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This certificate explores principles of pedagogy within the particular context of Early Years provision. Starting by considering how the concept of childhood, in the UK, has been developed, it unpacks the values that we hold as early years educators and how these impact upon the choices that we make in our work with children.

The course modules consider how we, as individuals, work in partnership with families and a wide range of professionals to produce the best outcomes of the child. It also considers how our practice is influenced by policy. All learning is underpinned by principles of leading practice and how this can be done most effectively and ethically. 

With a focus on the interrelationship between theory with practice, the curriculum will develop your understanding of yourself as a leader and ‘change agent’ for improvement in the Early Years.  



Key Features

  • This course is suitable for Early Childhood graduates, but also those with alternative qualifications who wish to move into a lead practitioner role in Early Childhood. In such cases a commitment to understanding the unique approach of early childhood pedagogy is necessary. 
  • Learning interactions are designed to deepen critical reflection in and on child development and education in order to support your personal and professional development 
  • A chance to develop the necessary professional skills and knowledge to deal with complex issues reflectively, systematically and creatively 
  • An opportunity to question and reflect, building a sound base of self-knowledge and critical awareness 
Students walking to campus smiling

Top 20 for student experience

We're in the top 20 for student experience in the Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

Entry Requirements

Either a first or second class Honours Degree or evidence of equivalent professional experience and achievement. Individual previous experience of practice with children aged 0-8 years is essential. A significant element of this degree is critical reflection upon theory in practice, so current practice with children, although not essential, will be of great benefit.


Study options

The course can be pursued full or part-time. It can be completed as a stand-alone certificate, or as a component of a Masters in Education.

Dr Emma Bailey

Emma Bailey - Early Years Teacher

Having completed the BA in Early Years at Worcester (and quickly realising what a special place it was to further my education), I did the MA for no reason other than I really wanted to. The MA allowed me the freedom to really dive into the nitty-gritty of what I love about education and the Early Years. The autonomy and self-direction allowed me to carve out a voice for myself separate to the classroom, and the policy which shapes it. I learned what values were at the core of my philosophy for quality practice and this allows me to create informed care and education which is still true to me.

The flexible delivery of the course meant that having a baby during my MA year didn't stop me and that's testament to the incredible team within the centre for children and families who are passionate about helping everyone succeed. I would recommend the course and the centre to everyone. I am currently a classroom teacher in a small first school, but I have every intention of going a step further and completing a PhD.

Johanna Cliffe.

Johanna Cliffe, Lecturer at The Learning Institute

The MA in Education (Early Years) provided opportunities for me to engage deeply with what I am passionate about, to question and reflect on what I believe in as a professional, and to consider more deeply what kind of professional I wanted to continue to be.

The Early Years lectures were insightful and challenged me to question dominant discourses, find my own narrative and build on my own pedagogy to enable me to see my practice and the field of Early Years Education in new ways; to see things differently and to open up to new possibilities and ways of being and working. Through completing the MA in Education (Early Years) I expanded my knowledge about theory and practice but also learnt far more about myself both personally and professionally which I know serve me well as I move forward in my career.

Samuel Proctor, Teacher with SENDi specialism

What really gripped me about this course, was how each module got me to think about my own practice. This really opened my mind to new possibilities beyond anything provided in previous training and education courses. I was able to reflect on what I was doing, and how I could continue to change and improve the provision I offered to my little learners. What I was learning and researching directly linked to, and influenced, my practice. Reflecting on this process provided the basis for my discussion when completing the course assignments. It really was a reciprocal relationship. Not only was I meeting the criteria for the course, but I was genuinely empowered to implement positive changes within my setting. 

Now, in addition to teaching, I have developed training that I deliver to internal and external colleagues, including trainee teachers; I've had the opportunity to 'guest lecture', and have even had research published!  If I had not participated in this course, I am certain I would never have had these opportunities, and consider achieving my Masters in Education (Early Childhood) as not only an achievement in itself, but a gateway to so many additional possibilities I would never have previously identified.                                       

Course content

What will you study?


  • Policy Influence in the Early Years 
  • Communication and Collaboration in Leading Early Years Practice 
  • Effective Early Years Practice and Pedagogy 
Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

The three modules that make up the PGCert are taught flexibly. All content is delivered online with the option of meeting your tutor for 1:1 tutorials. There are weekly directed study tasks and opportunities to interact with other students through discussion boards and with your tutors through an online journal. You will be directed to a wide range of resources for your independent study. Pastoral support is available through the personal academic tutoring system as well as the specialist support that is available through a variety of student and academic support services. Library services, in particular, are always on hand to support you in your study.


You are taught through a combination of wide range of learning and teaching activities, these include: weekly Online Learning Activities, critical analysis of theory, policy and evidence, opportunities for dialogue and discussion, personal reflection, 1:1 tutorials (face to face or via Skype), the sharing of student ideas through discussion boards for peer review and response. In addition to these activities there will be opportunities to attend workshops, taught sessions and conferences. 

A well as those methods of teaching mentioned above, meetings with personal academic tutors should be scheduled on at least 3 occasions during your course.

As this course is delivered flexibly, there are no mandatory face-to-face teaching hours, although, as mentioned above, a number of opportunities are provided.

Independent self-study

You are expected to undertake on average 15 hours of personal self-study per week. This may vary week to week, especially around assessment periods.

Independent learning is supported by a range of excellent learning facilities, including the Hive and library resources, the virtual learning environment, and extensive electronic learning resources. 

Teaching staff

You will be taught by a teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team includes Dr Carla Solvason, Samantha Sutton-Tsang and Alison Prowle.

Teaching is informed by the research and consultancy, and all course lecturers have a higher education teaching qualification or are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy.


The course provides opportunities to check understanding and learning informally through the completion of practice or ‘formative’ tasks throughout each module. This may involve gaining individual feedback from your tutor through your private learning journal, or feedback from your peers via discussion boards. Each module has one formal or ‘summative’ assessment which is graded and will count towards the overall grade.

Assessment methods include analytical reflections on both theory and practice, critical analysis of theory, power point presentations of key ideas and essays.

The formal, summative assessment requirements for an individual student over the year of the course is: 3 x 3000 word assignments.


You will receive feedback on both informal and formal assessments. Feedback is intended to support learning and you are encouraged to discuss it with personal academic tutors and module tutors as appropriate. We aim to provide you with feedback on formal course work assessments within 20 working days of hand-in.

Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification.


Where could it take you?

The breadth of this certificate provides opportunities for progression to roles as lead practitioners in a variety of children’s services, schools and settings, including leadership and management roles.


How much will it cost?


The current fees can be found within the tuition fees document on our figure out finances page.

How to apply