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The early years: developing practice

This OU level 1 module is appropriate for practitioners currently working with young children aged between birth and seven years in public, private, voluntary and independent settings. You’ll cover a range of themes including how children develop and learn; their personal, social and emotional development; communication and language; literacy, mathematics; and their understanding of the world. You'll learn about the early years curriculum and develop your ability to work effectively with young children, parents, colleagues and other professionals.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code
Study level
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

This module is for people working in early years settings with children from birth to seven years. If you are a childminder, pre-school leader/practitioner, childcare worker, unqualified nursery teacher, classroom/teaching assistant, nursery nurse or outreach play worker or working voluntarily in a school, Children's Centre, day nursery or out-of-school context with young children, it will help you develop your professional knowledge, skills and practice.

You will focus on the responsibilities, knowledge and skills underpinning your work with young children and with other adults, including parents and carers and a range of professional colleagues in multi-agency contexts. You will develop your understanding of the role of the early years practitioner, the nature of young children’s learning and development and the importance of early years environments.

Your understanding of the requirements of local and national frameworks (both statutory and non-statutory), that guide the education and care provision of early years settings and the work of children’s services in safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare will be extended and you will develop your awareness of the structure and nature of the wide range of provision for children from birth to seven years.

You will explore these areas through studying printed study materials, audio and video recordings (on DVD and online), and two module readers, and by carrying out activities linked to your work with young children.

After successfully completing this module you will have developed a clear awareness of your own role in working effectively in the care and education of young children. You will be aware of the conditions and contexts which support young children’s learning and development and will be confident of your ability to provide and/or support the provision of an appropriate and effective care and learning environment for children.

Vocational relevance

This module is for practitioners working with young children and their families in a wide range of early years settings across the UK, and its content is directly relevant to practice. This is the first module of the Foundation Degree in Early Years, Diploma of Higher Education in Childhood Practice and BA/BA (Hons) Early Years and will meet the needs of adults seeking to become highly qualified and experienced early years practitioners, including those who aspire to achieve the graduate Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) in England.

If you are an experienced practitioner there is an accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) route The early years:developing practice (APEL route) (EZL100) that enables you to demonstrate core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning to help you to progress to modules at OU level 2 (SCQF Levels 8 and 9). Please note that this route is not available for standalone study - it can only be studied as a module of the qualifications listed above.

Outside the UK

This module is available in the UK and to students working in English-medium early years settings which teach a UK or Republic of Ireland curriculum (e.g. Early Years Foundation Stage or Key Stage 1) in Europe and British Forces schools.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor will be particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. We also offer tutorial support online through online forums and sometimes via group tutorials that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. 

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system. The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is a project.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015 when it will be available for the last time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school


This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. It provides core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning to help you to progress to modules at OU level 2.

To study this module you must have been working with young children aged from birth to seven years in a registered early years setting prior to starting the module for six months if full time or 12 months if part time for at least five hours per week. You may have been working in a paid or a voluntary capacity. During the module, you will need to be working in the setting for a minimum of five hours a week in order to carry out the practical activities.

If you are a Nanny/Foster Carer working with a child (birth to six years), you must be able to undertake 3–5 hours paid or voluntary work each week in a registered early years setting where you have access to groups of children and support from experienced professional colleagues. The home of a parent/foster carer or nanny is not – on its own – an acceptable setting.

You must be over the age of eighteen years at module start date.

To work in an early years setting you will need to meet the ‘fit person’ criteria for doing so, including obtaining the necessary criminal record clearance required for the setting and country in which you are working. It is the responsibility of you and your employer to ensure you meet these requirements, and not the OU. You should contact the relevant agency in your country for more information if you are in doubt about your eligibility, or to find out more. 

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

To undertake the module you must be working in either a paid or a voluntary capacity with young children and have the support of your employer. You will need to present a Permission Agreement Form with your registration application. This form gives further information about the module pre-requisites, and advice for the employer before signing the agreement forms. 

You must also ensure you meet the ‘fit person’ criteria as noted in the Entry section, above. There is no essential preparatory work before the module starts, but it is suggested that you locate and become familiar with the policy and curriculum documents for the early years setting in which you work. Reading practitioner journals such as Nursery World will allow you to acquaint yourself with current issues in the early years sector.


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 £2700.00

To register for this course - see How to register below. Registration closes 17/09/15

You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

October 2015 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

To register for this module, please refer to the entry requirements and contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service (online registration is not available).

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time that is convenient to you.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 31/07/2015.

What's included

Three volumes of print materials, two module readers, other printed materials, DVD and website.

You will need

A DVD player.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

Please note that this module makes substantial use of audio and visual materials. Written transcripts are available for the audio-visual material. The module materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, or foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats may be available in the future.

You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. If you have concerns about taking this module please contact your regional or national centre for advice.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.