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

Training opportunities and funding for your graduate employees to gain early years teacher status.


This information is for early years employers. If you’re interested in applying for early years ITT, visit the Get into Teaching website, or contact one of our early years accredited ITT providers.

Providing children with good quality education and care in their earliest years can help them succeed at school and later in life. Early years teachers are specialists in early childhood development, trained to deliver the early years foundation stage for children from birth to five.

To become an early years teacher a trainee has to complete an early years ITT course. This training provides opportunities to gain practical skills and underpinning theoretical knowledge to demonstrate the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). Successful completion of the training leads to the award of early years teacher status.

Funding and training

Funding is available to train graduates already employed in an early years setting. Training providers receive the funding and retain the course fee. The remaining funding is given to you to cover some of your costs in supporting the trainee employed by you to complete their course. For instance, supply costs or salary enhancement.

Read the early years initial teacher training funding guide and the routes into early years ITT for further information.

How your employee can apply

If you have a graduate employed in your early years setting, encourage them to apply. They can apply directly to an early years ITT provider offering the graduate employment based route for September 2017.


The following research reports show that the quality of provision is higher when early years practice is led by specially trained graduates:

  • Evaluation of the graduate leader fund: final report. This research found settings which gained a graduate leader with early years professional status (the predecessor of early years teacher status) made significant improvements in quality for preschool children (aged 30 months to 5 years) as compared with settings which did not. Improvements were most evident where those with early years professional status worked directly in a room with children and led the practice.
  • Longitudinal Study of Early Years Professional Status: an exploration of progress, leadership and impact final report. This research found that early years professional status had created professionals who are confident about taking on a leadership role in settings. Eighty per cent of early years professionals felt that gaining early years professional status had increased their ability to carry out improvements in their settings.

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Published 26 March 2015
Last updated 18 December 2015 + show all updates
  1. The link to the list of early years accredited ITT providers has been added.
  2. First published.