Jump to accessibility statement Skip to content

PGCE Early Years Teaching (DL)

Home / Help and Advice / Studying with us / My course / PGCE Early Years Teaching (DL)

The PGCE Early Years Teaching (DL) is a postgraduate teaching qualification, subject specific to early childhood development (children aged 0-5); teaching and learning pedagogy encompassing early literacy and early mathematical development; observation and assessment techniques; and key transitions in the formative early years. This programme includes two Masters modules and, on successful completion of the programme, trainees may progress to Stage 2 of the MA International Education or MA Education.

Please see the answers to frequently asked questions about the course below:


Published: 7 January 2021

The Qualification Assurance Agency (QAA) in the UK requires all universities to undertake a rigorous approval process for their programmes. This involves scrutiny by other academics and stakeholders from outside the institution who will only allow a programme to be offered if they are satisfied with the rigour of the academic standards and the organisation to support it. This PGCE Early Years Teaching was revalidated in August 2019. Annually, a report is written on this programme to monitor its quality and part of that process is a commentary by an External Examiner whose role it is to assure the University that the programme is comparable to other similar programmes, that it meets its stated aims and is maintaining quality standards. This programme always meets or exceeds these requirements.

The programme is split into two semesters and has four core modules. There are two taught modules, one research module, and one teaching experience module.

EDP380 is the teaching experience module. There are two blocks. The first requires you to teach 11 hours per week for 6 weeks. The second requires you to teach 14 hours per week for 6 weeks. You will notice that the block 'windows' are both longer than 6 weeks. This is to account for regional variations with regards to holidays and school terms (etc.) and to also allow you to start teaching at the start of a school unit or scheme of work if they do not align favourably with the start of each window. Therefore, trainees select 6 weeks out of each window to become the designated teaching block. Trainees are required to collate evidence which is ultimately judged against Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). The final assessment of the teaching experience module is a dialogic assessment with the evidence collated used to support.

EDP386 is the first academic module with two assessments focusing on the role of observing, assessing and reporting of young children’s learning and literacy development. The first assessment is based on a narrative observation (from TE1) with a focus on phonological development and an evaluation of this drawing upon academic reading and child development theory. The literacy progress of this child is tracked for the duration of the teaching experience module. These observations will form the basis of the second submission which will demonstrate your communication skills, alongside your knowledge and understanding of the importance of parental collaboration linked to the quality planning cycle to assist children’s development.

CHSM08 is the first of two Masters level academic modules. In this module, you will critically consider factors that might influence perceptions and definitions of a curriculum. The impact of culture and society on the curriculum will be explored and relevant literature drawn upon to evaluate the way in which competing demands of different social worlds can influence content and processes. The nature of quality will also be explored. There are two elements to this assignment: the first is an evaluation of the curriculum you currently implement and the second is a critical consideration of key themes within the curriculum and the impact on educational experiences.

EDPM09 is an academic module, at Masters level, where you conduct action research in your setting. You are asked to identify, implement and evaluate a project to develop effective communication, partnership and practice with parents and setting staff that supports the well-being and development of the child. In line with the cyclical nature of action research, you will try out some new techniques, make on-going amendments to your techniques and practice, collect data and then write a final report.

Teaching and assessment

All teaching and learning materials will be located in the spaces provided on Canvas, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). We use a wide variety of teaching methods with tasks including required reading, directed activities and self assessments. There are online discussion forums where trainees are invited to debate current issues relevant to the module content and, if you live close to other students on the course, we encourage you to form a study group. The teaching experience is work-based and conducted entirely in a school or other educational institution that you have secured a placement at or are currently working at. This is supported by a mentor and university academic staff. We assess both the theoretical and practical elements of the course. Assessment is through written assignments, video presentation, a dialogic assessment of a portfolio of evidence of Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) and observed teaching.

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

This programme regularly has trainees from over 50 different countries and all countries have somewhat different conditions for awarding their own qualified teacher status (or similar). The programme is based on the UK Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) which are remarkably similar to those in many other countries. As far as the requirements of getting Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) in England (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Irish Republic are different) are concerned, the only trainees who get QTS or EYTS are those who undertake their training in a state school in England and then complete their ECT (Early Career Teacher) induction for two years afterwards.

Therefore – no, you do not get QTS or EYTS.

In terms of QTS being the equivalent to EYTS, what this means is it is equal with regards to the quality of teaching. However, for the market that this programme caters for – the international/private schools around the world – you do not need it unless the school only employs teachers who already have taught in the state system and have QTS or EYTS. You will need to check with the school and consider you own position in this respect.

