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Postgraduate Diploma in Early Years with Initial Teacher Training

Gain Early Years Teacher Status. No fees.

Earn while you learn if you are working in Early Years

Entry requirements

A degree of 2:2 or above.

GCSE English, Maths and Science at grade 4 or grade C or above (or an equivalent qualification).

Experience of working with children.



UCAS code Direct Applications

Duration One year full-time / part-time, depending on route taken.

How to apply for this course

Course Summary

This Postgraduate Diploma in Early Years with Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) has fully funded places available and leads to Early Years Teacher Status, a qualification which is growing in popularity. People who hold this status are leading professionals in the provision of services for children aged up to five. Programme teaching is delivered two days a week for the first 6 weeks, followed by block of teaching on campus in the spring, plus one day a month and online evening tutorials. You then gain practical experience either in your workplace or on campus.

The Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) programme can follow two routes:

1. If you are already working in an early years setting, this route will work for you. It is also known as the Graduate Entry Employment-based route (part-time). Financial support is usually available to employers to release staff to attend this programme.

2. Designed for graduates in any discipline, this route is ideal for those who’ve decided to change careers, or new graduates with an interest in early years education. The programme is usually fully funded for UK students meaning that you won't pay course fees and small bursaries to support your day-to-day living may be available for eligible candidates. It’s known as the Graduate Entry mainstream route (full-time).

Show video transcript

Hannah: The postgraduate diploma in early years with Early Years Initial Teacher Training is a course aimed at people who are graduates that are either working within the early year sector or who would like to work in the early sector. The course enables you to work as early years teacher and within a range of settings, you might choose to work within the children's center, or you might work within the private voluntary and independent sector. And more recently, some of our early years teachers have been working within reception classes in academies. In order to do the postgraduate diploma in early years with Early Years Initial Teacher Training, you need the same entry requirements as you would to do any initial teacher training. So you need to have a degree. You need to have your maths, English, and science GCSEs, and you'd need to successfully pass the literacy and numeracy skills tests.

Because it's a fully funded course that's completely free to students, so they have their fees paid. And then there are two different routes, so if they are currently in employment, then their setting is entitled to up to 7,000 pounds to support them to study, or if they are joining us as someone who's new to the early years workforce and they're undertaking placements, then depending on their degree classification, they can have a bursary. You get 5,000 pounds for a first, 4,000 pounds for a 2:1, and 2,000 pounds if you have a 2:2. The postgraduate diploma in early years with Early Years Initial Teacher Training is different to a PGC. As on a PGC, you get qualified teacher status, whereas with our course, you get Early Years Teacher Status. And Early Years Teacher Status means that you're a specialist in working with children from birth to the end of the foundation stage.

One of the benefits of undertaking the course here at Plymouth Marjon University is that we offer the course as a postgraduate diploma. This means that you get 120 credits towards a master's. So if you wanted to go on to further study, you would need to complete your dissertation or an independent inquiry module to gain a full master's. If you're already in employment, you're able to fit this in while working as we operate what we call block weeks. So rather than being at university every week, you come in for a week every term. So three times over the year, and a lot of your work is based on your practice. So you can relate theory to what you're doing in your setting. Marjon is a brilliant place to train as an early years teachers, as we have a wide range of networks with early years settings. We have supportive staff who will come and visit you in your setting or on your placements. We have a range of staff with different specialties that are able to support you and teach you. If you'd like more information, please contact me, Hannah Holdgate.

Why this course at Marjon?

Marjon has ten years’ experience of delivering this programme.

Our mentors come from across the South West and have all worked in nurseries in the previous five years.

Many previous trainees have secured leadership roles in Early Years education settings.

Students say...

Tonie Hammacott

"I most enjoy being able to put theory into practice and have made lifelong friends from similar professional situations. I've got greater awareness of my strengths and weaknesses and an understanding of how to develop them. I've also developed more confidence to reflect on my practice and in my writing skills."

Josie Hack

"I've made new lifelong friendships and know they will be a source of support and knowledge throughout my Early Years career. I've enjoyed finding my own pedagogy and implementing new ideas for the children that have enhanced my setting. The lectures are insightful and now I find myself questioning the dominant discourse and finding my own narrative. I have enjoyed the challenges of this course and the opportunities it has provided me to expand my knowledge."

