Early Years Lead Practitioner



Early Years Lead Practitioner, Level 5

The Early Years Lead Practitioner apprenticeship is ideal for practitioners who are aiming to be leaders within their setting. Building on your existing experience as a key worker, this apprenticeship will help develop your knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable you to lead the day to day operations.

What is an Early Years Lead Practitioner?

This occupation is found in a range of settings which can include day nurseries, playgroups, nursery schools, pre-schools, kindergartens, primary schools, hospitals, social care settings, out of school environments and local authority provision.

The purpose of this role is to be a proactive and influential practitioner, working directly with children, skilfully leading day to day practice at an operational level. As an active practitioner, you’ll be working directly with children, skilfully leading day to day practice at an operational level.

You will be a role model of play-based learning, supporting others to develop their own practice. You will be a highly skilled professional who takes an operational lead for the care, learning and development of all young children within your care, adapting to individual needs to provide an inclusive and holistic provision.

Engaging with sector developments, both locally and nationally, you will be committed to developing your own professional and educational competencies.

Interacting with children aged birth to eight years, families, practitioners, other professionals and appropriate agencies, your will be responsible for supporting the quality of learning and developing in your setting. Leading on the operational aspects of the provision, the Lead Practitioner is typically responsible for leading other practitioners, an aspect or environment such as: Communication and Language, Planning and Assessment, Forest School, Physical Activity and Nutrition. They usually report directly to the head of the setting (The Manager, The Leader, The Director).

Who is this for?

Depending on your setting, your title may vary but typical job titles for this apprenticeship include: 

Room leader, Deputy manager, Assistant manager, Senior practitioner, Lead practitioner, Pre-school leader, Early years coordinator.

Early years practitioner, Nursery officer, Early years officer, Key worker, Senior key worker, Baby room leader, Lead baby room practitioner, Play leader.

Early years support worker, Higher level teaching and learning assistant, Early years foundation Stage lead or coordinator.

Pastoral care manager, Pastoral assistant, Education welfare officer.

Specialist practitioner in child development (health), Community nursery nurse, Health play specialist, Hospital play worker.

What is covered?


During the programme you will be taught and assessed on the following knowledge, skills and behaviours.  Teaching is delivered through monthly two-hour long workshops, supported with regular 1:1 coaching, self-led learning and assessments.


K1: Ethical and rights-based approaches to support the child, listening to the child’s authentic voice within their social and cultural context enabling advocacy for the child and their individual journey, developing high quality childcare environments that are continuously evaluated.

K2: How individual children learn and develop from conception to 8 years in relation to typical and atypical neurological, cognitive, social, emotional, behavioural, communication and physical development within the social, cultural context and the impact of this on their future.

K3: Factors that have an impact upon health, well-being and early learning that can affect children from conception to 8 years.

K4: Current and contemporary schools of thought to enable respectful and nurturing personal care.

K5: Local and national child protection and safeguarding policies and procedures in practice, identifying when a child is at risk, and how to challenge in order to protect them. This includes understanding the role of the designated lead for safeguarding and assimilating findings of serious case reviews.

K6: Theories of self-regulation, resilience and well-being and the impact of adverse early childhood experiences.

K7: Current and emerging theories of attachment and how these relate to promoting relationships effectively such as the key person approach.

K8: The importance of the social cultural context on the learning and development of the child and the influence parents, families and carers have within the home learning environment and the complexities of the family situation.

K9: The importance of play and the theoretical perspectives of play and its impact on a child’s learning and development.

K10: How to stimulate children’s creativity and curiosity and why and how this enables enquiry based active learning.

K11: A wide range of underpinning theories from physiological, neurological, developmental and education and how these can be incorporated to develop own pedagogy.

K12: Current and contemporary approaches in the development of emergent literacy and numeracy skills such as synthetic phonics.

K13: How planning cycles inform and improve practice and the principles of individual needs-based assessment for effective early intervention for all children responsive to typical and atypical needs and development.

K14: Potential effects of transitions and schools of thought on how to successfully support children and their families.

K15: The importance of enabling environments and the impact of opportunities, resources and relationships on learning and development.

K16: How to promote inclusion, equality and diversity in the sector and why it is essential.

K17: Current and contemporary theoretical perspectives and approaches to leadership and how to support others through leaderful practice.

