University of Chester

Programme Specification
Early Years Practice PGCert
2015 - 2016

Postgraduate Certificate

Early Years Practice

Early Years Practice with Early Years Teacher Status

University of Chester

University of Chester

Faculty of Education and Children's Services at the Riverside Campus

Chester Campus


Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory, Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)

1 year

3 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Initial Teacher Education

QAA (2008). The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - Descriptors for Higher Education at level 7: Masters Degrees

QAA (2010). Master's degree characteristics

National College for Teaching and Leadership (2013) "Teachers' Standards (Early Years)"


The National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) confirms Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS).



ITE Postgraduate MAB

Wednesday 22nd April 2015

The programme aims to secure professional and academic learning consistent with a Masters level philosophy by:

  • promoting scholarship;
  • cultivating original thinking;
  • facilitating critical reflection;
  • stimulating research and enquiry;
  • influencing impact and change.

It aims to achieve this by:

  • promoting an academically challenging course in the area of early years practice (working with children aged 0 - 5 years) that will equip students to contribute to the provision of effective and appropriate services for children and in other areas of employment;
  • enabling the student to apply the methods and techniques that they have learned, to explain, critically reflect upon and critically assess their own practice, and the legislative and historical framework in which they work to take a well-informed part in current debates in the field;
  • developing a critical understanding of appropriate pedagogical approaches to work with children and families;
  • enabling students to critically explore, without prejudice or discrimination, the development and learning needs and experience of all children in a diverse society.

The above aims are underpinned by the Faculty of Education and Children's Services principles of learning and teaching, which include:

  • promoting open-minded systematic enquiry and reflective practice;
  • encouraging students  to take responsibility for their own learning and teachers to take responsibility for facilitating that learning;
  • enabling the expansion of opportunity and the removal of unnecessary barriers to learning;
  • facilitating the development of learning to equip students as life-long learners:
  • ensuring that learning and teaching is underpinned by a rationale for equity, diversity and inclusion;

taking account of relevant and current legislation concerning the development and well-being of children and young people.

All modules contribute to students achieving the following generic outcomes:

  • critically engage with theoretical frameworks and literature;
  • harnessed insights into subject knowledge;
  • critically reviewed the ways in which research methodology supports professional enquiry;
  • applied critical considerations when undertaking research;
  • made effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice;
  • demonstrated and employed good pedagogical knowledge and understanding of the varying needs of young children;
  • demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the principles of learning and development in the Early years  including those relating to:
    • anti-discriminatory practice and equality of opportunity;
    • the regulatory and legislative framework governing the organisation and delivery of early years care and education;
    • curricular documentation, both statutory and advisory; in the management, organisation and delivery of early years care and education;
    • how to identify and draw upon academic sources to inform and enhance professional practice.    

Additionally, those seeking recommendation for Early Years Teacher Status, will have achieved the learning outcomes defined in the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) specified by the National College for Teaching and Leadership. 

(PR7201, PR7202, PR7203, PR0701,  PR0702,  PR0703,  PR0704,  PR0705)

All modules contribute to students achieving the following generic outcomes:

  • made critical use of research evidence and the findings of inspection;
  • formulated valid conclusions that link theory to practice;
  • learned to think independently about essential issues, concepts and ideas;
  • worked independently and collaboratively - managing time, workload and the demands and responsibilities of being a professional;    
  • identified their own learning needs as part of their on-going professional development;
  • reflected critically on their own professional experience and development in the light of relevant educational literature;
  • engaged critically with relevant educational issues within education and children’s services, including Government policies and structures;
  • analysed and responded to relevant issues in the early years (0-5);
  • identified and responded to the pastoral and learning needs of young children;
  • communicated ideas, principles and theories, arguments and analysis effectively to a variety of audiences, using a variety of methods;
  • demonstrated appropriate critical thinking skills e.g. identified and summarised main points in an argument, developed an argument drawing upon evidence and literature, analysed and synthesised research, theories and ideas, examining issues from a range of professional perspectives and produced evaluative responses;
  • used a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information relating to their emerging roles as teachers, and to propose solutions to problems arising in work settings.

(PR7201, PR7202, PR7203, PR0701,  PR0702,  PR0703,  PR0704,  PR0705)

All modules contribute to students being able to critically reflect upon aspects of professional practice in the light of key theoretical perspectives.

Students seeking recommendation for Early Years Teacher Status will have:

  • developed the skills required for professional practice with young children aged 0 - 5 years in accordance with the Teachers' Standards (EYTS);
  • interacted with others and been encouraged to demonstrate how theoretical understanding of children’s welfare may have influenced learning and practice;
  • developed an awareness of how children and young people develop, including how to record information in an appropriate manner;
  • supported transitions and understood the importance of supporting children’s security when engaged in day-to-day practice for their own professional development;
  • developed an understanding of their own role and responsibility and how this is conveyed to others;
  • developed an understanding of how working with others is underpinned by values and beliefs concerning treating children and staff with respect;
  • ensured that they are aware of, engaged with and collated evidence  that fully meets the Teachers' Standards (Early Years).

