What is Early Years Teaching?
Teaching in early years means teaching children who are aged 3 to 7 years old, at nursery and/or infant schools.
Why Train to Be an Early Years Teacher?
It’s a demanding job, but it can be hugely rewarding. Both during your early years teacher training and as a qualified teacher, you’ll be supporting children at one of the most vital stages of their education.
For instance, we know that:
- 94% of children who achieve a good level of development at age five go on to achieve the expected levels for reading at Key Stage 1, and they are five times more likely to achieve the highest level
- Students who start off in the bottom 20% of attainment at age five are six times more likely to be in the bottom 20% at Key Stage 1 compared to their peers
Your day will be varied, and you will get the opportunity to make a meaningful difference to young children’s lives. Although part of a team, you will also get the chance to work independently.
Normally based at a single school, you will be able to forge meaningful relationships with colleagues, students and their families. No two days are likely to be the same, even though you generally work in the same location with fairly regular hours.
What is Life Like as an Early Years Teacher?
As an early years teacher, you will help children engage with learning at a vital time in their development. You will need to enthuse and excite them, stimulating their imagination and curiosity in order to make learning both fun and rewarding.
You will help children develop their personal, social, language and physical coordination skills. You will also be responsible for providing a stimulating yet secure learning environment. Providing pastoral care is a key part of the role.
Developing relationships with parents is also important, and you will keep them updated on their child’s progress. In addition, you will work closely with your colleagues within the school, sharing best practice and supporting one another.
However, the most important relationships are those with your students. As one early years teacher put it, “it’s the best age to teach because their adoration is so intense!”
What Skills Do You Need to Be an Early Years Teacher?
Primarily you must have respect for young children, as well as the ability to inspire and enthuse them! You will need energy, creativity and resourcefulness, as well as excellent communication skills. You will need to be able to work independently with children, as well as being part of a wider team. Patience and a sense of humour are also highly valued!
What Do We Cover in Early Years Teacher Training?
Our course equips you with the skills needed for the demanding task of teaching 3 to 7-year-old children in nursery and infant schools. It is a combination of hands-on experience, professional learning and academic study over a period of one year. You will record evidence of your progress towards Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in a professional development portfolio.
This includes training in university, via STSA's professional learning courses, and as part of your school placements, as detailed below:
Our academic partner is Sheffield Hallam University, whose course is rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. At university, you will study the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science for Key Stage 1 and all aspects of the early years foundation stage. As part of the course, you gain 60 credits towards a Masters qualification. Academic work is assessed by written coursework assignments and you will be assigned an academic tutor, who will support you throughout the year.
In STSA Professional Learning Courses
We run a number of STSA professional learning sessions throughout the year. These days are a great opportunity for our trainees to come together, catch up and share their experiences. Our trainees tell us this is a highly valued part of our course.
Sessions particularly relevant to early years teaching include:
- Child development
- EYFS curriculum
- The Early Years profile
- Outdoor learning
Examples of other topics covered include:
- The Professional Teacher
- Lesson/scheme design
- Assessment: marking and feedback
- Data collection and analysis
- Barriers to learning
- Organisation of self
- Role of SENCO
- Behaviour management
- Outdoor learning
- Building resilience
- SEND and inclusion
- EAL and new arrivals
- Communication with parents
- Planning for transition
The STSA team are on hand throughout the course to help you with any issues or questions you may have.
During your School Placements
Our early years teacher training course includes high-quality placements in two of our partner schools, providing experience in contrasting settings – which is part of the Department for Education (DfE) regulations for Initial Teacher Training (ITT). Your main placement is approximately 24 weeks over the academic year, whilst your complementary placement is approximately 6 weeks.
You will have your own mentor in each school, who will meet with you regularly and provide support and advice. They will also assess your teaching in school.
You can find out more about what to expect on our course here.
You will always be developing as a teacher and there are a variety of career paths ahead of you. You could choose to specialise in a particular area, such as Maths, Literacy, Sport or Special Educational Needs. You could also develop your leadership skills and take on middle management roles, such as becoming the head of a subject. Taking that further, there is always a need for headteachers and deputies, and there are leadership training programmes to support your progression. With multi-academy trusts growing in number, there are also new opportunities working across a number of schools, taking on responsibility for early years education or a particular aspect within it.