Early years initial teacher training: funding manual for academic years 2016 to 17 and 2017 to 18

Funding guidance for early years initial teacher training (ITT) providers.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This funding guide is for 2016 to 2018. For the latest guidance, see Initial Teacher Training funding.


The Department for Education (DfE) allocates and funds early years ITT places each academic year. Early years ITT leads to the award of early years teacher status (EYTS).

We provide training bursaries and training grants to attract high-quality graduates to become early years teachers.

This funding can only be used in delivering training programmes to support trainees in meeting the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). The training grant includes the costs of assessment against these standards.

Trainees and potential applicants should visit the Get Into Teaching website for information about early years ITT. Employers should visit early years ITT: a guide for employers.

Training routes

Early years ITT leads to the award of EYTS. We offer funding for 2 of the 4 EYTS training routes. We’ll pay training grants to you for trainees eligible for our funding.

Please look at our list of early years ITT training providers.

Graduate entry

This is for graduates studying full-time. Training is typically over a one-year period.

A training grant of £7,000 is available to the early years ITT provider to cover course fees.

Trainees with high academic achievement may be eligible to receive a bursary.

You will receive the:

  • training grant funding on behalf of trainees to cover course fees
  • bursaries to pass on to your trainees

Graduate employment based

This route is for graduates in paid employment in an early years setting who require training and further experience to demonstrate the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years).

Training is part-time and typically takes place over a one-year period.

Funding of £14,000 is available for this route. This will consist of:

  • £7,000 grant funding, to cover all training course fees
  • £7,000 employer incentive, this should be forwarded to your trainee’s employer

There is no set list of activities for the employer incentive. It is intended to contribute towards costs incurred by the employer in supporting and employing the trainee during their training and could include:

  • supply cover
  • salary enhancements
  • employment costs
  • National Insurance and other overheads

You cannot use early years ITT funding for sickness and maternity/paternity pay arrangements, as this is the employer’s responsibility.

You must keep clear, accurate and up-to-date records of the payments you make to employers.

Undergraduate entry

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

Funding is not available from DfE for this route. Eligible trainees can access funding through tuition fee or maintenance loans from Student Finance England.

Assessment only

This route is for graduates with at least 2-years’ experience of working with children from birth to 5 years old who can demonstrate the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) without further training. An example of this is an early years teacher from overseas who has knowledge and understanding of the early years foundation stage.

This is a self-funded route, and therefore funding is not available from DfE.

Bursary rates

Bursary rates are only available for the graduate entry route. When determining the bursary award, you should take the trainee’s highest academic qualification that aligns with a bursary amount in the table below.

Highest qualification 1st (£5,000) 2:1 (£4,000) 2:2 (£2,000) Other (Nil)
PhD X      
1st class degree X      
Medical Masters (distinction) X      
Masters   X    
2:1 honours degree   X    
2:2 honours degree     X  
3rd class honours degree       X
Aegrotat       X
Ordinary degree       X
No first degree       X

Bursary eligibility criteria

For a trainee to be eligible to receive a bursary you must ensure that from the first day of training, the trainee meets, and continues to meet the criteria. The trainee must:

  • meet all the entry requirements
  • be taking a qualifying postgraduate early years ITT course that enables a trainee to be recommended for the award of EYTS upon successful completion
  • hold a UK first degree with at least second-class honours, or equivalent
  • be notified by you, the early years ITT provider, in writing that they are eligible for early years ITT funding
  • comply with the bursary conditions you set
  • not already hold EYTS or early years professional status (EYPS)
  • not be undertaking paid early years teaching work when receiving the bursary
  • not be taking any other early years ITT or ITT programme

Funding principles

All allocated funding is based on full-time places. A trainee is defined as full-time if their full-time equivalence (FTE) is more than 0.5. Trainees with an FTE of 0.5 or less will be classified as part-time.

Trainees are funded for the number of days between the start date and the planned end date of their training (unless the trainee withdraws). This includes weekends and bank holidays. It also applies to trainees who start their training during the current academic year but are not due to complete until a later academic year.

All training costs must be met from the funding provided by DfE per trainee and additional fees cannot be charged.

Funding is ring-fenced for each individual route allocation. For example, graduate entry allocated places cannot be used to recruit graduate employment based trainees.

You may only use your allocated places for trainees who are eligible for our funding as defined in your grant offer agreement. All trainees on funded routes must have the right to study or work in the UK for at least the duration of training.

Withdrawals and deferrals

Trainees who withdraw or defer from their programme attract early years ITT funding between the start date of their training and the date of withdrawal or deferral.

You should suspend bursary payments to these trainees immediately. Eligible trainees, however, are entitled to the training bursary for each month up to, and including, the full month in which they withdrew or deferred. These trainees are only entitled to receive a bursary payment for the month they withdraw or defer if they were still on the course at the time the provider made the payment. Early years ITT providers should not make any pro rata training bursary payments to trainees.

DfE will claw back any bursary or training grant overpayments made to providers after the trainee has withdrawn or deferred, and will not reimburse you for any payments made in error. We expect you to recover any overpayments from trainees and employers.

You must ensure that you update all records in the early years ITT data management system after any withdrawals or deferrals.

