10 April, 2024 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

What is the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund?

Preschool teacher with children smiling

The Nurturing Skills Learner Fund (NSLF) is a government fund to help cover the costs of early years practitioners taking on level 7 and level 8 early childhood care and education qualifications.

The NSLF is a brand new pilot fund, it was announced in 2023 through the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY).

The courses covered by the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme at Portobello Institute include:

The fund helps early years educators pursue early learning and care (ELC) qualifications that have been approved by the Qualifications Advisory Board (QAB) while continuing to work in the sector, in line with commitments in Nurturing Skills: The Workforce Plan for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare, 2022-2028.

According to this workforce plan, at the heart of Nurturing Skills is a vision of “a well-qualified, skilled, diverse and valued professional workforce that is centred on children’s rights, needs and potential and that provides quality experiences for children in partnership with families, and which continues to advance its professional development within a coherent and competent system.”

The Nurturing Skills Learner Fund is set to play an important role in achieving this vision.

In other words, the government, through the DCEDIY is investing in supporting early childhood practitioners to upskill. 

The funding should make gaining your level 7 or level 8 degree in early childhood care and education more accessible by covering a large portion of the cost. 

Portobello Institute makes your degree accessible to you by offering a flexible, online delivery of the course content and one-to-one support.

If you are working in the early years sector in Ireland, this fund is your best opportunity to take the leap and gain your degree to keep up with the sector which is developing at a rapid pace. 

A level 6 qualification is the current minimum requirement to work in Early Learning and Care (ELC) in Ireland. However, this is expected to develop to level 7 in future as more of the sector are qualified and a degree becomes the norm. 

Portobello Institute is here to support you with this leap, no matter how daunting higher education may seem, your computer skills, work or family commitments or how long it has been since you last studied, we are here to support you on this journey. 

How Much of the Cost Does the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme Cover?

Fees for the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme are calculated as follows:

  • Cost per academic year: €3,600
  • Nurture Fund Grant at 80% of fee: €2,880
  • Cost to student per academic year: €720

Important: If you remain working in the early years sector for 6 months after completion of the course, you will be entitled to reclaim 10% of the total fees i.e. €360 per academic year.

The total cost to the student, after this rebate, will be €720 for the 2 years of the level 7 degree.

Payment method – pay €720 to secure your place in year 1.

A similar amount will be payable on or before 30th June 2025 to secure your place and confirm progression to year 2.

Students will need to provide evidence of NSLF approval to Portobello Institute when applying for either of the degree programmes. 

How will I know if I am eligible? 

To qualify for financial support through the NSLF, all course applicants must currently be employed in an Early Learning and Care (ELC) or School Aged Childcare (SAC) service under contract for DCEDIY’s Core Funding program. 

How many places are available? 

This is a pilot fund with the number of places allocated for funding limited.

It is essential to register your interest and submit your application early to avail of this extraordinary opportunity.

Application Timeline 

Applications for the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund will open in May 2024, for degree programmes commencing in October 2024.

To ensure that you keep up to date with the fund application timelines, please complete the initial Expression of Interest form provided below and we will be in touch with you as soon the application window is open.  

Portobello Institute is delighted to be part of the NSLF and looks forward to supporting you in furthering your education and career in Early Learning and Care. 

Please note - this is a pilot fund and the number of places allocated are limited, registering your interest and early application will be essential to ensure you don't lose this opportunity.

Students will need to provide evidence of NSLF approval to Portobello Institute after applying for either of the degree programmes. 

From 1st May 2024, applicants can email Pobal, at NSLF@pobal.ie to request a link to the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Student Portal. Applicants will be required to complete a number of pre-requisite tasks prior to completing the application process.

The full NSLF application process will open in early June, with NSLF applicants being notified by Pobal of a decision early July.

Register your Interest

Please fill in this form to let us know that you are interested and we will contact you with more information.

Which Qualification is Right For Me?

If you hold a major award in Early Childhood Care and Education or Early Learning and Care at level 6 or equivalent you can complete the BA Ord Early Childhood Care and Education degree in just two years and there will be an opportunity to go onto a one-year BA Honours (level 8) programme after its completion.

If you hold an award in Early Childhood Care and Education at level 7, you can complete a level 8 award in one year at Portobello Institute.

Why Choose Portobello Institute?

Portobello Institute foundations lie in early years education since 1981.

We have a longstanding reputation in the early years sector, offering you flexibility through our blended learning delivery so you can study on your own time while balancing family and work commitments.

Many of our graduates found our delivery and one-to-one support helped them to go further than they ever thought possible, as our tutors take a personal interest in your success, nurturing every student to achieve their best.

Our tutors are knowledgeable, experienced practitioners who know all of the latest changes in the sector, as well as the foundational principles necessary for success in early childhood care and education.

Corine's Peter's Portobello Institute Early Years Success Story

Read Corine's Success Story here.

Ann Maher Success Story Portobello Institute Early Years

Read Ann's Success Story here.

Anna Portobello Early Years Success Story

Read Anna's Success Story here.

If you are interested in obtaining funding through the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme please register your interest by completing the form above and we will be in touch with you.

If you have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert course advisor Sarah Coyne email sarah.coyne@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0041.

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