K18: Principles of reflection in influencing early years practice with a commitment to life-long learning including continual professional development and action research.

K19: How to maintain accurate and coherent records and reports for the purpose of sharing information and communicate effectively in both oral and written English.

K20: The current and relevant policy, statutory guidance and legal requirements as appropriate to the sector within; local, national, historical and global contexts.

K21: Strategies to effect collaborative approaches to working with parents, professional bodies and multi agencies.


S1: Analyse and articulate how all children’s individual learning can be affected by their current developmental capabilities, characteristics and individual circumstances taking into account all factors contributing to typical and atypical development.

S2: Promote equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice.

S3: Observe, assess, plan, facilitate and participate in play opportunities which include current curriculum requirements.

S4: Ensure plans fully reflect the individual development needs and circumstances of children and actively participate in the provision of consistent care, responding quickly to the needs of the individual child.

S5: Provide a dynamic, evolving and enabling environment that reflects the current interests, motivations, and play of individual and groups of children.

S6: Encourage all children’s participation, ensuring a sensitive, respectful and effective balance within the adult and child dynamic to facilitate play opportunities.

S7: Engage in effective strategies to develop and extend children’s learning and thinking, including sustained shared thinking.

S8: Support and promote children’s speech, language and communication development and determining and adapting appropriate responses and interventions.

S9: Support children to engage in a range of learning contexts such as individual, small groups and larger groups as appropriate for their play and support confidence within social experiences.

S10: Ensure staff are deployed effectively to suit and enhance the learning environment, prioritising the safety and wellbeing of all children.

S11: Advocate for the child, cultivating professional partnerships with parents/carers and other professionals, presenting their understanding of the child’s journey within multidisciplinary teams to holistically support the child’s individual needs.

S12: Demonstrate the importance of the home learning environment, developing an effective and collaborative partnership to enhance opportunities for the child.

S13: Make use of formative and summative assessment, tracking children’s progress to plan for future learning possibilities including early interventions based on individual developmental needs.

S14: Take responsibility for supporting the key person in articulating children’s progress and planning future learning possibilities.

S15: Use current and contemporary knowledge, research, theories and approaches to develop, enhance and articulate their own pedagogical approach and practice.

S16: Use reflection to develop themselves both professionally and personally to enhance their practice.

S17: Plan, carry out and guide appropriate physical care routines for individual children.

S18: Promote, model and support children and families to develop a healthy approach to making choices relating to personal care including eating, sleeping and physical activity.

S19: Develop, model and implement strategies to support the emotional, psychological, physical and cultural needs of all children within the setting.

S20: Identify and act upon own responsibilities in relation to health and safety, prevention and control of infection, carrying out risk assessments and risk management processes in line with policies and procedures.

S21: Ensure the security and confidentiality of data, records and information in line with current legislation.

S22: Be a leaderful practitioner to support, mentor, coach, train and guide colleagues in a range of settings, providing inspiration and motivation to engage others to develop their practice.

S23: Be confident to identify, action and competently challenge issues and undertake difficult conversations where appropriate.

S24: Advocate for children through their child centred approach, listening to the voice of the child; ensuring children’s rights, views and wishes are heard, respected and acted upon at all times. Offer appropriate support and influence decisions in the best interests of the child.

S25: Competently action and carry out safeguarding procedures, using their professional curiosity, knowledge, insight and understanding.

S26: Explore and understand, challenge and question; knowing when to act to safeguard and protect children.


B1: Ethical, fair, consistent and impartial, valuing equality and diversity at all times within professional boundaries.

B2: Leaderful and motivating through consistent modelling of innovative and aspirational practice to other colleagues.

B3: Person centred, friendly and approachable, demonstrating caring, empathetic and respectful qualities.

B4: Authentic and fun, demonstrating playful practice through animated and expressive play and quality interactions with children.

B5: Positive and proactive member of the team, being assertive and exercising diplomacy.

B6: Reflective practitioner.

B7: Creative and imaginative, demonstrating curiosity and inquisitiveness in order to be resourceful in all areas, including play and problem solving.

B8: Flexible and adaptable; responding to children’s spontaneous activities.

B9: Receptive and open to challenge and constructive criticism.



with Government funding of 95%  (non levy employers/SMEs)


full cost for levy payers

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