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Foundation Degree in Early Years

The first few years of children’s lives are crucial to their development and opportunities in later life – and the adults who work with them are ideally placed to make a difference. If you’re working with young children and would like to extend your expertise as an early years practitioner, this course will help you build on your knowledge and skills, increase your knowledge of children’s development and learning, and deepen your understanding of policies and practice in early years settings.

Key features of the course

  • Suitable for experienced practitioners working in settings such as nurseries, playgroups and children’s centres, including home-based carers and classroom/teaching assistants
  • Develops professional and practical skills like planning, assessment and teamwork
  • Enhances your employability
  • Builds a solid foundation for further study. 

For students living and working in Scotland, this programme of study is also offered as the Diploma of Higher Education in Childhood Practice (W01).

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Foundation Degree

Course code
X01
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
240
How long it takes
Part time – 4 years
Full time – 3 years
Time limit – 4 years
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
See Fees & funding
Entry requirements
For details see Am I ready?

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Start dates

Credit transfer: apply by 20/08/2015
Credit transfer: apply by 03/12/2015

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Course details

This qualification has two stages, each comprising 120 credits. Stage 1 provides the underpinning knowledge and skills needed for more advanced study at Stage 2.

If you have little or no knowledge or experience of studying, you may prefer to start your studies with an Access module as an additional preparatory stage.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll examine the role of the early years practitioner, the range of education and care provision, and the importance of early years environments for enabling young children’s learning and development. You’ll also develop your reflective skills in relation to: working with parents, colleagues and other professionals; play, learning and development; and safeguarding children.


Compulsory modules (120 credits)

Experienced practitioners will start in February with The early years: developing practice (APEL route) (EZL100), an APEL version (accreditation of prior experiential learning) of the first module. This enables you to demonstrate core subject and practice knowledge gained through your role and responsibilities, and appropriate study skills. Please note that studying this APEL module cannot be funded with a student loan or any financial support.  

Stage 2 (120 credits)

You’ll choose modules depending on the setting in which you work and your professional interests – choices include diversity and complexity in children’s lives; working with children and families; and teaching and learning in primary schools. For the second compulsory module at Stage 2 you’ll undertake work-based learning to investigate your own practice.

A nationally recognised qualification in its own right, the foundation degree is also equivalent to the first two thirds of the BA (Honours) Early Years (Q51) degree and routes leading to graduate professional status including the new Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) (formerly EYPS).



The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study. It’s not just study completed at a university that can be considered, you can transfer study from a wide range of professional qualifications as well. A full list of the qualifications and institutions we can consider for credit transfer can be found on our credit transfer website.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide original evidence of your previous study. We will compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen qualification and inform you of any award.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


On completion

On completion of this undergraduate course, you will be awarded the Foundation Degree in Early Years.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.


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Entry requirements

You must be:

  • a current practitioner (paid or voluntary) with at least six months full-time or 12 months part-time experience of working with young children in a registered early years setting 
  • at least 18 years of age at the date on which you begin studying for this qualification. 

Or if you wish to claim accreditation of prior learning (APEL) you must be:

  • an experienced practitioner with at least three years full-time or five years part-time experience in a registered early years setting 
  • at least 21 years of age at the date on which you begin studying for this qualification.

In order to assist you in determining whether the APEL route is appropriate for you, it is essential that you accurately complete the EZL100 self-assessment questionnaire. Please download and save to your computer for completion.

While studying the core modules, you must be:

  • working in a setting following a UK or Republic of Ireland curriculum and which uses English as the language of tuition
  • working in a registered early years setting with young children aged from birth to seven years (e.g Early Years Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1) in either a paid or voluntary capacity
  • directly involved in activities to support young children’s care and learning for a minimum of five hours a week
  • able to work with groups of three or more children on a regular basis.

You must have the agreement and support of your employer/supervisor before registering for this qualification.

Your employer must complete a Permission Agreement Form to confirm their support for your study, that you meet the pre-requisites to study the core modules, and to verify your experience.

You and your employer are responsible for ensuring that:

  • you meet the ‘fit person’ criteria required for the setting and country you are working in  (If you are in doubt about your eligibility, contact the relevant agency in your country for more information.)
  • you obtain the necessary Disclosure and Barring clearance (or equivalent).