This programme should not be seen as an alternative route to gaining state registration (QTS) or EYTS. Although it may be possible to get QTS from an individual country, there is no guarantee that it will be granted. If QTS or EYTS is a key driver for doing this programme, you are advised that this may not be the programme for you or, at the very least, you should take steps to assure yourself that any country you apply to may look favourably upon your request.

There is an Assessment-Only Route to QTS available which can now be completed internationally – provided that you satisfy the rigorous and extensive entry criteria. Trainees wishing to complete the PGCE Early Years Teaching programme may be eligible to continue on to the Assessment-Only Route to QTS subject to one of the teaching experience blocks (6 weeks) being undertaken in the Primary age phase, usually age 5-6. All trainees completing PGCE Early Years Teaching are assessed against the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years).

Further information for this can be found on Assessment Only Route to QTS. At present, the University of Sunderland does not offer an additional route to EYTS.

No, you will not. Only trainees who undertake their training in England and whose teaching experience is in a state school will automatically get a DfE number during their PGCE year.

Some international schools may ask for this but it is meaningless unless the holder also has completed the NQT year and has full state registration. If a school does ask for QTS or EYTS, they are probably also expecting you to be already trained and state registered in another country and in the case of many international schools that will mean England, the USA, Canada, New Zealand or Australia. This programme does not recommend for QTS or EYTS.

The programme is marketed for in-service teachers, or pre-service teachers (those looking to join the teaching profession) in international schools around the world. The expatriate teaching community is an extremely fluid one and teachers tend to move around the world regularly. It is our experience that this award is recognised in many countries – indeed the programme has grown simply by word of mouth with its graduates, and teachers who have worked with trainees, recommending it. We cannot, of course, guarantee that any particular school or setting will accept it, but we have good evidence that they will.

The PGCE Early Years Teaching is not designed as a shortcut to English QTS or EYTS. It is designed for the overseas market and this is made very clear on application. A declaration of understanding is signed by all applicants to the programme.

There is currently one way of obtaining QTS after completion of the PGCE Education – this is the Assessment-Only Route to QTS. No guarantee can be made that this option will remain open indefinitely but for the moment, it is still both popular and available. We have carried out international assessments for QTS in China, Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai, Switzerland, Romania, Egypt and Vietnam and anticipate this will grow.

Overview of the Assessment-Only Route to QTS for those completing PGCE Early Years Teaching:

The Assessment-Only Route to QTS is for experienced teachers, who have been teaching whole classes for a minimum of two years. For entry to the route, you will need to have been teaching in at least two schools or settings, for at least two years and across the 3-7 age range (hence the requirement of one teaching placement to be completed in Primary phase – see above). Typical applications to this route include people who have taught for more than two years in the independent sector or overseas.

The Assessment-Only Route to QTS allows you to demonstrate that you already meet all of the Teachers’ Standards for QTS. The assessment period is a maximum of 12 weeks. We will ask you to present detailed preliminary evidence at interview – then for the final recommendation for QTS we will assess your teaching – normally at the school or setting where you are currently working.

If you are awarded QTS, the next step is to undertake the period of NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) induction. This includes a personalised programme of professional support and further assessment against the core professional standards for teachers normally organised by your employing school or local authority.

Entry requirements for the AOR to QTS:

We require applicants to have the following:

  • An honours degree normally a 2:2 or above
  • GCSE grade C, or equivalent, in mathematics and English language. If you intend to teach at primary level you also need at least a grade C in a sciences subject
  • Full proficiency in English language
  • Recent significant experience of teaching in at least two schools
  • Teaching experience across the breadth of the chosen age range
  • An enhanced check from the Disclosure and Barring Service and Fitness-To-Teach approval (or equivalent for your country)
  • References recommending you for the Assessment-Only Route from the Head Teacher or Principal of the schools in which you have gained your experience

We invite potential students to an interview (these can also be carried out online) where you present a portfolio of initial evidence that shows clear progress towards meeting the QTS standards. For further information, see Assessment-Only Route to QTS.

This is an International Teacher Education (ITE) programme and, as a prospective trainee on that programme, it is a requirement for completion of the teaching experience element of the programme that you find a school or setting locally willing to host you throughout the programme. In particular, the school will need to be clearly informed about the arrangements they will need to put in place for the teaching experience element.

We are not able to help with finding placements for trainees, but are willing to provide information and talk to interested schools about the programme and its requirements. Further advice about finding a placement can be found on the PGCE Early Years Teaching course page.

