What is an early years practitioner?

An early years practitioner plays an important role in assisting in the care of young children. They plan and organise both fun and educational activities and take care of children’s personal needs. An early years practitioner assists childcare teachers with children’s basic needs, such as bathing, feeding, monitoring movement, and diaper changing.

As an early years practitioner, your aim is to motivate children and use resources imaginatively to help them learn. You’ll provide a safe and secure environment for them to develop their social and communication skills, while recording observations and summarising their achievements.

How to become an early years practitioner?

You’ll need to get early years teacher status (EYTS) and meet the teacher’s standards by completing an early years initial teacher training course. There are several ways to do this:

  • do an undergraduate degree in a subject related to early childhood studies or child development, along with course placements
  • take an early years initial teacher training course after you finish your first degree
  • complete teacher training part-time, if you already have a degree and are working in an early years setting

You can also have your teaching skills assessed over 3 months to make sure you meet the teacher’s standards. For this route, you must be a graduate with a lot of experience across the 0 to 5 age range, and knowledge of key stage 1 and 2 in schools.

Early years teacher status qualifies you to teach children up to age 5. If you want to teach older children, or teach in a primary school, you’ll usually need to get qualified teacher status (QTS).

Early years practitioner duties

Early years practitioner duties are diverse and depend on the employer and specialty, but some responsibilities are common to most:

  • Develop and implement lessons and work schemes, using the Early Years Foundation Stage as a framework
  • Provide a safe and stimulating environment that facilitates learning
  • Motivate and stimulate a child’s learning abilities, often encouraging learning through experience
  • Provide pastoral care and support to children within a secure learning environment
  • Assist with the development of a child’s personal, social, language and physical coordination abilities
  • Develop and produce visual aids and teaching resources
  • Encourage mathematical and creative development through stories, songs, games, drawing and imaginative play

Early years practitioner skills

To be an effective early years practitioner, you’ll need certain skills and competencies. The following are often cited in job vacancies:

  • Excellent infant handling skills as well as empathy and compassion for children
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Caring and kind
  • Approachable
  • Aware of child protection and safeguarding
  • Excellent observational skills
  • Ability to work in a team and individually
  • Passion to work within the Childcare and Education industry and with young children

How to find an early years practitioner job

These jobs are advertised online, in local newspapers and at your local jobcentre. To find all the early years practitioner jobs near you, you need to:

  • Search for early years practitioner jobs on popular job websites such as; Indeed, Total Jobs and CV Library
  • Use the DWP’s Find A Job Service
  • Check local newspapers and local Facebook groups, especially groups dedicated to local jobs

Early Years Practitioner Job Titles

When you search for early years practitioner jobs online, be aware that the jobs might be advertised using a different job title. Popular job titles for early years practitioner jobs include;

  • Playgroup assistant
  • Childcare worker
  • Play worker
  • Nursery practitioner
  • Community nursery nurse

What does an early years practitioner do?

The job of an early years practitioner varies depending on the job role and the company you’re working for. Check the duties and responsibilities of early years practitioner job advertisements to find jobs that best suit your skills and experience. 

The day-to-day tasks of a early years practitioner include;

  • plan and prepare activities, materials and lessons
  • set out activities before class and tidy up afterwards
  • teach children through learning and play
  • speak to parents and carers about their children’s development
  • make sure children learn in a safe and positive environment
  • monitor children’s progress and report any issues
  • supervise nursery workers, teaching assistants and volunteer helpers
  • contribute to curriculum planning
  • attend staff meetings and training sessions