University of Chester

Programme Specification
Early Years Practice PGCert
2014 - 2015

Postgraduate Certificate

Early Years Practice

Early Years Practice

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester campus

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year

3 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes

National Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

The National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) awards Early Years Teacher Status


Postgraduate Certificate in Early Years Practice

Sunday 1st June 2008

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 (work with children aged 0 - 5 years) that will equip students to contribute to the provision of 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 programme is concerned to develop Postgraduate skills in addition to specific programme skills.
Knowledge and Understanding

  • The knowledge and understanding specified by theTeaching Agencyfor Standards for Early YearsTeacher Status
In additionstudents will have also achieved the following generic outcomes:
  • Critically engage with theoretical frameworks and literature
  • Harness insights into subject knowledge
  • Critically review the ways in which research methodology supports professional enquiry
  • Apply critical considerations when undertaking research
  • Make effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice

Thinking or Cognitive Skills
  • Make critical use of research evidence and the findings of inspection
  • Formulate valid conclusions that link theory to practice
  • Think independently about essential issues, concepts and ideas

Practical Skills

  • Refine the kinaesthetic skills required for professional practice with young children aged 0 - 5 years

Key Skills
The knowledge and understanding specified by theTeaching Agencyfor Standards for Early YearsTeacher Status describe Standards for: knowledge and understanding; effective practice; relationships with children; communication and working in partnership with families and carers; teamwork and collaboration; professional development.
In additionthe student will have also achieved the following generic key skill outcomes:
  • Communication
  1. Writing to academic standards required at Masters level
  2. Engage in meaningful debate and critical discussion
  3. Read critically
  4. Synthesise written and oral information
  5. Maintain a learning journal
  • Application of Number
  1. Select and use appropriate research methodology, methods and applications for handling data
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  1. Use the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) provided by the University of Chester
  2. Use electronic research skills
  3. Access data bases for research and information
  4. Use the University's ePortfolio to maintain a professional learning journal
  • Improving own learning and performance
  1. Critically reflect on professional practice
  2. Develop new pedagogical and leadership skills
  3. Use initiative and manage own learning
  4. Make independent use of supervision
  • Working with others
  1. Engage in group presentations and disseminations
  2. Work with professional colleagues to share ideas, research and good practice
  • Problem solving
  1. Generate and apply new knowledge
  2. Analyse complex concepts

Transferable Professional Skills
  1. Curriculum innovation
  2. Leadership
  3. Research
  4. Decision making

The qualification offered is in line with QAA (2001) The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) and is compliant with the Integrated Qualifications Framework for the Schools Workforce.

The programme is at level 7 of the FHEQ and IQF and with further study can lead to a Master of Arts degree if, at a later date, candidates elect to study further at level 7.  This programme includes three 20-credit modules carrying academic credit. In addition a further two modules are described as 0 credit/0 level for experience in the work-place to facilitate a funding requirement, i.e. placement experience linked to EYTS. Final (summative) assessment of professional practice and leadership skills against a set of Standards for Early Years Teachers can lead to the externally awarded Early Years Teacher Status, (EYTS). Only the taught modules of academic study fall in line with the regulations governing assessment of this University and which can, therefore, lead to this Postgraduate Certificate award.

In addition, therefore, to the academic provision students will undertake a number of hours in placement. Candidates will be guided towards a recommended number of hours for each placement. It is anticipated that candidates will work with children for a minimum of 90 days across the age range 0 - 5 years in an OfSTED registered setting in the private, voluntary or independent sector.  It is anticipated that this placement experience will include at least two different settings. Of greater importance is the need to experience a reasonable balance of experience across the 0 - 5 age range: with babies (0 - 20 month age range), toddlers (16 - 36 month range), and young children (30 - 60 months old). These age ranges match those used in the Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage (DfES, 2007). The interpretation of 'young child' is consistent with the Childcare Act 2006, which defines a child as being a 'young child' from birth until the end of August following his or her fifth birthday. To be eligible for the funding of this programme, placements must be arranged with early childhood settings in the private, voluntary or independent sector only and not maintained (schools). 


Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
ED7701 7 Professional Practice: a pedagogy and curriculum for the early years 20 N/A
ED7704 7 The 21st Century Child 20 N/A
ED7710 7 The Developing Child (0-5 Years) 20 N/A

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

The programme is open to graduates who hold a good honours degree in either a relevant first degree (or higher) or unrelated first degree (or higher). To be eligible for the funding associated with National College for Teaching and Leadership requirements for entry to the full pathway leading to EYTS candidates must hold a first degree and demonstrate a commitment to working with young children. This is determined through interview.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership specify and, therefore, it is a requirement of this programme that candidates must:

  • have GCSE grade 'C' or above (or recognised NCTL equivalent) in English, Mathematics and Science; 

  • be physically and mentally fit to work as an Early Years Teacher

  • have a current Disclosure and Barring Service Enhanced Disclosure and must not have previously been excluded from working with children

  • demonstrate the ability to read effectively and communicate clearly and accurately in spoken and written standard English

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

  • the quality of their written application, in particular their reasons for applying for the training
  • any evidence of commitment to working with young children

A candidate 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 candidate at interview. A review of the candidate's preparation will be a feature of an early tutorial designed to discuss the candidate's personalised learning plan.

There are no QAA benchmark statements for postgraduate study in Early Years Practice or Early Childhood. The programme, however, operates within the parameters set by the National College for Teaching and Leadership for Standards for Early Years Teacher Status

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.

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; and
  • 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; and
  • 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.


Assessment of modules that have credit and lead to a Postgraduate Certificate in this programme adheres to the Assessment Policy of the Faculty of Education and Children's Services and to the University's policy for the assessment of students with disabilities or special circumstances.

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.

Matrix mapping formative and summative assessment methods across modules

  • [F] denotes formative assessment
  • [S] denotes summative assessment

  ED7701ED7704  ED7710
 Critical analysis       S F
 Critical evaluation and reflection       F  
 Developmental review       F  
 Essay        S
 Portfolio       S  
 Reflective Log / Sketchbook        F    
 Setting based project       F  

General principles

  • Work will be submitted electronically via moodle (the University of Chester's VLE)
  • Marks and detailed feedback will be returned to the student within four weeks of submission
  • Extensions or deferrals can be granted if the student produces documentary evidence of mitigating circumstances in support of their request
  • Appeals against assessment decisions can be logged in accordance with the University's academic appeals regulations.


  • All modules have a handbook
  • All handbooks are available to the student in hard copy and are posted into a dedicated module space on moodle (the University's VLE)

The module handbooks includes information on:

  • module aims and learning outcomes
  • outline content
  • assessment method which includes weighting
  • dates and procedure for electronic submission of work
  • recommended reading session by session
  • 'M' level assessment criteria
  • information about academic malpractice, word length and late submission
  • hyperlinks to policies/regulations for late submission, extensions and deferments and appeals against assessment decisions


All assessed work contributing towards the academic award is graded according to a percentage scale 0 - 100% using the University's 'M' level grading criteria (as appropriate) linked to the QAA requirements for level 'M'.

Feedback to students is normally word processed using a standard pro-forma and returned electronically to the student. Feedback is given against the module learning outcomes and the relevant level criteria. Areas for improvement and development are presented as targets. Feedback on the work is intended to identify strengths and points of development.


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.


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.

It is important not to lose sight of the main reason for this programme: to contribute to ensuring that all children have access to quality provision. Fundamental to this is the new Early Years Teacher: a highly skilled, well trained, creative, committed, enthusiastic, and energetic new leader who will become a 'change agent' to raise the quality of provision and improve outcomes for children.

This programme has some particular characteristics that are in many ways innovative. It offes a unique professional route in that it is open to candidates who hold an unrelated (subject) first degree. It provides a new Postgraduate route to a new professional status - the first ever for those who work with children under 5 years of age. It is innovative in the way in which it considers the whole child's needs, that of the family and community and in so doing it meets the needs of a (national) change agenda.

The final three months of the programme constitute a final assessment period. In addition to submitting any academic work for assessment the candidate will also be entering a phase associated with the full pathway to EYTS that is commonly referred to as the 'Validation' period. The structure of this is determined nationally by the NCTL to provide essential preparatory sessions and placement experience leading to final (summative) assessment of the candidate's ability to meet the Standards for Early Years Teachers.

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