware of the error at the end of October and an amendment was made to the qualifications list to show that the qualification is full and relevant. You should now be able to review the qualification at:"

14 November 2014:

We’ve received a number of queries regarding the apparent confusion (amongst employers mostly) about the value of the NNEB qualification. We’ve heard of employers suddenly announcing that the NNEB was no longer a recognised qualification and therefore holders of this qualification could no longer be considered qualified in the job that many had been doing for years. Voice has raised this with CACHE, the awarding body (formerly NNEB). The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) is the body responsible for defining the ‘full and relevant’ qualifications. The NNEB is not on the list of qualifications considered as meeting the ‘essential criteria’, the minimum requirements for Level 3 work in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), and this is where we believe the confusion lies. CACHE will look into this and report back to us. We hope that any confusion can be dispelled. 

If you have experienced difficulties of this kind, please let us know below or email us so we can share this with CACHE.


Today received notice that nneb not a recognised qualification anymore to Rochdale authority. Those of us who have nneb and have permanent contract stay in job but cannot apply for a job because we are no longer qualified. A joke. I qualified in 1988 yet some staff ay work did 8 week courses are more qualified.

I did my NNEB in the 70s and worked hard for this qualification which was considered the best , I still think it is and I also was thought of as having an out of date qualification even though I have kept up to date with the changes I think that half baked modules and courses they are doing now are a mockery of an excellent profession only the best got through and you can always recognise a good NNEB a mile off . I think this should be brought back 2 years full time it should be difficult to get into work with children but these new qualifications make it easy for anyone to get a level 3

I have been advised by Flying Start that somme NNEB are no longer current level 3. This has co.e from Care Council Wales.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. If the NNEB is accepted in England it should be in Wales, but we will check with the relevant bodies in Wales to confirm.

The Care Council for Wales is responsible for ensuring that the workforce in Wales has the right skills and qualifications to work to high professional standards, and is capable if delivering high quality services.

The List of required qualifications to work within the early years and childcare sector in Wales is at the core of that work. The List provides guidance for early years and childcare employers, practitioners, learning providers, and other organisations about the required occupational qualifications for those working in early years and childcare with children below the age of 8 years.

Flying Start and Foundation Phase provision that sit within day care services have additional qualification requirements to those laid out in the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare. They have been set by the Welsh Government and they are laid out in the qualification tables.

With reference to NNEB qualifications specifically, the confusion appears to be that when searching for the qualifications they appear under CACHE awards and not National Nursery Examination Board So, when looking for confirmation of NNEB qualifications on the List, you should look under CACHE.

Using the link below, you will find that all CACHE Awards at Level 2 and 3 appear on the List of "Required Qualifications" and "Past qualifications" accepted for regulations.

Flying Start Practitioners, both current required qualifications and past qualifications which are accepted are required at Level 3.

We trust you find this useful.

I qualified as a NNEB in 1983. I have worked for my local council for over 30 years in the primary setting. A few years ago it was proposed that you could change over to a level 3 TA. I refused this offer as I felt my training and qualification far outweighed the training received for the latter status.Now a Total Reward scheme is being introduced and the NNEBs that remain are being transferred to the Level 2 equivalent pay scale.I therefore feel under valued and very disappointed that with many years experience we are now being treated like incompetent childcare/educational providers. I have been a practising NNEB longer than many of the 'new' level 3's have been born. How can excellent training and experience count for nothing?

I did the NNEB course in 1986 to 88 and can honestly say it was the most intensive field of study I have ever completed. I will always remember the" PIES" Physical development, Intelectual development, Emotional development and Social development. The only professions who knew more about child development than NNEB's at that time were Midwives and Paediatritions. When they re graded the qualification they destroyed years of quality early years intervention. I'm now a fire fighter!! I left because of the poor career structure and because of the low estiem the profession was held in by successive governmant's and local authorities alike which, in turn, drove down wages and undermined this wonderful qualification.
However,my NNEB qualification, believe it or not,has had a
major impact for me within my role in the fire service, as I am now able to advise fellow Firefighters and management in the most effective ways to deliver Fire safety advice to y2 and y6 in our fire station area. So! my NNEB still has a positive impact 27 years after qualifying. The NNEB course must!!! be re instated if we are to give our children the very best possible start to thier educational experience.
NB I once challenged the need for such intensive studying of child developmant during my time as a student. This was because I intended to work with disabled children and didn't feel the need to go into so much detail. "TO RECOGNISE THE ABNORMAL, WE MUST FIRST RECOGNISE THE NORMAL" replied my tutor! That tutor's name was Thelma Wignall!! I will never forget that reply! And that is the difference between NNEB and Level 3

Totally agree having had 30 years experience in early years care and education after my intense nneb training. I will stand by my strong belief having had to train people to gain their new 3 and having worked with with other nova 3 colleagues that they are clearly not o the same level as nvq. It is training On the cheap and a short cut and easier way to being so-called qualified.

Could anybody clarify what the entry requirements were for the NNEB? I qualified in 1992 and am now being challenged as to whether I have maths and English at O level equivalent,Grade C GCSE.

The NNEB did not attach a specific entry requirement to its qualification. However, colleges and training institutions would have had their own entry criteria and you could contact your place of study for definite clarification should you want to. In the meantime, I'd like to draw your attention to much of the above information, in particular, the updates from 3rd December 2014 onwards - the associated links are all still live. The qualification list to show that a qualification is full and relevant can be viewed at and includes the NNEB. I hope this helps.

I qualified as an nneb in 1998 and I am very proud of my qualification. I have worked in a number of schools, nurseries and then later went into a nursing home and finally into a hospital... when I applied for my current position in a children's department it asked for a nneb/ level 3. After over 10 years my boss has said I have to do level 3 to save my pay scale as nneb is so old. Can you help me . I feel so under appreciated and worthless.

Emma, please draw your employer’s attention to my previous comment above, ie:

“The NNEB did not attach a specific entry requirement to its qualification. However, colleges and training institutions would have had their own entry criteria and you could contact your place of study for definite clarification should you want to.

“In the meantime, I’d like to draw your attention to much of the above information, in particular, the updates from 3rd December 2014 onwards – the associated links are all still live.

“The qualification list to show that a qualification is full and relevant can be viewed at and includes the NNEB.”

I hope this helps.

I qualified as a NNEB in 1990. I worked in many childcare sectors in the UK and was a nursery manager in the UK with 30 years experience in childcare.
I moved to Rep of Ireland and was told my NNEB was only a QQI level 5 (Leaving cert) and i was not qualified to work with children unsupervised.
Can some one please help me is NNEB a NVQ level 3 and is NVQ level 3 a higher Dip?
If so how do i stand in Ireland?
Thanking you all in advance Karen x

Your could also write to Cache at :

NCFE, Q6 Quorum Business Park, Benton Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE12 8BT

or call 0345 347 2123 or + 44 (0)1727 818616 (from Ireland)


The NNEB is not officially recognised in Ireland, but Cache can advise on its equivalence, which should allowing you to work in the Irish Republic.

Just checking that the NNEB is a level 3 ?
That's so much!

According to

“From 1 September 2014, all level 3 qualifications must meet the early years educator criteria. This means that all staff who have registered for a qualification since that date can be counted in the EYFS staff:child ratios at level 3 if they hold:

Search our full list of early years qualifications that meet the early years educator criteria. “

NNEB listed there:

I am trying to find out if these can be used in Australia and if so what Level they might be.

This site might help or they could advise you:

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