University of Chester

Programme Specification
Early Years Practice FDA
2016 - 2017

Foundation Arts Degree

Early Years Practice

Early Years Practice

University of Chester

Tameside College and West Cheshire College

Tameside College, Beaufort Road Centre, Ashton-Under-Lyne

West Cheshire College, Ellesmere Port Campus

Undergraduate Modular Programme


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

3 years

5 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes

Early Years Sector-endorsed Foundation Degree

Foundation Degree Subject Benchmark Statements (QAA 2004).

Faculty of Education and Children's Services, FdA Module Assessment Board

Tuesday 27th January 2015

To prepare students to make a positive contribution to their own professional development and the wider Children's workforce;

To develop the knowledge, understanding and critical thinking necessary for high quality, professional, anti-discriminatory and inclusive practice in early years settings;

To develop students' ability to understand and apply the principles of evidence-based practice;

To develop students as reflective practitioners, with an understanding of the need for and a commitment to lifelong learning;

To develop an appropriate knowledge and understanding of holistic, play-based learning and the current regulations and guidance;

To develop the professional communication skills necessary for the shared responsibility for the care and development of babies and children and the maintenance of high professional values;

To develop the key skills expected of a foundation degree graduate and to apply these to professional practice and on-going personal development.

(i) knowledge and critical understanding of the principles of Early Years care, learning and development, including those relating to anti-discriminatory practice and equality of opportunity; (evidenced throughout the programme)

(ii) demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the regulatory and legislative framework for early years provision; (evidenced specifically through ED4116 and ED5512)

(iii) significant current and emerging theories and principles relating to children's learning and development, the value of play and methods of assessment; (evidenced throughout but specifically ED4112 and ED4116)

(iv) how to plan, implement and evaluate the curriculum and pedagogy for children, including those with special educational needs; (evidenced specifically through ED5105 and ED5506)

(v) roles, norms and cultural aspects relating to the family and the role of other adults in child development and learning; (evidenced specifically through ED4113)

(vi) ability to apply underlying concepts and principles of working with children and families in early years to their own employment context; (evidenced throughout the programme - all assessments)

(vii) relationships between adult and child; adult and other professionals; Early Years worker and management and between organisation and organisation; (evidenced throughout the programme)

viii) knowledge of the main methods of enquiry in the field of Early Years and an understanding of the limits of their knowledge and how this influences analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge; (evidenced throughout the programme)

(i) communicate ideas, principles and theories, arguments and analysis effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences, using written, visual, verbal and ICT media, with a sense of audience. (evidenced throughout the programme - assessments)

(ii) demonstrate appropriate critical thinking skills e.g. identify and summarise main points in an argument, develop an argument drawing upon evidence and literature, analyse and synthesise research, theories and ideas, examining issues from a range of professional perspectives and produce evaluative responses; (evidenced throughout the programme - all assessments)

(iii) use a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information relating to their work situation, and to propose solutions to problems arising in their work setting; (evidenced throughout the programme - specifically ED4501 and ED5504)

(iv) reflect and evaluate self, including the potential effect of personal attitudes, values and behaviours on work with children, parents, colleagues and other professionals; (evidenced throughout the programme - specifically ED4113)

(i) demonstrate the experience, knowledge and skills that underpin good Early Years practice, both evidence based and reflective; (evidenced throughout the programme)

(ii) carry out effectively the work roles expected of an early years professional in an Early Years setting; (evidenced specifically through ED4112, ED4114, ED4116 and ED5504)

(iii) communicate effectively with children, their families and other professionals; (evidenced throughout the programme - specifically ED4113)

(iv) design, implement, monitor and assess specific activities which support the individual development and learning of children; (evidenced specifically through ED4112 and ED4116)

(v) demonstrate a thorough understanding of difference and diversity, recognising individual needs as well as developing tolerance and understanding of others; (evidenced specifically through ED5105)

(vi) demonstrate qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility e.g. to manage and organise their own time, resources, records and information to support decision making. (evidenced specifically through ED4501 and ED5504)

Upon completion of the Foundation Degree, students will be able to:

(i) communicate ideas effectively in speech and writing;

(ii) use and develop their own mathematical and scientific skills to ensure the effective delivery of these skills to young children;

(iii) use ICT to support their own development and the learning of children;

(iv) improve their own performance through critical self-reflection, the implementation of evidence-based practice, and continual professional development activities;

(v) work within a team to complete an agreed task;

(iv) solve problems that may occur whilst carrying out the role of an early years professional within an Early Years setting.