 (PR7201, PR7202, PR7203, PR0701,  PR0702,  PR0703,  PR0704,  PR0705)

All modules contribute to students achieving the following generic outcomes, that is, students will have:

  • written to academic standards required at level 7;
  • engaged in meaningful debate and critical discussion;
  • read critically;
  • synthesised written and oral information;
  • maintained a reflective/learning journal, and used the reflections to inform and develop their critical reflectivity and reflexivity;
  • had the opportunity to build on communication and engagement with children young people, and their families and carers, including skills related to:
    • active listening;
    • the importance of respect;
  • understanding and adherence to matters of confidentiality and ethics.

(PR7201, PR7202, PR7203, PR0701,  PR0702,  PR0703,  PR0704,  PR0705)

This programme will attract graduates with BA Hons Early Childhood Studies and related degrees. It will also attract those people who have started to pursue a career working with young children, but who have a first degree in a different, but possibly related subject.  The programme comprises two parts:

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Early Years Practice (PG Cert EYP).
  • Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT), leading to recommendation for conferment of Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).

As the PG Cert EYP can be studied independently from EYITT, this part of the programme may also be of interest to those seeking professional development and/or a stepping stone to MA study. Experience practitioners daunted by the prospect of enrolling on a full MA programme, would be able to use one or other or both parts of this programme as their starting point.

A student wishing to complete both parts of the programme would be able to study each part in tandem or consecutively depending on their interest, state of employment and level of qualifications.

To achieve the PG Certificate EYP (University of Chester award), students will be required to have successfully completed three compulsory Level 7, 20-credit models: 

PR 7201 The Unique Child.

PR 7202 Children and their Worlds.

PR 7203 Developing Critically Reflective Practice in the Early Years.

These will be taught on a part-time basis, following the same model as many of the Faculty of Education and Children's Services Postgraduate programmes. Each module will have timetabled teaching sessions for two Friday evenings and all day Saturday study week-ends, with modules studied sequentially during the year. This will provide the opportunity for some students to achieve the PG Certificate EYP in one year, specifically those:

  • registered on the full-time, Graduate Entry (GEM) Pathway;
  • who already have EYTS, or its precursor, Early Years Professional Status;
  • taking the Assessment-only pathway, but who wish to also study for the PG Certificate  EYP.

To be recommended for the Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) EYTS award

Those students enrolled on the EYITT part of the programme will complete six modules (with the code beginning PR0), which carry no academic credit. These modules provide: (i) for experience in the work-place; (ii) professional development support for students; (iii) students' support for the development of their practice and preparation for assessment against the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years).

All students following the EYITT part of the programme (both full-time and part-time students) will attend timetabled sessions for the following modules:

PR 0701 Professional Development in the Early Years 1;

PR 0702 Professional Development in the Early Years 2;

PR 0705 Transition and the National Curriculum.

All EYITT students will be required to undertake at total of at least 120 placement days. They will also be required to register for two other non-credit bearing modules, requiring at least 120 days experience in two different settings, ensuring that they work with the full 0-5 age range:

PR 0703 Practice Development in the Early Years 1;

PR 0704 Practice Development in the Early Years 2.

In addition to the taught aspects of PR 0705 Transition and the National Curriculum, students will be required to complete a minimum 10 days in Key Stage 1.

Those following the part-time EYITT pathway (Graduate Employment Based) will be able to include approximately 60 days working in their home setting as equivalent to placement days for one Practice Development module, and will be required to work in an alternative setting for the remaining days, up to a total of 120 days. 

Additionally, all EYITT students will be required to spend a minimum of 10 days in a Key Stage 1 setting, and provide evidence of having completed this as part of their assessed portfolio.

For the taught part of the programme, one Professional Development module and one Practice Development Module will run concurrently throughout the year, alongside students' placement experience.

For purposes of identification and subsequent recommending for EYTS, EYITT students will be registered on a further non-credit bearing module (PR0706) which will be assessed on a pass/fail basis.  A pass will be recorded where students have met all the placement requirements in the z modules and have met the Teachers' Standards (Early Years) at the appropriate level as evidenced in a portfolio.   