Returning trainees

Returning trainees who defer and then recommence their original course, or take any advanced standing or credit to a new early years ITT course, will only be eligible to receive the remaining early years ITT funding (training grant and/or bursary), up to the value which was available in the academic year they started their original course.

A bespoke payment schedule may be agreed for the remaining early years ITT funding between the provider, trainee and employer.

Where the length of the course is increased, the bursary and training grant instalments can be amended to reflect the longer timeframe. The total amounts, however, are fixed and cannot be increased.

If a trainee leaves one early years ITT course and joins a new one with no transfer of standing or credit from their previous course, this is viewed as a separate route to EYTS. They will, therefore, be entitled to receive a new bursary and training grant, subject to the relevant eligibility criteria and rates.

If the trainee received their full bursary and/or training grant entitlement during a previous early years ITT programme, this may impact their eligibility to receive further early years ITT funding while completing a new programme. Please contact for further advice.

Funding mechanisms

DfE will distribute early years ITT funding to early years ITT providers, not employers or individuals.

The Department for Education’s grant funding agreement underpins the funding arrangements for early years ITT. This includes arrangements to recover unused funding and assurance processes. Your grant funding agreement will incorporate financial expectations.

DfE will provide the early years funding to you in 11 monthly instalments from September to July of the academic year. We will make the monthly payments through BACS via the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and you will receive payment within the first 7 working days of each month.

Recipients of grant funding will receive remittance advice from DWP containing the amount of funding to be paid and the name of the early years ITT provider. You will be able to review your payment profile on the ITT Extranet or its successor.

The first 3 payments from September to November will be based on a 50% fill rate of your early years allocation. From December to July, your funding level will change to reflect the actual number of trainees recruited.

DfE will review allocated training bursary funding that you receive and reconcile this amount with the trainee records submitted at each census point. Funding will be adjusted at these points to meet the actual amount required. Where funding received has exceeded the total amount required for actual trainees, we will recover the excess by means of invoice or by offsetting against future payments.

Evidence that the monies are being spent appropriately will be sought through an annual grant report process, ie annual grant return. Assurance could also be gained through internal processes linked to the accreditation process such as internal visits and ITT provider health checks.

Data collection and management

You are required to share data on trainee applications, recruitment and employment outcomes with us.

Recruitment data

You are required to inform us of your monthly recruitment data as outlined in your grant offer agreement. This is a live and on-going data collection. Failure to supply this data within the required timeline may affect any future allocation decisions and could lead to the withholding of grant funding.

Your monthly data should be submitted to us via the online portal.

Early years ITT trainee data

You are required to record details of all your early years ITT trainees, training programmes, and training outcomes on our early years ITT data management system.

You must keep your trainee data up to date at all times and it should accurately reflect any changes to the status of trainees, such as withdrawals and deferments.

All trainees must be registered with us and all records finalised and correct by end of the data collection periods in a given academic year. You will be asked to complete a validation declaration at this point to confirm that all entries have been checked as correct. This data is a condition of funding. We will use information to calculate the amount of funding that you are entitled to claim for the academic year.

Financial assurance and monitoring

DfE has a responsibility to ensure that public funds and assets generated from the allocation of training places are properly managed in line with the grant funding agreement held by early years ITT providers.

You will be required to satisfy us that you are operating all early years ITT funding in accordance with the terms and conditions of funding. These are set out in this funding manual and should be adhered to in conjunction with your grant funding agreement and its terms and conditions

You are ultimately responsible to us for the proper stewardship of the funds paid to you. The requirements include keeping proper accounting records and preparation of accounts, consistent with our requirements.

You must hold full records of all payments made to trainees in receipt of bursaries, including evidence of trainees’ academic qualifications achieved prior to starting early years ITT. We reserve the right to request this evidence from you at any point during the academic year, for the purpose of monitoring quality and funding assurance. This may include copies of original documentation provided by trainees, including qualification certificates.

You must hold full records of all payments made to employers of trainees in receipt of employer incentives (the trainee must be an employee of the early years business). Sole traders and business partners are not eligible for an employer incentive as they are classed as self-employed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). If the early years business is a limited company the owners and those working for the company are not classed as self-employed and can be eligible for an employer incentive.

We expect you to produce monthly management accounts and have robust monitoring arrangements in place, including producing budget reports for the governing body.

We may ask for financial information and conduct financial audits at any stage of the course by visiting your premises. In the event of any variances, particularly with regard to unclassified degrees, we reserve the right to contact you to request explanations of the variances and to seek further information. We reserve the right to withdraw your funding if you do not comply with financial reporting requirements.

All early years ITT providers will be asked to complete an annual grant return in accordance with published guidance, which has to be independently audited and countersigned by the accounting officer. We will use this information to reconcile the funding you have received with your declared expenditure taking into account the effect of withdrawn and deferred trainees.

We will publish more detailed guidance regarding the annual grant return at the end of the academic year, so that you are able to comply with the grant funding agreement requirements.

Failure to fully comply with the data collection, monitoring and assurance requirements stated in this funding manual may result in non-compliance by the early years ITT provider, which may lead to withdrawal of accreditation.

Published 26 March 2015
Last updated 18 December 2015 + show all updates
  1. The link to the list of early years ITT training providers for 2016 to 2017 has been added.

  2. First published.