The outcomes and structure of this programme are centred on the development of the knowledge, understanding and skills that will support high level professional practice in an Early Years setting. It is currently guided by the "Statement of Requirement" for Early Years Sector-Endorsed Foundation Degrees (DfES 2001) and the "Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children's Workforce (HM Government 2005).

The on-campus activities acknowledge the considerable experience the learners are bringing with them and recognise the learning that will take place in the workplace environment. As all students will be working in an early years setting, module assessments have been devised to be work-based.

Each level of the programme includes modules entitled ‘Practice based enquiry' (ED4501 and ED5504) which guide the students to develop their own personal skills as an early years professional.

Students will normally attend once a week during term time (one afternoon per week) thus ensuring as little time as possible is required by the employer to release them from their work. The programme will be delivered over a period of three academic years, allowing sufficient time in the students' busy work and family schedules to complete the required credits, whilst not making the programme so long that it no longer becomes an attractive proposition.

Along with the taught modular sessions on campus there will be opportunities at the end of every module to meet with their tutors to discuss work-related issues.

This Foundation Arts Degree in Early Years Practice is located at levels 4 & 5 (1 and 2 HE) in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (QAA, 2001).

Students who have successfully completed a programme at intermediate level will have ‘developed a sound understanding of the principles in their field of study, and will have learned to apply those principles more widely. Through this, they will have learned to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems.' Their studies will have had ‘a vocational orientation, enabling them to perform effectively in their chosen field" and they will have ‘the qualities necessary for employment in situations requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making'. (QAA. 2001:1)


Level-related criteria

Level 4

An emphasis on "knowing about" key ideas in Early Years Care and Education; on acknowledging sources; on accuracy; on rational argument and the development of a questioning attitude.

Securely developed study skills required to study at HE level e.g. library and internet research skills, computer literacy, ability to articulate accurately and give presentations.

The learning is predominantly tutor designed and guided with scope for individual and group initiatives within this framework. The assignment framework allows for considerable individual initiative as assessments are linked to work practice in each module.


Level 5

At this level the students will be expected to demonstrate a critical approach to knowledge and evidence, to seek links between different theories on how children learn best and begin to develop mastery of complex skills and concepts to do with Early Years care, learning and development.

They will also be reflecting and evaluating their own practice in the workplace and making decisions about their own developmental needs, in order to carry out the role of an early years professional in the workplace. There is increasing learner direction in the particular focus of the work carried out.


120 credits at Level 4 (1) entitle the student to a Certificate of Higher Education

240 credits, including 120 at Level 5 (2), entitle the student to a Foundation Arts Degree

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
ED4112 4 Understanding the Development of the Child 20 Comp
ED4113 4 Fostering Positive Relationships 20 Comp
ED4114 4 Child Protection and Safeguarding 20 Comp
ED4116 4 The Importance of Play in the Early Years 20 Comp
ED4501 4 Practice-based Enquiry 1 20 Comp
ED4502 4 Personal and Collaborative Learning 20 N/A
ED4503 4 Promoting Positive Relationships 20 Comp
ED4504 4 Safeguarding and Protection 20 N/A
ED4515 4 The Developing Child 20 N/A
ED4516 4 Play in the Early Years Foundation Stage 20 N/A
ED5105 5 Inclusive Practice and Diversity 20 Comp
ED5106 5 The Health and Well-being of Children and Young People 20 Comp
ED5501 5 Inclusive Practice 20 N/A
ED5503 5 Children and Young People's Health and Well-being 20 N/A
ED5504 5 Practice Based Enquiry 2 20 Comp
ED5506 5 Special Educational Needs and Disability 20 Comp
ED5512 5 Enabling Environments 20 Comp
ED5516 5 Communication and Early Years Practice 20 Comp

For a Foundation Degree students will be required to achieve:

120 credits at level 4 and

120 credits at level 5.