We will also need the school or setting to send us the completed School/Setting Proposal form demonstrating their agreement to hosting you during your placement

Your mentor needs to be someone who has experience of teaching and schools, but not necessarily of mentoring. The mentor is expected to have themselves completed a programme of teacher training. If they have already mentored other trainees elsewhere in the world that would be an advantage, but support and guidance is provided for mentors via the designated mentoring space on Canvas (the University of Sunderland’s Virtual Learning Environment).

Mentor requirements

We would expect a mentor to be an experienced, qualified teacher with a minimum of one year post-qualification experience. The mentor does not have to have a UK teaching qualification. Mentors will be expected to:

  • initiate regular observations, get to know the trainee, their circumstances, their concerns
  • provide friendly professional support and help with any problems relating to professional problems raised by the trainee
  • introduce the trainee to "useful" staff in the school or setting, so that they can benefit from advice and help from a range and variety of colleagues
  • be prepared to offer guidance, if asked, with the preparation of lessons and teaching materials
  • observe the trainee's teaching (once per week) and provide constructive feedback to the trainee
  • meet formally with the trainee (once per week) to discuss progress and set future targets
  • discuss the trainee's progress with other staff and provide feedback where necessary to the trainee
  • discuss and, if practicable, share teaching materials with the trainee
  • discuss construction of assessment strategies and lesson evaluations with the trainee
  • listen actively, ask open and appropriate questions
  • make suggestions without being prescriptive
  • prepare interim and final reports on the trainee’s teaching
  • assist in the evaluation of the trainee’s evidence portfolio against the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years).

Normally this would involve approximately 1.5 hours per week. The University makes a payment of £500 to the mentor for the two placements and their involvement in observing and writing an interim and final report on the trainee. On occasions, you can have two mentors, one per placement. This would mean that each mentor would receive £250 for the above work and commitment.

Your PGCE Early Years Teaching will be based on the phase that you are working in while training – at least one teaching experience must be within Early Years (0-5) – and your academic assignments will focus on this phase. Therefore, by the end of the programme, you will be able to demonstrate a good understanding of this particular age group. International schools or settings may be willing to accept that you have a good subject knowledge from your first degree and that the PGCE Early Years Teaching has given you a good grounding in the aspects of teaching and, therefore, be willing to employ you outside the phase in which you trained. We cannot, however, comment on how likely it is that this would happen in any particular school or setting. You should be able to show competence to teach in the phase you were in during training from the standards you achieved and the academic work you submitted and you should consider carefully the position if you are likely to wish to teach outside this in the future. We work with trainees from around the world and across many curricula and school structures but to help you understand what we mean by phases (or by the term Key Stages) please note the following:

The four Key Stages in the UK:

Early Years

Ages 0-2 Childcare
Ages 2-3 Funded 2 year old provision / childcare
Ages 3-4
Ages 4-5 Reception Year


Key Stage 1: Ages 5-7 (Years 1 and 2)
Key Stage 2: Ages 7-11 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Key Stage 3: Ages 11-14 (Years 7, 8 and 9)
Key Stage 4: Ages 14-16 (Years 10 and 11)

Post compulsory education

Key stage 5: Ages 16-18 (Years 12 and 13)

This is a postgraduate programme, so the entry requirement is a bachelor’s degree with honours. In certain circumstances (at our discretion), we can accept other qualifications if their content and specific background is of an equivalent or corresponding level. This is not automatic and we look closely at your qualifications and make judgements on individual cases. It is possible for you to send a copy/scan of your degree certificate to us before application so that we can tell you if it meets the minimum entry requirements as equated by the NARIC system used by most UK universities to equate non-UK awarded degrees. Please email this to: pgceearly.tne@sunderland.ac.uk.

We have two entry points for the programme. At present, our start dates are September and March. The programme is 36-weeks long.

Those who wish to take part in our graduation ceremony are welcome to do so. For the September intake, this is held in Sunderland around the second week of July each year after the main programme is completed. If you complete at a different time, then you can still attend graduation.

We require proof of English language proficiency from all students, including those from the UK. If your degree was studied in the medium of instruction of English then you may be exempt from providing the proof of English requirement (degrees from any UK University are exempt). Please check to see if your degree certificate has this stated on it or the transcript. If not, then please ask your University to provide a note on headed paper, which clearly states the degree and medium of instruction. However, if you cannot provide this, then you may have to undertake the Academic IELTS test to prove that you are ready to study at postgraduate level in the medium of instruction of English. A minimum IELTS band score of 6.5, with 6.5 in writing, and no less than 6 in Reading and Speaking and Listening.

Other types of evidence that we accept are GCSE/iGCSE in English Language (as a first language) of Grade C or above and Malaysian STPM Grade C or above if completed within the last 5 years.

