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How do I become an early years teacher?

Work with kids aged 3-7

Become a qualified teacher with Warwick for 3-7 year olds

This one year PGCE postgraduate course will recommend you on completion for Newly Qualified Teacher Status teaching 3-7 year olds.

What career does this course lead to?

98% of our graduates who wanted to pursue teaching gained employment upon completion. Read more.

What is this course?What is the Early Years PGCE?

This course is ideal if you enjoy working with young children and feel passionate about teaching. It will equip you with the skills to work with them during some of their most crucial stages of development, between 3 and 7 years old.

Studying at Warwick means you’ll be taught and supported by highly experienced tutors, practitioners, and mentors.

We're nationally known for the quality for our training, and our work's based on a partnership with over 500 local schools in Coventry, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.

We’re a top-ranked university in the Midlands, with Ofsted Outstanding teacher education courses.

If you study with us, you'll become a highly reflective practitioner. You'll be able to adapt and respond to changes in settings and national educational contexts. You'll take responsibility for your ongoing professional development in preparation for future leadership. You'll complete placements in a variety of settings and schools.

You’ll become a confident teacher, able to make a real difference to young children’s development and life chances.

  • Gain practical teaching experience in contrasting school settings
  • Build your confidence and help you to reflect on and evaluate your professional practice
  • Become an authority on the latest curriculum developments, issues and innovations
  • Grow confident in the latest technologies and develop multimedia resources
  • Learn to teach phonics, early reading, writing, and early mathematics, as well as foundation subjects
  • Assess pupils effectively, promoting pupil progress across the curriculum, and manage their behaviour to create a strong learning environment
  • Leave with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to begin your teaching career

How long does it take to train?What is a PGCE and how long does it take to train?

Typically a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is a one-year teacher training course. It offers a mixture of academic and practical learning, and it's the first step for graduates in the development of a teaching career.

It provides a recommendation for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), a requirement to teach in the state school system as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), along with the academic qualification of a PGCE.

There are three routes as follows, and each has its own advantages:

  1. Primary schoolchildrenUniversity-Led (core):

    If you feel passionate about teaching and would like a programme offering placements in a range of schools, this may be the best option for you. You'll spend 120 days in schools and 60 days at Warwick. You'll pay fees but you might be eligible for funding through tuition fee loans and bursaries.

  2. School Direct Training:
    If you'd rather be immersed in the classroom environment, consider the school direct route where you'll spend more time in school. The taught programme is approximately 35 days; you’ll spend the remainder of your time in school. Time in school is organised into three placements over the three school terms. You'll pay fees but you might be eligible for funding through tuition fee loans or bursaries.
  3. School Direct Salaried:
    The salaried route provides an employment-based option. It's ideal for graduates with extensive work experience, who have worked in a school or similar setting for some time. You won’t be eligible for any bursaries or scholarships but you will receive a salary while you train.
What will I learn?What will I learn on the course?

You'll take three core modules on this course.

They're all designed to equip you with the knowledge, understanding and practical skills you'll need in your successful teaching career:

  • Professional Studies
    You'll develop a good understanding of the key factors in successful learning and teaching. You'll address central issues of planning, teaching, assessing and behaviour management as well as addressing topics such as the safeguarding of children.
  • Subject Studies
    You'll cover core subjects (English, Mathematics and Science) and non-core (Foundation) subjects. Foundation subjects are covered through ‘taster’ sessions for each subject: Art and Design, Computing, Design and Technology, Geography and History, Music, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) Physical Education (P.E.), Religious Education (R.E.) and PSHE.
  • Professional Practice
    You'll take placements in different settings to broaden your experience. You'll develop an awareness of your professional development, reflect on progress on school placements and set targets for successful completion of the programme.
How will I be taught?How will I be taught?

You’ll be taught by highly qualified and experienced teachers. Our staff are leaders in education.

You’ll take part in interactive lectures, seminars and workshops, and a number of placements. You'll be challenged to develop your expertise both in the classroom and outside of it.

You'll also have the opportunity for independent study. You can take advantage of the bespoke study ‘spaces’ across Warwick campus.

By far the best thing about teaching Early Years are the incredible relationships you develop with the children. You become a school parent, guiding, supporting, encouraging and teaching. The early years are so much about personal and social development that the children need you. Always remember that the first five years are the most important.
Camilla, Early Years Teacher

How do placements in schools work?

In school, you will directly observe pupils as they learn and teachers as they teach, as well as trying out ideas in practice in classrooms for yourself. The course is designed to ensure that your experience in schools complements and builds on what is addressed at the University.

  1. Primary schoolchildrenUniversity-Led: We’ll work with local partners to give you inspirational placements in local settings. You’ll be taught best practice in the classroom and be mentored on your placements, which will take place as follows:
    • Three extended Professional Practice Placements in contrasting settings (25 days, 25 days and 40 days respectively)
    • Experiential days: mini-placements focusing on EAL, SEN, Phonics, Outside Learning Contexts
    • Serial Days: 11 further days of observation organised by the University
    • Special School Experience: a week of observation organised by the University.

  2. School-Led (School Direct Training & Salaried)
    This route offers trainees an extended Professional Practice placement in one main school (called a Base School), supplemented by an additional placement (minimum of five weeks) in a contrasting school. This ensures a varied and balanced experience of teaching in different settings, whilst allowing you to contribute significantly to the life of your Base School.
icon-howwillibeassessed.pngHow will I be assessed?

