Designing and developing the curriculum, assessment and programme for the Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) as the Course/Route Leader.

Sutherland, Helen [Course Lead] and Maisey, Daryl [Contributor]

Impact Summary

In September 2014, the Department for Education reformed the Early Years Professional Status pathways to EYITT with Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS). The redesigned programme needed to build upon student’s prior knowledge, be robust and rigorous, to be compliant and meet the DfE requirements of the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years), and OfSTED, the Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB). National Priorities (NCTL, 2014) and government agendas, such as phonics, early reading, SEND, safeguarding and ‘Prevent’ were also required to be part of the teaching programme. The programme ensured that students developed their knowledge and understanding of teaching birth to five years while successfully applying and providing evidence of meeting the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) within their teaching practice across the age ranges. An outcome of this development was a School of Education team book (2014) was published to support students now studying to become an Early Years Teacher. In 2017, the EYITT programme joined the PGCE the Primary and Secondary QTS portfolio with students undertaking 2 level 7 accredited modules alongside the EYTS to attain the PGCE Birth to Five with EYTS. The programme maintains strong retention (between 94%-100%, 2014-2021), and pass and completion (between 90% -100%, 2014-2021) rates.

Key Achievements

  1. Organised quality curriculum delivery by subject experts with research led and informed lectures. (Maisey and Campbell-Barr, 2021, Marian and Jackson, 2017, Paliokosta and Proyer, 2015, Parry, Allen and Briten, 2019, Sutherland and Mukadam, 2018, Sutherl
  2. Successful student achievement with strong retention and completion rates. (CEP 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
  3. Creating opportunities for knowledge exchange and shared practice within the national EYITT Harmonisation group leading to early years representation at UCET and presenting an Early Year Workshop at UCET Conference. (Sutherland and Quinlan, 2019)
  4. Production of the EYITT supporting criteria compliance documentation identifying policies and procedures demonstrating adherence to the EYITT requirements and supporting advice for PSRB requirements.
  5. Development of innovative robust assessment processes that ensure students can fully engage with the programme and meets PSRB requirements. (External Examiners Report, 2021, CEP, 2021)
  6. Development and sustaining of the programme process handbooks, resources, box, and canvas sites ensuring clear information and guidance easily assessable to all stakeholders. (External Examiners Report, 2021)

Key Aims

The EYITT Early Years Teacher Status is a professional accreditation endorsed by Government for graduate practitioners who demonstrate competence against the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). It recognises early years practitioners’ skills in leading high-quality practice building upon Kingston University’s strong early years portfolio, widening participation and provides a career framework for early year’s practitioners on low salaries with poor pay progression and few CPD opportunities (Bury et al, 2020). This programme for experienced employed early years practitioners comes with a DfE bursary. It has two elements, the taught curriculum, developing student knowledge and understanding of early years, and the practice, student application of this and development of their teaching skills. The curriculum and assessment design considers students’ wide range of experience and through a personalised progress plan identifies the students’ individual requirements to support their success and progression while on the programme. The programme ultimately aims to provide students with an intensive, challenging and rewarding course that enables them to go on to be successful early years teachers and leaders making a difference within the early years sector.


Contextual based, integrated and inquiry learning approaches are used within the EYITT programme design linking the taught phased curriculum to practice where this knowledge is applied and assessed. Opportunities for knowledge transfer and exchange through creating a shared collaborative dialogue facilitated by academics with students create an open honest discourse. This is reflected within the teaching practice where University Liaison Tutors and Setting Based Mentors observe student practice against the curriculum and Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). A reflective discourse is encouraged and recorded within the Assessment Process Handbook documentation. As Course/Route Leader I review and adapted the programme to PSRB requirements (EEF, 2019, DfE, 2021). I consult with stakeholders through SSCC, CEQ, surveys and partnership groups. Changes are then disseminated through the Assessment Process, Mentor and Partnership Handbooks that students, tutors, ULT and Mentor, training, update facilitation meetings and internal moderation is used to ensure understanding. Canvas, BOX, and partnership website house documentation, materials and resources with students providing evidence of meeting the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) within a BOX electronic portfolio. The EYITT supporting criteria compliance documentation identifies all the key processes, policies and procedures demonstrating adherence to the EYITT requirements and supporting advice for PSRB requirements (DfE, 2021).

Key Outcomes

The EYITT programme has impacted upon the students’ experience supporting the development of knowledge and understanding of being an early years teacher in practice with changes made to provision and practice evident within the Students Professional Development Portfolios. External Examiners (Report, 2021) highlights this stating “Student electronic portfolios are well organised and provide a good range of evidence to demonstrate how students are meeting the requirements of the Teaching Standards (Early Years)”. Clear assessment processes and innovative observational approaches implemented during the Covis-19 pandemic ensure that the quality of the assessment procedures continues to be robust and rigorous. The strong academic practice within the personal tutorial programme continues to support and monitor student progress. This is reflected through the excellent outcomes maintained with the retention, completion, and student achievement of the Early Years Teacher Status. While the students are currently employed within early years, student employability as early years teachers is high with re-negotiation of positions with current employers or undertaking new posts as early years teachers. The EYITT alumni continue to engage with Kingston after they have completed the programme, providing alternative placement experience, becoming Setting Based Mentors and some even going on to undertake their MRES.

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