What is Early Years teaching?

Early Years teaching involves playing an essential role in children’s development between birth and the age of five - offering high-quality education through the delivery of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Teaching may take place across a variety of settings, including nurseries, preschools and reception classes.

As an Early Years teacher, the activities you plan should motivate children and creatively use resources to support learning and development of social and communication skills, whilst meeting the requirements of the EYFS. Overall, your work will support children in preparation for the successful transition into primary school.

To register your interest in becoming an Early Years teacher and to receive further details register through the GOV.UK website and see the information included below.

What do you need to be an Early Years teacher?

Alongside relevant qualifications, outlined in the training routes section below, there are a range of skills and qualities you will need to develop and demonstrate in order to progress in this teaching role.

These include the ability to motivate and stimulate a child’s learning ability; offering pastoral care and support to children; assisting with the development of their overall development, including social, language and physical skills; and developing a range of learning resources to develop their curiosity and knowledge.

Additionally, you will need to feel confident in working with others - building and maintaining relationships with other practitioners and parents and in keeping on top of changes in the curriculum and developments in best practice.

Getting experience

Before applying for training to become an Early Years Practitioner it will be essential to gain experience in an appropriate setting that enhances skills and knowledge around literacy, language, numeracy and planning educational activities.

This experience could be gained through a wide range of opportunities, including within a classroom environment, volunteering at a local playgroup or play scheme or within children’s centres.

Examples of early years-related roles that have been advertised via the Careers and Employability Service Volunteering Bank include:

  • Children’s Activity Support Volunteer with Gosport Discovery Centre - assisting in preparing materials for a range of engaging activities and in delivering the activity sessions with children and their families.
  • Nursery Volunteer with The Roberts Centre - engaging in stream training and interacting with children through a range of play activities.
  • Home Visiting Volunteer with Home-Start Portsmouth - visiting a family within their home to assist based on their needs; supporting with access to local services and/or connecting with their local community; and assisting with practical help such as playing or reading stories.

You can access further information about current volunteering opportunities in the Portsmouth area through your MyCareer account or email the Volunteering Team with any queries on volunteering@port.ac.uk.

You are also able to source your own volunteering opportunities independently and/or when you head home during the summer. We recommend the following websites to assist you:

  • Do IT - The UK’s national volunteering database lists volunteer roles that are posted by volunteer centres, national and local charities and voluntary groups, making it easy for you to search for opportunities to volunteer in your community.

Training routes and funding

The requirements for Early Years teaching are similar to primary level and are outlined below:

  • You will be required to have a degree and at least 4 GCSE C / 4 (or equivalent) in English, Maths and Science to train.

  • All training providers will ensure that you have the fundamental knowledge in numeracy and literacy required for education at this stage either during the recruitment process or during the training course. Each course provider will also have their own way of assessing these criteria. Since April 2020 this has replaced the requirement to undergo a standardised professional skills test for these two core subject areas. 

  • You will be required to undertake your early years initial teacher training (ITT) and demonstrate that you have met the Teachers’ Standards for Early Years.

  • These operate in parallel with the current Teachers’ Standards, and have been designed specifically for early years teachers to ensure that your training and assessment is appropriate for children from birth to age five. Please note that EYITT leads to the award of Early Years Teacher Status, not Qualified Teacher Status, which is required to lead teaching and learning in maintained schools.
    (This information has been sourced from the Department for Education website, 2020). 

The following information appears on the GOV.UK website and outlines the main training routes and associated funding available.

The information in this section is based on information from the 2020/21 academic year and should be used as guidance only for funding that may be available in 2021/22. Check the sources linked in the content below regularly for updated details as figures are subject to change.

All options lead to early years teacher status (EYTS) upon completion:

  • Undergraduate

Undergraduate degrees offer a full-time three or four-year training route leading to EYTS when studying for a degree in an early childhood-related subject. Tuition  and/or maintenance loans are available from Student Finance England (SFE) to support costs throughout your studies.

  • Graduate entry

    Graduate training is typically undertaken over the course of one year and EYITT providers will receive a training grant of £7,000 to cover course fees which are awarded by the Department for Education. Trainees who have a record of high academic achievement will also be eligible to receive a training bursary to further support in covering costs.

  • Graduate employment-based

The graduate employment-based route into EYITT is available to graduates who are in paid employment and/or already in an early years setting.Training typically takes place over a one year period and is a combination of study and employment. This route provides an opportunity where further training and experience is required in order to demonstrate early years teachers’ standards.

For graduates wishing to take up this route a £14,000 contribution towards costs is available which is made up of a £7,000 training grant for EYITT providers and a £7,000 employer incentive to support your employer’s funding whilst you train.

  • Assessment Only

    The Assessment Only training option is a self-funded route available to graduates who either are very experienced at working with children from birth to 5 years or and can demonstrate the early years teacher’s standard without any additional training.

If you are looking to start or continue studying at the University of Portsmouth, the School of Education and Sociology offers a three year full-time undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Studies, which also incorporates the opportunity to gain Early Years Teacher Status. 

Alternatively, a full overview of Early Years ITT accredited providers are listed on the Department for Education website. Please see further information here. You can also explore relevant postgraduate courses in early years through the Prospects website.

Application process 

Depending on which study route you choose to take the application process is likely to vary. However, most routes are likely to require a personal statement outlining your interest in and suitability for the course, whether you’re a recent graduate or a professional embarking on further professional training.

The Careers and Employability Service can support you in developing a strong personal statement for your application. Once you have drafted your personal statement you can either call in or use our MyCareer online booking system  to make an appointment to discuss your statement with an adviser.

Getting a job once qualified

As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you to research the opportunities available:

  • Nursery World - Offers news and best practice in childcare, EYFS and early years education. The site also advertises job opportunities in the sector.

  • Children & Young People Now Jobs - Has a search tool for vacancies within early years settings/within childcare.

  • EduStaff - Outlines job vacancies across different levels of education, but has a specific search option for EYFS positions.

  • Get Into Teaching - Provides helpful information about training routes to become an early years teacher. The site also outlines the different skills and standards required in the role, in addition to the latest news, publications and statistics.

  • Times Educational Supplement - Provides the latest news, teaching resources and discussion from the teaching world. The TES also advertises jobs in teaching and leadership opportunities.

  • Eteach - A leading specialist of education recruitment - utilised by schools and other education providers to promote vacancies.

  • Daynurseries.co.uk - Offers a jobs board to search for nursery-based vacancies and an opportunity to register for an online account to submit applications and save job searches.

  • Protocol Education - A teacher recruitment agency featuring opportunities for early years teachers.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.