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 training providers. If you are interested in applying for early years initial teacher training (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 2016 to 2017

The opportunity to request places for 2016 to 2017 has now closed.

Allocation of places will be confirmed by early December 2015.

Information on School Direct (early years) is available.

Recruiting trainees

Once we have 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.

2015 places

View a list of early years ITT providers with training places for September 2015.

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 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 are 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 will need to design your training programme to meet the needs of your trainees. This will include:

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

All trainee teachers will need to meet the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). They are designed for high quality work with the birth to 5 years age range.

You should not recommend the award of EYTS until they have met all the standards. A shorter training programme may be suitable for some trainees, but others may need longer to meet the standards.

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.

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

Training routes

There are 4 routes that lead to the award of early years teacher status.

Graduate entry (full-time)

We fund this route and training is typically over a 1 year period. Trainees with high academic achievement 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 lead organisations with School Direct (Early Years) places available for September 2015.

Graduate employment based (part-time)

This is for graduates 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 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 can 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.

This is a self-funded route.

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

Entry requirements for candidates

You must ensure candidates:

  • have achieved a GCSE 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 will further align the arrangements for the training leading to EYTS and QTS. From summer 2015 there will be a single inspection format. This will ensure a more consistent approach for your teacher training. You will only be subject to one quality inspection.

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

If you are offering employment-based early years ITT, trainees working at maintained schools must be:

  • employed as unqualified teachers
  • paid in accordance with at least point 1 of the unqualified teacher pay scale for the period of their training

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.