Rosanna Hoadley

"This course allows me to develop my practice through working collaboratively with lecturers, placement mentors and like-minded peers. I have enjoyed being able to visit a variety of Early Years settings too. The lecturers have supported me to develop skills of critical and reflective thinking and I've gained confidence in my Early Years practice."

This course is perfect if you're curious about

Is play the best way of young children learning?

Do children all develop in the same way?

How do young children learn?

How do we record young children’s progress?

How do we judge quality in Early Years?

How does the Early Years Teacher develop and support other staff?

What might you become?

Successful completion of the programme results in the award of Postgraduate Diploma in Early Years with Early Years Teacher Status. Typically, students find employment in Children’s Centres, nursery classes in schools, private and voluntary-funded nurseries or working in Local Authority early years provision. Many students go on to complete a dissertation to gain their MA Early Years.

Modules for this course


1st Year

The Early Years Setting
In this module students question what they know about play. Is play always the most powerful way to learn? You'll discuss the Early Years Foundation Stage and make links between theory and practice.
Notions of Quality in Early Years Practice
The concept of quality is open to interpretation depending on your role. We question how we assess quality in the Early Years setting.
Developing Early Years Practice
You'll consider the role of leadership in Early Years practice and how mentoring and coaching can develop Early Years workers.
The Early Years Curriculum
Develop an in depth understanding of the early years curriculum including the characteristics of effective learning and areas of learning and development.

Fees and funding

Funding available for this course

The Postgraduate Diploma in Early Years with Initial Teacher Training is a fully funded course, this means you as the student usually don't pay any fees. For more information see funding guidance from the government.

Additional costs:


Your schedule



Course location(s):


Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

Takes place through lectures, seminars, workshops, placements and masterclasses.

How will you be assessed?

Through a variety of tasks including essays and placement files.

Course leader

Hannah Holdgate

Hannah is a former SureStart Children's Centre Manager, Nursery Manager and Early Years Professional, assessor and mentor. She is particularly interested in Early Years, Play, Inclusion and Leadership.

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Marie Bradwell

Visiting Lecturer in Marjon Teacher Education Partnership

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Marie has worked in Early Years and education for the past thirty years, working in various roles from manager to teaching assistant and with individuals who have special education needs. She is interested in policy, Early Years, active listening and children’s rights. 

Jayne Garcia


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Jayne is an experienced Early Years Teacher and Pre-School Manager with additional insight into primary education, including school governance. She teaches Child Development and Early Years Initial Teacher Training with a focus on Attachment, Transitions and Children's Emotional Development, as well as Leadership in Early Years.

Jan Gourd

Senior Lecturer

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Jan was previously a primary head teacher in the South West and she now leads a teaching team at Marjon who together draw on decades of classroom experience and wide-ranging research specialisms to deliver Education courses.

More information



Show video transcript

Tonie: It's really rewarding seeing them and being a key person and being there to support the children, and watching them grow and develop, and knowing that you've been part of helping towards their learning. I've enjoyed learning the theory. Because I'm employed, I've got the practice to support, but I haven't actually done a lot of theory behind early years because my degree was in primary education. So the theory has helped to support me and become a better practitioner because I now understand more about attachment and how that can look within practice. Because of the small size of the uni, it helped with the rapport that you had with your tutors, but also actually the groups of the cohort that you're with. You have a bit more of a relationship with them because there aren't half as many as it would be. And the lecture rooms are still a suitable size where you can talk and discuss things with your lecturer and have a really good relationship with them.

Liam: I started working with in education quite a few years ago and I was working in secondary schools, but when I came to university, I rapidly realized I wanted to be working in the early years. It just felt like that was the more emotional, more genuine. Those early years were just so important. I came to do early years teacher training because I really just wanted to further my abilities. It sort of felt that as a classroom practitioner at a nursery, I wanted it to go that extra mile and sort of get some more knowledge, some more practice and really just excel at what I was doing. Throughout my time at Marjon, I've really sort of developed my views, my values, my beliefs have really changed, and that's sort of been nurtured through by the staff and through the information that they've provided. And I feel it's really helped me grow, not just as a practitioner, but as a person. I think I would always recommend someone to look into Marjon because it offers such a unique program, which is really tailor-made to the students. And I feel that that smaller campus, smaller student body has really increased the personal touch that you get with the tutors and the lecturers. And I feel like that's something quite unique that you couldn't really get somewhere else.

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