University of Chester

Programme Specification
Early Years Practice FDA
2014 - 2015

Foundation Arts Degree

Early Years Practice

Early Years Practice

University of Chester

University of Chester

West Cheshire College

Tameside College

Warrington Campus

West Cheshire College, Handbridge Campus, Chester.

Tameside College



Residential and Open,

6 semesters

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).

CWDC Sure Start. [now located within The National College for Teaching and Leadership ]

Faculty of Education FdA Subject Assessment Board

Thursday 1st May 2008

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.

Knowledge and Understanding
(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 ED4516 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 ED4515 and ED4516 )

(iv) how to plan, implement and evaluate the curriculum and pedagogy for children, including those with special educational needs; (evidenced specifically through ED 5505)

(v) roles, norms and cultural aspects relating to the family and the role of other adults in child development and learning; (evidenced specifically through ED4503)

(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)

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

(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 ED4502)

Practical Skills

(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 ED4503, ED4504 and ED5504)

(iii) communicate effectively with children, their families and other professionals; (evidenced throughout the programme - specifically ED4503)

(iv) design, implement, monitor and assess specific activities which support the individual development and learning of children; (evidenced specifically through ED4515 and ED4516)

(v) demonstrate a thorough understanding of difference and diversity, recognising individual needs as well as developing tolerance and understanding of others; (evidenced specifically through ED5501)

(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 ED4502 and ED5504)

Key Skills
Application of Number
Information Literacy and Technology
Improving own learning and performance
Working with others
Problem solving

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.

(Key skills evidenced throughout the programme)
Transferable Professional Skills

i) undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competences that will enable them to assume significant responsibility within organisations; (evidenced throughout the programme - specifically ED4501, ED4502 and ED5504).

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 programme structure has also been designed to embrace the vocational and work based principles of Foundation Degrees (QAA 2002) and Benchmark Statements(QAA 2004).

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.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
ED4501 4 Practice-based Enquiry 1 20 Comp
ED4502 4 Personal and Collaborative Learning 20 Comp
ED4503 4 Promoting Positive Relationships 20 Comp
ED4504 4 Safeguarding and Protection 20 Comp
ED4515 4 The Developing Child 20 Comp
ED4516 4 Play in the Early Years Foundation Stage 20 Comp
ED5501 5 Inclusive Practice 20 Comp
ED5503 5 Children and Young People's Health and Well-being 20 Comp
ED5504 5 Practice Based Enquiry 2 20 Comp
ED5505 5 Special Needs and Inclusion 20 Comp
ED5512 5 Enabling Environments 20 Comp
ED5516 5 Communication and Early Years Practice 20 Comp

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

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 Baring 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. This currently permits a maximum accreditation of 50% of the award, but is subject to change. 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 University. 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).

Students will benefit from a variety of learning and teaching strategies chosen to best suit individual needs and desired outcomes. Methods employed in each module will identify and analyse the theoretical perspectives and current thinking based on research relevant to children's care, learning and development. The underpinning knowledge will be delivered through a mix of lectures, presentations, group work activities, case study, guided reflection and independent study, and, as is important with a Foundation Degree, important learning will take place for each module, in the practice setting. The theoretical perspectives explored will enable students to reflect upon and share their experience at work and to relate this to current thinking. As students on this programme are already working in an Early Years setting, they will be given differentiated tasks and assessments in order for them to investigate in depth those issues that relate specifically to their work. However the essential features of the needs of both birth to two and three to five will be introduced and analysed through whole-class activity as an understanding of the full age range from 0 - 5 years of the EYFS is essential, There will be subsequent opportunity for students to complete further work that is age/stage specific and linked to their practice. The teaching approach will be largely activity based and participatory in nature with students expected to take a full and responsible part. Prior reading will be specified as is necessary.

Students' studies will be supported by learning materials which will be available in a variety of inclusive formats including web based materials placed in module folders on Moodle.

Throughout the programme students will be encouraged to be critically reflective; to listen carefully to the views of others; to question values and opinions; to investigate evidence and to draw their own informed conclusions. They will be encouraged to develop as independent learners and to develop the skills of collaborative and negotiated learning. The development of professional standards is a pre-requisite of this programme and is integral to all modules with students being encouraged to reflect on and evaluate their own experience of early years practice.

In common with other programmes this provision will have its own intranet site on Moodle. This will hold programme advice and guidance and module specific learning material provided by the programme team. This site is externally accessible to all registered students. Students will also be encouraged to keep an up to date ePortfolio.

The development of autonomy and a self-improving attitude is necessary for the progression to further study and the effective deployment of their professional role. During this programme students will be introduced to critically reflective strategies for personal/professional enhancement which may be further developed at Honours level.


Learner Support

Each student is assigned to a Personal Tutor who contributes to the programme and has oversight of the student's progress. Tutorials with the module tutor and regular termly meetings with the personal tutor will provide guidance for successful completion of the modules. This academic/pastoral relationship lasts for the duration of the programme. Students who are assessed at the outset as requiring additional support for specific needs will be referred to Learning Support, or at any subsequent time during the course, if the learner and tutor feel this is appropriate.


Workplace Support

The work-based nature of this programme, specifically the critical reflection of work practice and the completion of assignments linking current ideas and theories to the student's work practice, means that the support of a current practising professional is vital for the students. At present, the majority of nurseries and pre-schools in the local area do not have staff qualified to graduate level who could fulfil this mentoring role. This role will therefore be covered, partly by module tutors and professional mentors.

Assessment will take a variety of forms particularly appropriate to this work- based programme e.g. reflective portfolio, reflective essay, presentation, analysis of work-place scenario and case study. The form of assessment chosen for each module is the most appropriate to enable students to demonstrate their achievement of stated module learning outcomes. The nature of the particular assessment tasks will recognise and encourage the synergy of work-based learning and academic study which is a distinctive feature of the Foundation Degree such that 'technical and work specific skills' are 'underpinned by rigorous and broad-based academic learning'.

Where appropriate assessment tasks will model and require the critical analysis of professional practice, e.g. the use of folio and case study material. All assessment is undertaken in accordance with the University of Chester's regulations and requirements. In general terms, students are assessed on their ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding, in breadth and in depth, of the subject matter studied; discuss, interpret and critically analyse a range of literature; utilise effectively the transferable communication and rhetorical skills of speaking, listening, reading, writing and arguing; conducting independent and collaborative research, using relevant skills and methods (including ICT where appropriate). The assessment methods used in each module correlate with the learning outcomes for that module. Where feasible, assessment will be used to inform tutor planning to ensure that subsequent teaching addresses the identified needs of the students. Students are clearly informed about the assessment requirements of each element of their programme. The formal assessment requirements are described in each module descriptor. As well as generic assessment criteria that relate to the level of performance, students will be provided with assignment specific criteria that relate to the learning outcomes for that module in the module handbook.

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 West Cheshire College is a specialist vocational provider 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.

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 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 Supporting Learning with Children and Young People (Level 6 Part-time Top Up Programme) within the Faculty of Education and Children's Services facilitates this progression.

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