Early Years qualifications and training

The Centre for Education Research & Scholarship (CERS) at Middlesex University has been commissioned to undertake an important study on behalf of The Association for Professional Development in Early Years (TACTYC). This study recognises that over the past two decades, the Early Years Qualifications and Training pathways available to the workforce have been subject to numerous, significant revisions with important implications for public perception, financial remuneration and career progression.

During the 2000s the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC), in its attempts to enact the Children’s Workforce Strategy (2005), introduced the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) – which went on to become the subject of both critique and praise. Considerable government commissioned research was undertaken to establish an evidence base about the effectiveness of EYPS to create positive change in early childhood provision.

By 2013, following The Nutbrown Review (2012), Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) replaced EYPS and there ensued a debate about its parity with school teacher qualifications. A number of issues emerged; chief amongst them was that EYTS lacked QTS and all the associated benefits, including observation of practice, support during a NQT year and national pay scales.

There have been ongoing concerns that EYTs and Training Providers are subjected to the same demands as those in the maintained school sector, but enjoy fewer benefits.

Alongside the challenges and tensions to arise from the introduction of EYTS and EYITT pathways are those associated with the Early Years Educator (EYE) qualifications, introduced in 2014, for practitioners seeking a Level 3 qualification. A significant issue with the EYE route is the requirement for applicants to hold GCSE English and Maths at grade A-C. For many, this acts to deter them and presents recruitment challenges to training providers.

These are some of the core issues to be investigated by CERS; a focus on other concerns frequently cited in debates about training and qualifications including the schoolification of early years training content and the erosion of early childhood specialist skills/expertise in the interests of school readiness will also be explored. The costs of pursuing EY qualifications and the ultimate exchange value they represent within the labour market will also be addressed. Sustained policy attention and reform to the qualifications and training pathways available to the EY workforce has been the subject of much research and debate, and this study will make a vital contribution to gain new insights as the terrain continues to shift.

About the study

Aims and scope

  1. To set the study within context by reviewing relevant policy and research literature
  2. To provide an overview of the nature of courses (delivery, uptake, success)
  3. To consider the content of the training and its relationship to practice
  4. To identify implications of the training for career/ professional development, reflective practice, resourcing and future provision.

The aims outlined above will be addressed through a mixed methods study that will attempt to capture breadth (in terms of the literature and policy reviewed, range of providers included, and geographical coverage) as well as depth (detailed accounts about the experiences of delivering, receiving and enacting the training and qualifications under investigation).

This will be achieved by making use of technology where possible to achieve efficient data collection.


  1. A literature review to include research studies, grey literature, policy texts and media coverage
  2. Collation and analysis of online marketing materials for courses
  3. Online survey of training providers
  4. Online consultation space for training providers
  5. Telephone interviews with small sample of stakeholders
  6. Three case studies with trainees and their training providers, and in-work colleagues; to include focus groups and interviews
  7. One day seminar (with stimulus paper delivered by Prof Peter Moss, and break-out discussion groups made up of training providers, practitioners, advocacy groups, unions) to consider the future of early years training and qualifications.


The study will last approximately one year, from December 2015.