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PR0701 0 Professional Development in the Early Years 1 0 Optional
PR0702 0 Professional Development in the Early Years 2 0 Optional
PR0703 0 Practice Development in the Early Years 1 0 Optional
PR0704 0 Practice Development in the Early Years 2 0 Optional
PR0705 0 Transition and the National Curriculum 0 Optional
PR0706 0 EYTS Practice Assessment 0 Optional
PR7201 7 The Unique Child 20 Comp
PR7202 7 Children and their Worlds 20 Comp
PR7203 7 Developing Critically Reflective Practice in the Early Years 20 Comp

On successful completion of the PGCert EYP award the candidate will have achieved:
Level 7: 60 credits

Students will be recommended for the conferment of Early Years Teacher Status by the NCTL by successfully completing the non-credit bearing modules and submitting an appropriate portfolio of evidence against the Teachers' Standards (Early Years) On satisfactory completion of each of these elements a pass will be recorded in the module for EYTS (PR0706).

For all ITT programmes we have been granted derogation as follows:

- Derogation that students must pass all modules without compensation
- Derogation that students must pass all components in all modules without compensation

This is justified because of the requirement that students address the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) which have been carefully mapped onto each module to ensure full coverage. Students need to pass all components of all modules in order to have the evidence of meeting, at a good level or above, the Teachers' Standards in their university and school-based learning.

Early Years ITT leads to recommendation to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) for the award of Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS).

Training and assessment are designed around the Teachers' Standards for Early Years, known officially as the NCTL Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). These standards operate in parallel with the Teachers’ Standards for the award of qualified teacher status (QTS) and are designed specifically for high quality work with the birth to 5 years age range. Early years teachers must demonstrate that they also understand the continuum of education including the curriculum into Key Stages 1 and 2. To be awarded Early Years Teacher Status, all students must meet these robust standards.

Students registering as EYITT students must register for the following modules:

PR0701  Professional Development in the Early Years 1;

PR0702 Professional Development in the Early Years 2;

PR0703  Practice Development in the Early Years 1;

PR0704  Practice Development in the Early Years 2;

PR0705 Transition and the National Curriculum;

PR0706 EYTS Practice Assessment

and the module for EYTS application (which clarifies a pass in the portfolio submission and overall meeting of requirements for EYTS).

The University requires EYITT students to register for PR7203 Developing Critically Reflective Practice. 

The entry requirements for the two parts of the programme differ. The requirements for the different pathway options are set out below:

For PG Cert in Early Years Practice only:

  • at least a 2:2 honours degree. However, students without a first degree but with exceptional professional experience and evidence of the ability to study at level 7 will also be considered;
  • relevant experience of working with babies and children (paid or voluntary);
  • GCSE English at grade C+ (or equivalent) is essential and Maths at grade C+(or equivalent) is desirable;
  • Disclosure and Barring Service Enhanced Disclosure.


  • at least a 2:2 honours degree;
  • relevant experience of working with children (paid or voluntary);
  • must have GCSE English, Science and Maths at grade C+ or above (or recognised NCTL equivalent);
  • must have a current Disclosure and Barring Service Enhanced Disclosure and must not have previously been excluded from working with children (this will be applied for via the University of Chester as part of the admissions process);
  • must have passed the Professional Skills Tests for ITT before commencing the programme;
  • declare that they are physically and mentally fit to work as an Early Years Teacher.

Furthermore, the NCTL requires that, in selecting students for interview, the following will be considered:

  • the student’s ability to read effectively and communicate clearly and accurately in spoken and written standard English;
  • the quality of the student’s written application, in particular their reasons for applying for the training;
  • any evidence of the student’s commitment to working with young children;
  • the student’s ability to reflect on their experiences;
  • the student’s ability to articulate their emerging philosophy for early years practice.

Both parts of the programme are open to graduates who hold either a relevant first degree (or higher) or unrelated first degree (or higher). To be eligible for National College for Teaching and Leadership funding associated with EYITT, those applying for Graduate Entry, Graduate Employment Based pathways must meet all relevant entry requirements to the EYITT part of the programme.

A student coming from an unrelated degree background may be advised at interview to undertake reading to help build up some specific areas of knowledge and understanding of the subject, particularly in key areas such as child development and early years curriculum. Direction towards key reading material will be offered to the student at interview. Additionally, they will be advised to engage in voluntary or paid employment with young children as far as possible to support their studies and their professional development. A review of the student's preparation will be a feature of an early tutorial designed to discuss the student's personalised learning plan.

Applications are to come to the University directly and those deemed potentially suitable for the programme will be invited to interview. 


There are no QAA benchmark statements for postgraduate study in Early Years Practice. The design of the structure and content of the PG Cert EYP has been guided by the NCTL ITT programme and the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years), it also reflects the QAA Masters Degree Characteristics (QAA, 2010). the PGCert EYP is designed to meet the generic statement of outcomes set out in the qualification descriptor within QAA Framework for Higher Education qualifications for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (2008). As this PGCert is of the professional/practice type, it includes taught and research-based elements alongside time spent in professional practice.

