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FdA Early Years

You know how to unlock others potential. Now it's time to unlock yours.

Earn while you learn

Entry requirements

Three A-levels at grades DDE-DDD or above.

Or BTEC triple grades MPP-MMP or above.

Or Access 9-15 D/M with min 3D.

And GCSE English Language grade 4 or grade C or above.

You need to undertake 10 hours per week of relevant paid or voluntary work, and have the support and involvement of your employer.

  • Commitment to equality and to developing anti-discriminatory approaches in practice.
  • Access to the internet for online learning.
  • All applicants must have an informal conversation (either in person or on the phone) with a course tutor.
  • Applicants with other qualifications and/or experience will be considered on an individual basis.

UCAS points 64-72

UCAS code X900

Duration 2 years full-time or 4 years part-time

How to apply for this course

Course Summary

Study for a two-year foundation degree while working in Early Years. Flexible study means you attend university just 23 days in each year. After achieving your foundation degree you’ll have the opportunity to join the final year of an honours degree which opens doors to professional and postgraduate courses such as Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT).

You’ll work with young children for at least 10 hours per week on a paid or voluntary basis and will have support from a mentor in your workplace. Combining higher level academic study with your experience of working in Early Years, this Early Years degree offers personal and professional development alongside the opportunity to join a learning community of like-minded people.

The first year begins with a two-day induction and you’ll then attend university once each fortnight (currently on Fridays) for a full day of teaching. This amounts to around 19 teaching days in the academic year from September through to May. You will also need to study at home, using the internet to access course materials.

In addition to the taught part of the course, you will be involved in work-based learning modules throughout the two years; these enable you to make ‘practice’ links with the ideas explored in taught modules.

You’ll also attend work-based learning workshops at university (typically 3 days per year) and produce written assignments showing how theory gives you insights into practice. Your workplace will need to support you in terms of allowing you to attend the course and by providing a mentor (usually someone with a degree or professional qualification) who will meet with you for an hour every two or three weeks - during which time you’ll explore how your learning relates to practice at work.

Why this course at Marjon?

Designed for those working in Early Years settings.

Competitive fees.

Full university library resources on site and online.

Network with colleagues to improve practice.

Our small and self-contained campus is a welcoming space.

Developed to fit around your work commitments.

This course is perfect if you're curious about

How can we see the setting through the eyes of young children?

Could I become more assertive at work?

What human rights does a baby have?

Does racism impact Early Years settings?

Is childhood really a time of innocence?

Should we encourage risk-taking in preschool children?

What might you become?

Become an Early Years Manager or Special Educational Needs Coordinator. Make a difference for children and families by bringing leadership, skills and expertise to your workplace. Progress to EYITT and become an Early Years Teacher.  Other doors are opened by studies at Honours and Masters level.



Lydia Squires

“My time at university has not only given me a much broader range of knowledge but it has enabled me to be confident in my own perspectives whilst being open to change. I’ve been encouraged to reflect and so I am now more critical of my own and others' practice enabling me to continually adapt my practice as a trainee play therapist and workshop facilitator in order to make a difference to children. I am also more confident in my practice because I have a good knowledge base.”

Lydia is a play therapist and children’s workshop facilitator for Child Assault Prevention UK (CAP UK).

Debbie Leeke

"I found this qualification placed a strong emphasis on reflective practice. This facilitated a personal and individual level of learning that impacted positively and directly on my job. This course was almost unique in offering small class sizes which supports an individual and personal approach to meeting each student’s needs."

Debbie is Deputy Manager at a preschool.

Lisa McMorrow

“Being a mature student I was already working as a teaching assistant and the FdA allowed me to continue working in this role whilst I studied. University gave me the confidence I needed to progress as a teacher as well as making lifelong friends. Being a single parent and working full time I did not expect to leave Marjon with a first class degree. Thanks to Marjon I’ll soon be an Early Years teacher as I am now completing my EYITT. It’s amazing what you can achieve if you believe in yourself.”

Lisa is a trainee primary school teacher.

Modules for this course

Course Snapshot

In the first year we learn about safeguarding, how the brain develops in young people and gain an understanding of how children learn. In the second year you will focus on how children grow up in a globalising world, look at diversity in learning and carry out your own research project.
Chris Simpson - Course Leader


1st Year

Reflective and Professional Practice 1
Choose a challenging aspect of your current role, such as communicating with children on the autistic spectrum. Your workplace mentor will support you to develop your skills and understanding.
Engaging with Learning
Get up to speed with the academic skills you need in order to succeed in university studies. How do your fellow students cope with the pressures of a busy life? Have fun, share ideas and support each other.
Safeguarding Children and Young People
Explore how safeguarding has developed through the years and how high-profile scandals can influence policy. What can you do to ensure that your safeguarding practice is as good as it can be?
Child and Adolescent Development
Learn how the brain develops rapidly in early childhood and adolescence; deepen your understanding of the nature/nurture debate and how society views and shapes us as we grow.
Learning and Teaching
Develop your understanding of how children learn and examine the effectiveness of different learning environments. Evaluate the impact of educational policies on the children you work with.
Policy and Practice
Investigate how children’s life chances are shaped by the circumstances they are born into. Develop an informed view on government policies and how these impact the families you work with.

2nd Year

Global childhoods
Focusing on children growing up in a globalising world, we explore the impact of migration, cultural changes to eating habits, parenting and play, and ask how best to prepare children for the world we don’t yet know
Creative Pedagogies
Focus on creativity and innovation in the learning experience and devise interventions for use in your own setting.
Reflective and Professional Practice 2.
Identify methods of reflecting on practice that work for you. Combine theory with practice to make informed judgements in your workplace.
Diversity in Learning.
Does society disable some children? Can you hone your skills in order to help more children and young people to achieve their potential?
Research in Practice
Learn how research is carried out and design your own research project: this can form the basis of your dissertation should you progress to an Honours year.
Reflective and Professional Practice 3
Examine the use of power within your setting; consider the voice of the child and the culture of the organisation.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £6000 per annum

Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

Teaching includes lectures, discussion groups, tutorials and workplace mentoring. We focus on how your understanding of theory can be applied to make your practice more effective. 


How will you be assessed?

There are no exams involved. Assessment includes reports and essays, building on-line portfolios, presentations and designing interventions for your own workplace.

Course leader

Chris Simpson

Chris Simpson is a Senior Lecturer with many years’ experience in a wide range of educational settings, formal and informal, in the UK and overseas. She has a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education and a Masters in Professional Development, and has been working in Higher Education since 2007. Chris loves working with practitioners, and believes that when students engage in higher education while working this has the potential to transform their practice. She’s inspired by seeing students bringing their professional curiosity to university, and by their commitment to making a difference for children and families.

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Jayne Garcia

Associate Lecturer

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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.

Hannah Holdgate

Lecturer in Education

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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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