A core feature of the degree is that it will offer accreditation to professional practice not previously available and will offer access to HE for students who may not normally be able to access university provision. A combination of academic qualifications, experience and motivation will be carefully considered when making admissions judgements.

This degree includes a specialist vocational component, underpinned by broad based academic learning. Successful applicants would normally:

  • hold an NQF level 3 qualification in Early Years or related subject
  • have English and Maths at GCSE (or equivalent) grade C or above (candidates without this qualification will be required to undertake an initial assessment of their written English)
  • a minimum of two years experience in an early years setting
  • meet the criteria for a ‘fit person' to work with young children
  • be over 18 years of age


Normally, the student will be required to spend the following amount of time per week in an early years setting:

  • a minimum of 6 hours a week at level 1
  • a minimum of 8 hours a week at level 2

in a supervisory role in order to complete the work-related and work-based assignments. Confirmation from the setting verifying this, and agreeing to support the student in the work-based requirements of the programme, will be required.

All people working in an early years setting must obtain the necessary clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). On enrolment the DBS reference number will be asked for and recorded within each student's file.

Accreditation for prior learning will be considered in line with the current policy at the University of Chester.  Each candidate would be required to submit evidence of the outcomes of their previous learning, whether experiential or certified.

Typical applicant backgrounds or entry profiles:

  • working within an early years setting at a supervisory level e.g. room supervisor or manager of a full day care nursery, supervisor of a pre-school, teaching assistant in a reception class, childminder
  • in possession of an early years vocational qualification at NQF level 3
  • strongly motivated to achieve early years professional status.

Approach to Admissions

Students wishing to undertake this part-time course apply directly to the relevant institution. Applications are filtered through the admission systems. After an initial screening, suitable applicants are invited to an information session and individual interview session to ascertain the extent of their experience and their suitability to benefit from this programme. This ensures that applicants with atypical backgrounds for an HE programme are considered. As work-based learning is an integral part of the programme, discussions regarding work based learning take place on entry together with an assessment of the appropriateness of any current work experience.

Applicants are asked to supply a reference which confirms that they have had a minimum of two years experience supporting or managing provision for children and / or young people. As part of the application process applicants may be required to provide a written statement of no more than 500 words, which will be used to make an initial assessment of their basic skills and any learning support needs. The applicants’ experience, aspirations, motivation, work history, maturity and commitment will be discussed at interview and used, along with the initial assessment, to inform the guidance given, and ultimately whether a place on the programme is to be offered.

There are currently no Benchmark Statements for programmes based on the practice of Early Years provision. However, in designing this programme, the team have taken into account the Foundation Degree qualification benchmark statements (QAA 2004) along with the subject specific requirements from the Early Years Sector-Endorsed Foundation Degree Statement of Requirement (DfES 2001) and the more recently published Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children's Workforce (HM Gov. Nov. 2005).

The programme adheres to the central University Learning and Teaching Strategy. From this, the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services have developed a local level response in the form of the Faculty Learning, Teaching, Assessment Improvement and Development Plan. This commits to pedagogical principles which include:     

  • Promoting professional engagement and reflective practice;      
  • Encouraging independent and autonomous learning;         
  • Supporting continuing professional development;     
  • Valuing students' professional experience and prior learning;        
  • Supporting diversity and personalised learning;       
  • Encouraging dynamic and participative learning;
  • Promoting collaborative learning;
  • Encouraging Internet and Web-based approaches;         
  • Supporting reflective and Practitioner enquiry.