The EYITT part of the programme, however, operates within the parameters set by the National College for Teaching and Leadership Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). To be awarded Early Years Teacher Status, students must demonstrate that they meet these standards through a portfolio of evidence. The non-credit bearing modules have therefore been designed to support students following the GEM and GEB EYITT pathways in the development of the knowledge, understanding and practice required for successful assessment against these standards. The Professional Development Portfolio provided for students to record and reflect on their own progress, as well as student/mentor progress reviews, will be based on the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years), therefore providing students, mentors and University Link Tutors with on-going reference to these standards.

The programme will work within the framework of the University's Teaching and Learning Strategy which defines four strategic aims:

  • to develop successful learners;
  • to design inclusive curricula;
  • to promote excellence in teaching practice;
  • to build institutional capacity for change.

As this is a professional programme the student will be involved in observational practice. 

The programme will also reflect the Learning and Teaching Strategy for the Faculty of Education and Children's Services which commits to pedagogical principles that:

  • promote professional engagement and reflective practice;
  • encourage independent and autonomous learning;
  • support continuing professional development;

and to the principles of teaching that:

  • value students' professional experience and prior learning;
  • support diversity and personalised learning;
  • encourage dynamic and participative learning;
  • promote collaborative learning;
  • encourage Internet and Web-based approaches;
  • support reflective and practitioner enquiry.

The main methods of teaching will be:

  • lectures;
  • tutor led seminars;
  • student led discussions, seminars and tutorials;
  • group sessions;
  • individual tutorials;
  • independent study;
  • use of audio and eLearning material. 

Formative assessment feedback is available during the modules.

A variety of formative and summative assessment strategies are used throughout this programme. Formative assessment used in a range of different situations will enable the student to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in both the academic and practical field in order to make effective progress and to identify individual needs. A high level of interaction during contact time with students will provide important opportunities for formative feedback. It is anticipated that this will be used in conjunction with any feedback from the workplace/Mentor about the quality of the student's work and tutorial support will be incorporated into each of the modules.

The range of assessment methods used is designed to ensure that students have the opportunity to demonstrate achievement in all the learning outcomes. A particular feature of this is to allow for formative assessment of the knowledge, skills and understanding required for Early Years Teacher Status to be awarded. Methods also facilitate opportunity for the student to demonstrate their ability to apply and analyse a range of information to demonstrate that they are becoming reflective practitioners. The longitudinal nature of the professional practice module allows for flexibility in the timing of assessment. This approach should help to make the process more manageable for students and staff. Furthermore the assessment of other modules is timed to coincide with a practical experience to enable the student to draw on their reflections of the relationship between theoretical principles and practice in the early years.

In general terms, students are assessed on their ability to:

  • demonstrate critical insight of knowledge and understanding of child development and of the learning and development needs of young children aged 0 - 5 years;
  • discuss, interpret and critically analyse a range of literature;
  • utilise the transferable communication and rhetorical skills of speaking, listening, reading, writing and arguing;
  • conduct independent and collaborative research, using relevant skills and methods.


Students who engage with this postgraduate programme will:

  • become knowledgeable and critically reflective practitioners;
  • be critical thinkers who can articulate their views with confidence and conviction;
  • have increased knowledge of the political arena and the current service agenda for children and families;
  • have read widely and engaged with theoretical frameworks firstly to develop and then challenge their views, beliefs and understandings;
  • have become confident in their ability to research and use theoretical principles to underpin their knowledge and understanding of effective practice in the early years and to effect change;
  • have substantial placement time to support theoretical knowledge and understanding that will help them to develop professional integrity and become sufficiently secure to confront and manage change and to lead and support others in the early years foundation stage.

There is an expectation that students will exit this programme with a PG Cert EYP with Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS). However, students who are successful in their academic studies but unsuccessful in meeting the Teachers’ Standards for EY may be awarded a PG Cert EYP. Furthermore, students who fail the academic element could still be successful in meeting the Teachers’ Standards for EY; thus, subject to meeting all the placement learning outcomes and requirements, including the requisite number of days, and the confirmation by the NCTL, the status can still be achieved. 

The aspiration of the programme is that GEB (p/t) students, having completed one level 7 module (PR7203), will go on to complete the PG Cert EYP. Once students have completed the PG Cert EYP, they will have the opportunity to continue on to further level 7 study through e.g. MA Early Childhood, Creativity for the Professions, Education Leadership.

Practitioners with PG Cert EYP with EYTS will be excellent in their practice, able to model good practice, support colleagues to develop their own practice; to be a 'change agent'. The University hopes that the development a community of Early Years practitioners qualified at this level, will help to raise the status of the profession and develop practitioner-based research to further inform and improve practice with this age group.

The University of Chester is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

This programme offers a unique professional route for students who hold an unrelated (subject) first degree but are committed to working with young children. It is innovative in the way in which it considers the child's needs, that of the family and community and in so doing, supports the drive to enable children to reach their full potential.


Back - to previous page  Print - launches the print options panel