Become an early years teacher

As an early years teacher, you can play an essential role in children’s development between birth and the age of five, providing high-quality early education. By training to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage, you’ll learn how to use your knowledge and skills to ensure all children have access to high standards of learning. 

Why train to be an early years teacher?

By becoming an early years teacher, you’ll make a lasting, positive impact on children’s well-being and development, opening young children’s minds to new concepts and ideas on a daily basis.

Research demonstrates that the quality of early education and childcare provision is higher when practice is led by specially trained early years graduate teachers. This makes it vital that high-calibre candidates train as early years teachers.

The early years are a critical stage. We know that:

  • 94% of children who achieve a good level of development at age five go on to achieve the expected levels for reading at key stage 1, and they are five times more likely to achieve the highest level
  • pupils who start off in the bottom 20% of attainment at age five are six times more likely to be in the bottom 20% at key stage 1 compared to their peers

You can find out more about early years teacher training at one of our early years events; alternatively, read on for more information about eligibility and funding.

Make a difference for young children – a career in early years teaching is very rewarding

How to become an early years teacher

As with primary level, you need a degree and at least a GCSE C grade (or equivalent) in English, maths and science to train as an early years teacher. You’ll also need to pass the professional skills tests in numeracy and literacy.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll then need to complete your early years initial teacher training (ITT) and demonstrate that you’ve met the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). These operate in parallel with the current Teachers’ Standards, and have been designed specifically for early years teachers to ensure that your training and assessment is appropriate for children from birth to age five.

There are four training routes available, with a School Direct option for graduate entry – all options lead to early years teacher status (EYTS) upon successful completion:

  • graduate entry – typically a year of full-time study, with a £7,000 grant to cover course fees – there are also bursaries of up to £5,000 for graduates with a first class degree, £4,000 for graduates with a 2:1, and £2,000 for graduates with a 2:2 
  • School Direct (Early Years) graduate entry – enables you to 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 £7,000. The remaining £7,000 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 for those studying for a degree in an early childhood-related subject, with tuition fee loans available from Student Finance England (SFE)
  • Assessment Only – taking place over three months, this self-funded route is ideal for graduates with experience of working with children from birth to age five, who meet the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) with no need for further training, for example an early years teacher from overseas

If you want to apply for an early years ITT place starting in September 2017, please contact one of our training providers. For more details on how to become an early years teacher, complete the early years registration form


You can get a bursary of up to


to train as an early years teacher

Find out why Roberto decided to switch from a career in law to become an early years teacher. Transcript (PDF, 33KB)

My decision to pursue early years teacher status has been by far the best career step I have ever taken.

William Vanderpuye, early years teacher

Upcoming events

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Train to Teach Liverpool John Moores University

01 April 2017 10:00

This event in Liverpool will give you the chance to ask experts about your teacher training options and what it’s like to teach.


Train to Teach Manchester Metropolitan University

08 April 2017 10:00

This event in Manchester will give you the chance to ask experts about your teacher training options and what it’s like to teach.


Train to Teach University of Brighton

09 May 2017 16:30

This event in Brighton will give you the chance to ask experts about your teacher training options and what it’s like to teach.


Application workshop Exeter

28 March 2017 17:30

Whether you’re just getting started on your application, or are close to submitting it, you will find lots of help and support at our application workshops.