You’ll be assessed in the following three modules:

  • Professional Studies: Coursework focusing on a key issue and combining theory with your practice in schools (Masters level assignment – 5,000 words)
  • Subject Studies: Coursework focusing on one aspect of practice in each of the 3 core subjects (Masters level assignment – 3,000 words); and looking at practice in one strand within your Specialism across a range of contexts (e-presentation – 2,000 words).
  • Professional Practice: Meeting the Teachers’ Standards – at a Good or Outstanding level (weekly observations by School Mentor; visits by Link Tutor, and tutorials with Personal Tutor).

You’ll also be assessed on whether you meet the Teachers’ Standards at a level appropriate for a newly qualified teacher.

All assignments are submitted in electronic form. Your tutors will give you formal feedback identifying the strengths of the academic piece, and offering any advice for future work.

icon-support.pngHow will Warwick support me?

There’s lots to take in when you think about becoming a teacher. That’s why we ensure that support is available whenever you need it, in an environment that gives you the space to think.

As well as the personal tutor that will support you throughout the time you’re at Warwick, you can rely upon the friendship and guidance from your fellow trainees. Find out more about what we offer you.

What's the career progression?What’s the career progression from this course?

Upon completing this course you'll be recommended for qualified teacher status (QTS) and gain 90 credits at Master's level. This allows you to fast-track to stage two of our Master's degree, quickly progressing your professional development. If you choose to complete a different Master's, you can still use 60 credits towards your course.

Primary school children

Career progression may be through a specialist curriculum or pastoral role, or by moving into management. Teachers may become heads of Key Stages or coordinators of a cross-curricular area, such as special needs or careers education, as well as subject or professional mentors for trainee teachers on placement.

The PGCE course at Warwick gave me an excellent grounding in my subject area, teaching and learning and the initial experience in the classroom. I have been promoted each year that I have been in teaching. I firmly believe the training at Warwick gave me the skills to aid my progression.
Andrew, PGCE Alumnus

Studying at Warwick gave me a solid foundation for my career as a teacher. Some great lectures, visits and guest speakers provided some useful information to help me on my way. Warwick also arranged some brilliant teaching placements for me where I got up and taught in front of a class for the first time! I would definitely recommend Warwick.
Yasser, PGCE Alumnus


Primary school children


About applying to Warwick

What are the requirements to take this course?What are the entry requirements?

We expect you to be a proactive person who's confident with the age group you want to teach.

You'll be skilled at developing personal relationships, working well as part of a team, and being adaptive to changes. You’ll also be able to critically reflect on your own teaching and learning. Read more about our expectations of teachers here.

As well as these characteristics, there are three things you need to demonstrate:

  1. QUALIFICATIONS
    1. Degree
      You must have graduated, or be about to graduate, from a UK Higher Educational Institute or equivalent, with a 2:2 or above honours degree.

      If you’re applying from overseas, you can see our equivalent overseas qualifications which we accept, and you may wish to see our International Applicants page too.

    2. GCSEs
      You need at least Grade C in GCSE English Language, Mathematics and Science.

      Please note, the new grading system for those receiving their results for GCSE Maths and English was adopted in 2017. The grading system is now 9-1, with Grade 9 awarded to those students in the very top tier. The New Grade 4 is considered equivalent to the Old Grade C within the new grading system.

      If you’re applying from overseas, you can find information about equivalent qualifications in Mathematics, Science, and English Language online

      Please note, you will need ORIGINAL copies of all your qualifications (not copies). If you don’t have these any more, you obtain a Certified Statement of Results instead. These can take some time to retrieve from exam boards. You may also need to pay a fee. Read more here.
    3. Skills tests
      As part of your application, you must pass two Professional Skills tests on numeracy and literacy. We suggest taking these before applying. You have unlimited attempts to pass, and the first three attempts are free. There’s no 2-year lockout period anymore either. You can practice and register at the National College for Teaching and Leadership website. Remember, your results are only valid for 3 years, so make sure that yours will be valid on the course start date.
  2. REFERENCES
    It’s important to get these right because your application can’t be completed without them. If you graduated in the last two years, you’ll need to provide an academic reference. It can take a while to complete and submit a reference, so the sooner you get in touch with them, the better – you might want to send them a description of the course and what you’d like to get out of it to make it easier. UCAS have more guidance about references here.
  3. EXPERIENCE
    Last but not least, we really recommend that you have some experience in mainstream UK schools (Key Stage 1 and 2) before applying. Whilst not compulsory, this experience will give you a flavour for your potential future career, and will help you write your application. Find out how to gain school experience now.

Apply nowApply online (UCAS)

When can I apply?

Applications are open from late October until the next June or July.

How do I apply?

Once you have your course choice, references and certificates, you need to apply through UCAS.

Please note: On UCAS, when applying for the University-Led PGCE, you need to select the University of Warwick. If you are applying for a School Direct route, you select the name of the school accredited by the University Of Warwick.

We recommend that if you wish to gain your qualification through the University of Warwick, you pick at least two of your UCAS options as University of Warwick (Core PGCE) and one of the schools affiliated with us (School Direct). You can find out more about our partner schools here.

Selection Process

If your application is successful, you will be invited to a Selection Day. This usually involves:

  • Presentation by the course leader
  • A written exercise
  • A group exercise
  • Individual Interview

The day gives us a chance to find out a bit more about you, but crucially it’s also your opportunity to meet us find out more about the course, and see if it’s the right one for you.

Don’t worry for now though, we’ll give you more guidance about all this when you’re invited.