Become an Early Years Teacher

Become an Early Years Teacher

17th June 20

Early years teachers work with children between birth and the age of 5. They not only enable parents to work but perform a vital role in children’s early development.

Research suggests that by learning through play, and socialising in an early years setting develops stronger cognitive and social abilities in children, compared to those who don’t. 

For the child it is an opportunity to develop, learn and grow through playing with children of their own age.

By choosing to become an early years teacher you will play an important role in the development of young children. You will nurture them through developing their first friendships, all the way to preparing them for primary school.

Becoming an early years teacher is more than just a 9-5 job. You will take a direct and active role in the development of children in your care, helping them to develop.

Professionally, training to be an early years teacher opens up a great many opportunities. Aside from working in a nursery or pre-school, you will also be in a position to start your own nursery or childcare service.

Learndirect | Become an Early Years Teacher | How to Become an Early Years Teacher

How do you become an Early Years Teacher?

Much like a teacher in a school setting, to be an early years teacher you are required to be educated to a minimum standard.

The government website doesn’t specify what degree you need in order to move forward with your training. Some institutes specifically offer degrees in early years education so research your options thoroughly before you commit to an approach.

You will need a degree and at least a GCSE C/4 grade in English, maths and science. You will also need to take a test in numeracy and literacy.

Assuming you pass you will then need to gain an early years Initial Teacher Training (ITT) qualification. This will demonstrate that you’ve met the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years).

Learndirect | Become an Early Years Teacher | Training Routes

Training Routes

There are several different routes into early years teaching, giving the greatest number of people the opportunity to train.

The good news is, whichever route you choose to take, you will gain early years teacher status (EYTS).

Graduate entry – usually a year of full-time study, with a £7000 grant to cover course fees as well as bursaries of up to £9000 for graduates with a first class degree, £4000 for graduates with 2:1 degrees and £2000 for graduates with a 2:2.

School Direct (Early Years) graduate entry – this route lets you train within a group of schools or nurseries with the expectation of employment once you achieve early years teacher status.

Graduate employment-based – a one-year part-time route for graduates working in an early years setting who need further training to demonstrate the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). Funding of £14,000 is available, this covers course fees of up to £7000. The remaining £7000 is a contribution to the costs incurred by your employer, for example supply cover or salary enhancement.

Undergraduate – a full-time three to four-year route leading to EYTS. This route is for people studying for an early childhood-related degree subject. Tuition fee loans are available from Student Finance England.

Assessment Only – this self-funded route takes three months and is ideal for graduates with experience of working with children from birth to 5 and who meet the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) with no need for further training, for example an early years teacher from overseas.

What if you don’t have a degree?

If you don’t have the qualifications, you need to get an undergraduate degree, but you are not without options.

Firstly, you can choose to take the A Levels. Your chosen university may well specify preferred subjects in which case it makes sense to study those.

Alternatively, there are a number of different diplomas you can study in early years and playwork. Again, universities will have different entry requirements so you may need more than one diploma to be eligible to enrol.

The Access to HE Diploma (Education) will also give you a relevant qualification to get you into university. Moreover, it will also get you on to teaching courses if you want to pivot your career in the future.

With most of these courses you won’t need previous experience or qualifications in order to enrol.

Whichever approach you take, by the time you’ve gained your qualifications you will possess the knowledge, skills and confidence for a successful career in early years education.

But you will also have a nationally recognised qualification that will be the foundation of a fun and fulfilling career.

Learndirect | Become an Early Years Teacher | What is their Role?

What is an Early Years Practitioner’s role?

No two days are the same for the average early years teacher.

You will be encouraging infants and children to learn and develop through play and teaching. An important part of this will be encouraging the use of the child’s imagination.

You will be responsible for making them feel safe in their environment to express themselves and try new things. This can be through arts and crafts, storytelling or using props such as toys and puppets.

An extension of this learning through play will be to develop literary, language and numeracy skills.

You will develop a support plan tailored for each child in order to help them achieve key developmental targets ahead of their transition into primary school.

A big part of this is helping to carry out tasks independently or work collaboratively with other children. Rather than relying on you or your colleagues for support.

You will also work with parents to address concerns of help to continue their development in the child’s home setting.


Choosing a career in early years teaching is to embark on a career of fulfilment. All you need to do is enrol on the right course for you and get the qualifications you need to achieve.

Opting for distance learning gives you the advantage of organising your studies around your existing commitments. That way, if you’re still working ahead of your career change, you don’t need to choose between learning and earning.

Plus, you get to set the pace of your education. So, if you want to complete your course in 6 months or two years, you have that choice available to you.

All you need to do is get in touch or sign up online. There are flexible payment terms available to help you spread the cost.

You will also have access to a dedicated tutor who will help you through the process. Check out our blog for useful tips on how to get the most out of your study experience.


learndirect offer a fully approved Access to HE Diploma (Education) in order to help you realise your ambitions.

Enrol today or contact a member of our sales team today to learn more.

Learndirect | Become an Early Years Teacher | Enrol Today

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