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Job Photographs

  • A woman is sitting, talking to a young boy, who is standing in front of her.  She is stamping his hand with washable ink.

    The teacher is giving this little boy a merit mark. She's stamping his hand with a washable mark to show how well he has done.

  • A woman and a young girl are sitting at a small table. They are looking at a book.

    Here, a teacher is helping a girl with her reading.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk.  She is writing on some paper documents.

    When the teacher is not working directly with the children, she has to make sure all her paperwork is up to date.

  • A woman and two young boys are sitting on the floor, playing with some toys.

    Children learning through play.

  • A woman is kneeling in front of a young boy.  She is helping him to zip his coat up.  Other young children are standing around them.

    Helping children to get ready to go home.

  • A woman is sitting at the front of a classroom, talking. Children are sitting on the floor in front of her, listening.

    Here, in a group lesson, the teacher is helping the children learn to count by using a nursery rhyme.

  • Early Years Teacher

Early Years Teacher

Introduction

As an Early Years Teacher you will work with three- to five-year-olds in nurseries, or five- to seven-year-olds in primary schools. You'll use structured play with younger children and teach them skills such as telling the time and how to share.

Also known as

  • Infant Teacher
  • Nursery School Teacher
  • Teacher, Early Years
  • Early Years Practitioner

Video: - Debbie: Early Years Practitioner

Work Activities

As an Early Years Teacher you will help children to learn through structured play rather than formal lessons. This could take place indoors or outdoors. You'll plan activities to allow children to express themselves creatively, while learning about everyday things such as colours, days of the week and how to tell the time.

You can also use play to teach the basic principles of social behaviour, such as sharing or waiting for a turn. Younger children might need practical help with tasks like dressing, washing and using cutlery.

You will usually be responsible for one class of children of roughly the same age but with widely differing abilities and interests. You'll still do some teaching through structured play, but you will develop and adapt activities to help you to teach reading, writing and maths.

You'll observe children to identify their abilities, strengths and interests, using audio-visual materials and computers to stimulate interest and learning.

Discussing children's progress at parents' evenings is an important part of your role.

You will need to take into account children whose first language isn't English.

You might supervise the work of one or more teaching assistants, as well as write reports and keep pupil records. You could be responsible for buying and maintaining equipment used by the children.

They might also supervise the children on visits of educational interest.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As an Early Years Teacher, you'll need:

  • The ability to encourage, motivate and inspire the children.
  • Good listening and observation skills.
  • To maintain discipline and deal with challenging behaviour.
  • To work well under pressure.
  • Creative and practical skills, to find activities that interest and stimulate learning in the children.
  • Commitment to your own professional development.
  • Good knowledge of the subject you teach.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

As an Early Years Teacher in the state education sector, you will be paid on a scale according to your qualifications, experience and responsibilities. The highest salaries are available in inner London schools.

The pay rates (per year) given below are approximate:

  • Unqualified teachers are typically paid in the range of £17,000 to £27,000 a year
  • Newly qualified teachers are typically paid in the range of £23,000 to £29,500 a year
  • With experience this can rise to £36,500 to £48,000 a year

Teachers with management responsibility can receive a higher salary than this.

Hours of work

As an Early Years Teacher you will normally work from 8:30 am or 9 am to 3:30 pm or 4 pm, Monday to Friday. However, most teachers work extra hours - marking work, preparing lessons and going to meetings.

Where could I work?

Employers include:

  • nurseries
  • state and private primary schools
  • early excellence and children's centres.

Some teachers supplement their income by teaching privately, marking national exams or writing textbooks.

In Wales there is high demand for Welsh-medium education, so if you are a first or second language Welsh speaker, you could improve your prospects of obtaining a teaching post by training to teach through the medium of Welsh.

You could also get financial support through a Welsh-medium incentive scheme. Check with your course provider.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised by local authorities and in the local and national press, including The Guardian and The Times Educational Supplement (TES). There are also job boards, for example, eTeach.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

The routes into becoming an Early Years Teacher can seem very complicated, but you only need to pick one of the routes.

Nurseries that are maintained by the local authority are staffed by teachers with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This means you will have followed a recognised training route, specialising in early years and lower primary education. Independent nurseries don't have to employ teachers with QTS.

To achieve QTS, you must complete initial teacher education (ITE). In Wales there will be new professional standards for students starting their ITE programme from September 2019.

How do you get Qualified Teacher Status?

1. Degree Route

You can qualify as an Early Years Teacher by taking a BEd degree in early years/primary education (all lead to QTS). You can also take a BA/BSc degree in early years/primary education that is combined with QTS.

In Wales, you can train whilst employed at a maintained school through the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) but places are limited and subject to local recruitment needs.

Also in Wales, all candidates for teacher training need to have Grade B in English Language and Maths. Students training to teach through the medium of Welsh will also need a GCSE grade C or above in Welsh (first language).

2. PGCE

Another route is through a one-year full-time or two-year part-time PGCE in early years and/or primary education. To enter a PGCE course, you'll need a first (undergraduate) degree in a subject that is relevant to the primary National Curriculum. You'd need to apply through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR) website.