For further details, please access:

The programme includes a range of approaches to learning and teaching:

  • University-based Modules- These modules are held at the University in technology rich environments. A range of methodologies are employed which take account of best practice and maximise active learning, sensitive to the learning styles and needs of students. These methodologies include lectures, seminars, group work, directed tasks, independent research and individual, group tutorials and blended learning.
  • Independent Learning -Independent Learning is a philosophy of education which students are encouraged to adopt. It includes the opportunity to work with a supervising tutor who offers support as students work towards completing assessment tasks but is fundamentally a more over-arching concept about an autonomous approach to work.
  • Electronic Support Materials - The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is an essential feature of the Programme. Each module has a dedicated module site where key information about the module and a range of materials and interactive elements to support learning and assessment, is available.
  • Electronic Tutorial Support – Students are able to contact their module tutor or module supervisor by email whenever they wish. Tutors will endeavour to respond to student queries within 3-5 days but often sooner. Tutorial support includes face-to-face tutorial support meetings and the opportunity for students to engage with online tutorial support. Individual tutorials can also be offered using a range of technologies such as Skype and Facetime.  This is an important feature of the Programme as it enables students who may not live in close proximity to the University to access tutorial support remotely.

The programme strives to maintain a diverse assessment palette and rigorous, consistent assessment practices which aims to enable students to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and understanding in a variety of ways.


All modules have a handbook that complies with University and Faculty Guidelines. All handbooks are available to students on the dedicated module space on Moodle (The University's VLE).

The module handbook includes:       

  • Module aims and learning outcomes;       
  • Outline content;       
  • Assessment method;       
  • Procedures for submission of work;        
  • Recommended reading;
  • Appropriate grading criteria;
  • Links to relevant documentation and University Policy eg. The Diversity and Equality Policy, The Disability, Gender and Race Equality Scheme, guidance on regulations governing the assessment of students.


All assessed work is graded according to a percentage scale 0-100 using the University's grading criteria linked to the appropriate QAA requirements All marking procedures comply with the central University Assessment Policies. Feedback to students is available electronically using the Turnitin and Grademark systems. Feedback on the work is intended to identify strengths and points of development. Assignments are not pre-marked.  Students may receive formative, verbal feedback on plans or on a specified amount of work identified by the tutor.

Assessment criteria are communicated to students through Programme and Module handbooks with specific assignment guidance explaining the important features of each assignment.




Graduates will be committed to promoting the learning and wellbeing of children in the Early Years Foundation Stage. This Foundation Degree is an important pathway, which will help to raise standards in Early Years Settings and give individuals the recognition they deserve. The successful graduates will be ideally placed to lead and manage as an early years professional in a range of settings. See section 26 for the personal and professional characteristics of graduates on completion of this programme.

The institutions are committed to diversity and equality and are specialist vocational providers of education and skills training. They are inclusive institutions, which put the needs of each individual learner at the heart of their mission. The institutions have established cultures where learners are encouraged to disclose their disabilities and differences and where equality and diversity are routinely celebrated. All marketing is designed to be free from any form of discrimination and to encourage students from all backgrounds to contact us.

In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed. All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices

All student needs are identified during initial assessment, induction and enrolment and the appropriate support is provided through the Learning Support teams.



This qualification is also a route for those with the potential and desire to progress to a full honours degree and then, onto post-graduate study to enable students to teach.

The University of Chester offers part-time Level 6 study to enable Foundation Degree graduates to achieve full honours. Direct entry to level 6 of the Early Childhood Studies programme (on a part-time basis) or the BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Professional Studies programme within the Faculty of Education and Children's Services facilitates this progression.

The University of Chester provides training towards Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS). This is offered either through one of the extended professional development pathways which caters for students who are in work in the private, voluntary or independent daycare sector, or through postgraduate study, via the Postgraduate Certificate in Early Years Practice programme. The PG Certificate in Early Years Practice with EYTS includes 60 academic credits at level 7 (M level). EYTS is a professional status introduced in January 2007 for graduates who are effective practitioners with children from birth to age five years and who also lead and support others in the delivery of the Early Years Foundation Stage in the private, voluntary and independent daycare sector. It is a recognition of the importance of the early years and the need for highly qualified staff to work in this field.

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