If you are a nanny/foster carer working with a child (birth to six years), you must be able to undertake an additional 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.

General study skills

Anyone can study with The Open University, but if it's a while since you did any academic work it's worth checking that your time management, computing and English skills are up to speed. Visit Can I do it? to find out more.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will normally mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Read about how some of our students have fitted OU study into their lives, then find out if you have enough time to study by completing our time planner.

Help! I'm not sure I'm ready!

Study for free

If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! You can get started with an Access module – fascinating courses designed to introduce subject areas, build your confidence and prepare you for further study.

For this qualification, we recommend:

People, work and society Access module

What you will study

This is a multidisciplinary module that allows you to develop your subject knowledge and your general study skills. It provides an excellent introduction to a wide range of subject areas, including children and young people, health, law, management, psychology and social sciences.

View full details of People, work and society Access module

Your next step

Call us on +44 (0)1908 659253 or book a call back. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you. Or come and meet us at an event near you.

How much will it cost?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If (like most OU students) you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you'll take six years to complete an honours degree. Our current fee for 60 credits is £2,700*.
  • Our current fee is £5,400* – based on 120 credits of study – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study.
  • The total cost of your chosen qualification starts from £10,800* based on our current fees.
  • This qualification includes modules with a higher than typical cost. This will increase the overall cost of the qualification quoted. Please call us for further information.
  • This qualification includes modules with a higher than typical cost. If you choose to study one of these modules the overall cost of the qualification may increase. Please call us for further information.

*The fee 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.

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 your qualification and other support

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable. Options include Part-Time Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), monthly payment plans and employer sponsorship. 

We’re confident we can help you find an option that’s right for you.

Just answer these simple questions to find out more about the options available to you for courses starting before 31 July 2016.




How many credits are you planning to study per year? You will need [xxx] credits to complete this qualification

Part time study

Full time study


Do you already hold a degree?

Are you employed?

British Forces

  • If you have a BFPO address, you are only eligible for UK course fees if you are a currently serving member of the British armed forces, and you're temporarily and unavoidably working abroad. Other students using BFPO addresses should contact us on +44 (0)300 303 5303 for UK fee eligibility to be assessed.
* The fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University’s strategic approach to fees.

An OU qualification will always help you stand out from the crowd, now and in the future – whether you’re just starting out, developing your career, or changing direction entirely.

Skills for career development

This foundation degree will develop and enhance the intellectual and practical skills required by non-teacher professionals working at an advanced level in the field of early years. It will also prepare you to engage with further study, enquiry and practice where knowledge of early childhood is required.

In addition to specialist understanding and skills in the area of early years, you’ll also develop a range of key communication, IT, numeracy, analytical, critical thinking and time management skills that are highly valued in the workplace across all sectors.

Career relevance

The Foundation Degree in Early Years has been developed in association with employers and professional associations, and in England is considered a ‘full and relevant’ qualification for the purposes of registration and regulation – which means you’ll count in the qualified ratio of staff at Level 3.

Note: from September 2014, entrants in England to the Foundation Degree in Early Years without a previously achieved Level 3 Early Years qualification will additionally require GCSE passes at ‘C’ or above in English and Maths for their degree be considered a ‘full and relevant’ qualification and to be able to count in Level 3 ratios.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, although the degree is not a recognised qualification for practitioners/classroom assistants, it would enhance their work with children in the Foundation Phase/Key Stage 1.

This foundation degree is also appropriate if you are working in a British Forces school or an early years setting in Europe, which follows a UK or Republic of Ireland curriculum and which uses English as the language of tuition.

Other careers

On completing your studies, you can top up to the full BA (Honours) Early Years (Q51) or other honours degrees – you’ll need to choose your route carefully and we recommend that you discuss your choices with one of our advisers.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser.  Some areas of the website are available to see at any time, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):

  • early years coordinator
  • nursery teacher
  • early years teacher
  • play specialist
  • child development officer
  • children’s centre manager
  • primary teacher
  • child carer or child minder
  • special educational needs teacher
  • special needs coordinator
  • learning mentor
  • educational psychologist
  • paediatric nurse
  • child protection officer.
 


Want to see more jobs? Use the career explorer for job ideas from the National Careers Service, PlanIT Plus in Scotland and Prospects across all nations. You can also visit GradIreland for the Republic of Ireland.

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