Foundation degree in Early Years

The School of Education has offered the Foundation Degree in Early Years since 2002.

Since then several hundred practitioners working with young children aged 0-7 have achieved their Foundation Degree successfully. Many of them have gone on to study for their BA(Hons) Education and are now working in leadership roles in the Early Years sector.

The Foundation Degree in Early Years:

  • prepares students to work in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
  • recognises students' pre-existing knowledge and experience gained in their work with young children.
  • offers students the chance to develop their practice.
  • offers employers the opportunity to encourage change and development of the setting through high quality professional development.
  • has a track record of developing students' confidence and leadership.

There are currently greater expectations of childcare and education than ever before, as understanding grows of how early interventions in children's lives can make a tremendous difference to their future learning, development and well-being. Evidence suggests it is graduate practitioners in Early Years settings who create this difference.

This Foundation Degree can form part of the journey towards graduate status while giving you the theoretical knowledge linked to practical experience to meet the high expectations of today's Early Years practitioners.

The Foundation Degree in Early Years is offered in a variety of contexts:

Flexible learning

Evaluations have shown that the flexibility we offer with the Foundation Degree in Early Years is appreciated by employers and students alike.

We minimise attendance at lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops so that you can study successfully alongside your employment by requiring you to undertake:

  • work-based assessment
  • private study
  • distance learning

During your studies you will develop valuable employment and academic skills whilst also developing your core professional skills, such as:

  • working with other professionals and parents
  • child protection
  • taking account of individual needs of children
  • understanding differences and diversity

Important practical skills are also part of your programme, and will include:

  • managing sessions for children
  • using evidence to develop your practice
  • legal and professional skills
  • leading and managing
  • implementing curricular frameworks are also part of your programme.

Throughout your Foundation Degree there is an emphasis on linking theory and evidence with practice.

In order to facilitate the substantial work-based features of your Foundation Degree, you will need to obtain a letter showing full co-operation and support from your workplace and to identify an appropriate mentor who will support and guide you.


You will graduate with a nationally recognised Foundation Degree.

In addition, you may be able to go onto the final year of a BA(Hons) Early Childhood Education degree or a BA(Hons) Education degree.

What people have said...

"It has given me the privilege of studying the area of work which is my passion. The opportunity has empowered me to continue fulfilling my role and responsibilities in working with children and families. Within this changing profession I am informed on current learning which is very important to me to carry out my roles and responsibilities with care. I have confidence in knowing what I do and also why I do it. Learning on this programme has played a very important part in my personal development. I enjoy learning as well as empowering others through my knowledge." (FDEY graduate)

"It is evident that her studies have enhanced her abilities to reflect upon and find solutions to situations that are beneficial to the child and parents. She is consistently able to display her abilities as an evolving practitioner." (Manager)

"I have been proud to witness your growth as you have opened yourself up to learning through your reading, tutors, mentoring and on-going discussions with colleagues. You have been determined to succeed and do your very best for the children. You are very reflective and critically analyse your input, always thinking 'What next?' and 'What could be better next time?" (Mentor)