Early years initial teacher training (ITT): a guide for providers

Find out how you can get involved in recruiting and training early years teachers.


This information is for early years initial teacher training (ITT) providers. If you’re interested in applying for early years ITT, visit the Get into Teaching website. Advice for employers can be found in the early years initial teacher training: a guide for employers.

Early years ITT leads to the award of early years teacher status (EYTS).

Training places

Requesting places for the academic year 2017 to 2018

Request an allocation of places now using the Early years ITT 2017 to 2018 request template (MS Word Document, 49.6KB) . Please read the Requesting early years initial teacher training places 2017 to 2018 guidance (PDF, 203KB, 8 pages) before requesting your places.

If you’re an accredited ITT provider with a good or outstanding Ofsted rating, you’re already approved to provide the full range of ITT courses, which includes early years ITT.

A list of early years initial teacher training providers and School Direct (Early Years) lead organisations with training places for September 2016 is available.

Recruiting trainees

Once we’ve confirmed your allocation of places, you can start recruiting candidates. Candidates will submit applications directly to you, and you will be responsible for managing this process.

Becoming an accredited training provider

To offer early years ITT, you must be accredited to run at least 1 programme leading to the award of qualified teacher status (QTS). You must not hold a grade 3 or 4 rating from Ofsted.

Find out more about becoming an accredited provider and the accreditation withdrawal process: initial teacher training.

Working in partnership to provide training

If you’re not accredited to provide early years ITT training, you can work with an existing accredited provider. You must have a partnership agreement in place with your accredited provider which explains the roles and responsibilities of each partner.


You’ll need to design your training programme to enable each of your trainees to meet the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years)). They’re designed for high quality work with the birth to 5 years age range. This will include:

  • the content they must cover
  • how you structure and assess their performance

Trainee teachers must be trained to teach across the early years foundation stage (from birth to 5 years old). They must also understand how early education links beyond age 5 and into key stages 1 and 2 in school.

Your training programme will need to provide trainees with enough time in early years settings or schools to allow them to show they meet the standards.

Assuming trainees are full time, this would mean:

  • 160 days (32 weeks) for a 4 year undergraduate programme
  • 120 days (24 weeks) for a 3 year undergraduate programme or graduate (university-based) route

Placements should take place in at least 2 schools or early years settings and include at least 2 weeks in a school in key stage 1.

A shorter training programme may be suitable for some trainees, but others may need longer to meet the required standards.

For graduates on an employment-based route, the amount of time will be determined by their specific training programme.

You shouldn’t recommend any trainee for the award of EYTS until they have met all the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years).

Training routes

There are 4 routes that lead to the award of early years teacher status. Details of available funding, including bursary rates for the academic year 2016 to 2017 are in our early years initial teacher training (ITT): funding guidance.

Graduate entry (full-time)

We fund this route and training is typically over a 1 year period. Some trainees may be eligible for a bursary.

This route also includes School Direct (Early Years). Schools and nurseries can work in partnership with accredited ITT providers.

School Direct (Early Years) places are allocated to lead organisations (schools and nurseries). This delivery method enables lead organisations to:

  • influence how early years teachers are trained
  • recruit trainees that best meet their partnerships’ needs
  • offer trainees work after completing their training within the group of schools/nurseries they trained in
  • decide which accredited ITT provider to work with under a partnership agreement

Find the School Direct (Early Years) lead organisations.

Graduate employment based (part-time)

This is for graduates working in an early years setting who require training and further experience to meet the requirements of the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). We provide funding for training costs and additional funding is also available to contribute towards employers’ costs.

Undergraduate entry (full-time)

This is for those who wish to undertake a level 6 degree in an early childhood related subject along with early years teacher training. It is typically a full time 3 or 4 year route for those entering the profession.

Funding for course fees may be accessed by eligible trainees through tuition fee loans from Student Finance England (SFE).

Assessment only

This is for graduates with experience of working with children from birth to 5 years old who can meet the requirements of the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) without further training. An example of this is an early years teacher from overseas. Assessment typically takes place over 3 months.

We don’t fund this route; it’s self-funded.

Please see our early years initial teacher training: funding guidance for further information.

Entry requirements for candidates

You must ensure candidates:

  • have achieved GCSEs, grade C (or equivalent) in English, maths and a science subject
  • hold a first degree (Level 6) from a UK higher education institution or equivalent qualification (in the case of graduate routes)
  • have taken part in a rigorous selection process designed to assess their suitability to teach
  • have passed the professional skills tests

Qualifications in key and functional skills at level 2 are not equivalent to GCSEs in terms of content. You should look for additional evidence of knowledge and understanding for applicants with these skills certificates but without GCSEs at grade C or above in English and maths.

Applicants with a GCSE grade C or above in English language meet the requirement. You should look for further evidence of a breadth of achievement in English where applicants have achieved a GCSE grade C or above in English literature.

Inspection arrangements

Ofsted has been asked by the Secretary of State for Education to inspect the quality of early years ITT. This has further aligned the arrangements for the training leading to EYTS and QTS. From summer 2015 there has been a single inspection format. It will ensure a more streamlined approach for ITT providers who will be subject to 1 quality assurance arrangement for their ITT provision.

Quality assurance

You must ensure:

  • your management structure supports the effective operation of the training programme
  • you establish a partnership agreement setting out the roles and responsibilities of each partner, demonstrating the significant role of early years settings or schools in recruiting, selecting, training and assessing trainees
  • you monitor, evaluate and moderate all aspects of provision rigorously and show how these contribute to securing improvements in the quality of training and the assessment of trainees

Employment-based requirements

All accredited providers of employment-based early years ITT must ensure all of the following:

  • for the period of training, all applicants who are undertaking the employment-based training route must be employed in a setting offering the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
  • the salaries for trainees employed in academies, independent schools and early years settings are set at a local level by the employer
  • employers must not expect trainees to carry out more than 90% of the duties normally required of a full-time early years teacher

Find out more

More guidance on programme requirements can be found in the early years ITT requirements: supporting advice document.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please use our contact us form.