If you have any questions regarding proof of English, please email pgceearly.tne@sunderland.ac.uk for advice.

Self-Funded students

£1000 will be due at least two weeks prior to the programme start date. The remaining fees will be split into three instalments that will be due throughout the programme.

Sponsored students

The sponsored amount will be invoiced in one instalment. We will require the following to be emailed to pgceearly.tne@sunderland.ac.uk 1 month prior to the start of your programme (if this is not received by this deadline then this will result in the student being invoiced for full fees):

  • Name of School/Company paying for the fees
  • Name of the student along with the student application number (e.g. 189095994)
  • How much the School/Company is paying for on behalf of the applicant - must be in £GBP
  • Contact details of the school - must include address, email and telephone number
  • Point of Contact at this School/Company who will deal with any future enquiries relating to this invoice
  • Letter must be on official letter headed paper.

Payment can be made via our Payment Portal. This is the quickest way for the University to receive your deposit and there are no chargers by the University for using this portal. Payments can also be made via bank transfer, but please be aware that there may be some hidden charges which you will be liable for. Bank details can be found on our How do I pay my fees? Help and Advice article.

We will consider your application as soon as possible, but it will be subject to certain checks first. In some cases, we may need you to provide some outstanding documentation. Once your application has been reviewed, you will be given a ‘conditional’ offer pending either paying of the £1000 deposit or English or both. Once you have met all conditions of your offer, you will then be sent an ‘unconditional’ offer. You will be advised to enrol at least two weeks prior to the programme start date (at which point your deposit will become non-refundable) and, once enrolled, you will then be contacted by the FES registry and academic teams regarding induction before the start of the programme. Please note that trainees can be accepted onto the programme without a school and a mentor, though they will have to be secured before a trainee can begin the teaching experience element of the programme.

The application timeline is as follows:

1. Submit application along with all possible documents

2. Application reviewed

3. If application is successful, Conditional Offer made

4. Once conditions are met, Unconditional Offer made

5. Enrolment information sent

6. Induction email sent from FES Registry

We will provide successful applicants with a pack of Keeping Warm Activities. These are not compulsory but will be useful if you are very new to teaching and schools. Other than this, we do not expect you to do anything before we open the Virtual Learning Environment to you (one week before the scheduled programme start date) but of course any reading you can do about education or teaching will be of benefit and any involvement you can have with schools in any way will help.

You should make sure that you have a computer that is rated for multimedia use (typically with a minimum speed of 1GHz and a minimum memory of 256Mb, but the faster and with the greatest memory, the better). As all the tuition is web-based, you should also ensure that you have satisfactory internet connection.

If you are able to gain experience across the age phase (0-5) then this is beneficial (though not compulsory) in terms of understanding progress and curriculum developments. Ideally, this would usually be with the same mentor. It is possible, however, to have a different mentor for each experience. This is most likely to be the case if trainees opt to complete one of the teaching experience blocks in the primary phase – usually age 5-6.

The practical teaching element is full time and although you are expected to teach 11 hours per week in the first block and 14 hours per week in the second block, you are still expected to be in the school or setting 5 days a week. This will allow you to enjoy the full experience, attend meetings and undertake duties which your setting and mentor see fit, carry out observations, meet with your mentor and other members of staff, and to collect data for (amongst other tasks) in relation to your academic modules.

If you are a full-time member of teaching staff, then usually you would designate the teaching experience hours from within your normal schedule. While you would still have to have time for the activities/meetings/tasks mentioned above, much of this 'experience' would already be part of your schedule. Many of our trainees are in-service teachers or teaching assistants and, although it is more of a challenge undertaking the PGCE Early Years Teaching at the same time as full-time employment, many have done it before you.

If you are a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Educational Assistant (EA) you may be able to work with classes that are already part of your schedule but this is an agreement that will need to be made with your school or setting.

You would not necessarily be expected (particularly if new to teaching) to teach whole classes immediately. We can allow trainees to begin with observations, one-to-one, small group, and team teaching in the first week and then build rapidly to whole-class teaching. The expectation in your second experience would be that the majority of your teaching would be whole-class. This will be different for every trainee and of course some full time staff will already be teaching full classes as per their normal schedule

It is possible to do your two experiences in two different schools/settings. However, both would need to be in the same education phase (Early Years) unless one teaching experience block is to be undertaken in primary phase – usually age 5-6. The subjects you are teaching and the phase you are teaching in should be clearly indicated when you provide your School Proposal form either as part of the initial application or before you begin your teaching experience.

ReciteMe accessibility toolbar button