Primary training courses enable you to teach a wide range of subjects. However, courses usually allow you to specialise in a main subject such as maths, languages or physical education, so you have a particular strength in that area and could act as a subject leader if you are needed to.

3. Employment-based Routes

There are also employment-based routes: you'd train while working in a school. For the School Direct Training Programme, you'd pay for the course through tuition fees. There is also the School Direct Training Programme (salaried). This is open to graduates with at least three years' career experience. You'd work as an unqualified teacher, with a salary. All School Direct schemes lead to QTS and many, but not all, lead to a PGCE. The scheme usually takes one year, full-time.

In Wales, you can train whilst employed at a maintained school through the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) but places are limited and subject to local recruitment needs.

Also in Wales, all candidates for teacher training need to have Grade B/3 in English Language and Maths. Students training to teach through the medium of Welsh will also need a GCSE grade C/4 or above in Welsh (first language).

The School Direct schemes are not available in Wales.

In England, you can train in a school after your degree through school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT). These programmes are delivered by groups of neighbouring schools and colleges and often aim to meet local teaching needs. All SCITT courses lead to QTS; many lead to a PGCE.

Teach First is a charity that recruits and supports graduates to teach in challenging schools in a number of UK regions. The programme takes two years to complete and leads to QTS.

To enter teacher training courses, you'll usually need to have at least observed some early years teaching. For some courses, you'll need paid or voluntary work experience in an early years setting, or other relevant experience with children.

To achieve QTS, student teachers need to pass tests in English and maths. Welsh medium applicants will also complete a literacy test in Welsh.

Training

Once employed as a newly qualified teacher (NQTs) you must complete an induction period in order to continue teaching in maintained schools and nurseries, and non-maintained special schools in England. You can complete your induction period in a state maintained or independent nursery, as well as in a primary school.

Progression

There are opportunities for teachers to move into teacher training, leadership roles, advisory work, educational research or schools inspection.

Teachers can become heads of department, heads of year, or co-ordinators of, for example, special educational needs or careers guidance. Aspiring head teachers in state sector schools need to have the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.

Work Experience

To enter teacher training courses, you'll usually need to have at least observed some early years teaching. For some courses, you'll need paid or voluntary work experience in an early years setting, or other relevant experience with children.

Qualifications

All candidates for early years and primary teacher training need GCSEs (or recognised equivalent qualifications) at grade C/4 or above in English Language, Mathematics and a science subject.

In Wales, all candidates for teacher training need to have Grade B/6 in English Language and/or Welsh, and Maths. Primary teachers also need GCSE in science at grade C/4 or above.

Students training to teach through the medium of Welsh may also need a GCSE grade C or above in Welsh (first language).

If you don't have the GCSEs that are usually needed, you might be able to sit a pre-entry equivalency test; you should contact individual course providers to discuss your situation before making your application.

To enter a degree, you'll usually need 2/3 A levels and 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 and above. The subjects you'll need will depend on what the degree subject is.

Equivalent qualifications, such as a BTEC Level 3 qualification, the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and the Welsh Baccalaureate, might be acceptable for entry - please check college/university websites very carefully for the latest entry requirements.

To take a PGCE or to enter through a scheme such as the School Direct Training Programme, you'll need a first (undergraduate) degree in a subject that is relevant to the early years/primary National Curriculum.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

To enter teacher training courses, you'll usually need to have at least observed some early years teaching. For some courses, you'll need paid or voluntary work experience in an early years setting, or other relevant experience with children.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications you need to enter a degree course, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course. You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, although you should check this with the course provider.

If you have credits from some higher education study, you might be able to take a shortened, two-year BEd course.

For graduates, there are two-year, part-time PGCE courses.

Distance learning

The Montessori Centre International offers the Early Childhood International Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy, by distance learning, with some attendance. This course is aimed at students wishing to become teachers of the Montessori Method.

Employment-based training

Instead of going to university to do a PGCE, graduates can follow an employment-based route. This is where you train in a school. Employment-based routes include School Direct, school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) and the scheme offered by Teach First. For more information, please see 'Entry Routes and Training'.

Funding

For funding information, take a look at the GOV.UK website.

Further Information

UCAS Teacher Training

Website: www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/teacher-training

Teach First

Website: www.teachfirst.org.uk

Department of Education Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Email: DE.DEWebMail@education-ni.gov.uk

Website: www.deni.gov.uk

General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland)

Scottish enquiries

Email: gtcs@gtcs.org.uk

Website: www.gtcs.org.uk

GOV.UK

UK government services and information

Website: www.gov.uk

Teach in Scotland

Scottish enquiries

Email: teaching@infoscotland.com

Website: www.teachinginscotland.com

Montessori Partnership

Email: info@montessoripartnership.com

Website: distancelearning.montessori.org.uk

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

Information on Higher Education courses and scholarships through the medium of Welsh

Email: gwybodaeth@colegcymraeg.ac.uk

Website: www.colegcymraeg.ac.uk

Welsh Government Education and Skills Department

Email: customerhelp@gov.wales

Website: www.wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/?lang=en

Student Finance Wales

Welsh enquiries

Tel: 0845 6028845

Website: www.studentfinancewales.co.uk

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

Education Workforce Council Wales

Website: www.ewc.wales

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