Overview of the role

Working directly with children, skilfully leading day to day practice.

Details of standard

Occupation summary

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 broad purpose of the occupation is to be a proactive and influential practitioner, working directly with children, skilfully leading day to day practice at an operational level. As active practitioners they are effective role models of play based learning, supporting others to develop their own practice. They are highly skilled professionals who take an operational lead for the care, learning and development of all young children within their care, adapting to individual needs providing inclusive and holistic provision. They engage with sector developments both locally and nationally, with a commitment to developing their own professional and educational competencies.. In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with children aged birth to eight years, families, practitioners, other professionals and appropriate agencies. An employee in this occupation will be responsible for supporting the quality of learning and development in their setting. They lead on the operational aspects of this provision and are 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).

Typical job titles include:

Assistant manager Baby room leader Deputy manager Early years coordinator Early years foundation stage lead or coordinator Early years officer Early years practitioner Early years support worker Education welfare officer Health play specialist Higher level teaching and learning assistant Hospital play worker Key worker Lead baby room practitioner Lead practitioner Nursery officer Pastoral assistant Pastoral care manager Play leader Pre-school leader Room leader Senior key worker Senior practitioner Specialist practitioner in child development (health), community nursery nurse

Entry requirements

Undertake the Disclosure and Barring Service process and provide the result

Occupation duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 1 Promote the health and well-being of all children, self-regulation and resilience through learning rich environments, opportunities for challenging play and a healthy attitude towards risk taking.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K6 K7 K8 K9 K11 K14 K15 K16 K17 K18 K19 K20 K21

S1 S2 S4 S6 S10 S15 S16 S17 S18 S19 S21 S22 S23

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B8

Duty 2 Provide playful, sensitive interaction opportunities that reflect children's needs, interests and motivations in order to facilitate and extend deep level learning.

K1 K2 K3 K7 K8 K9 K10 K11 K12 K13 K14 K15 K17 K18 K19

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 S9 S10 S12 S13 S14 S15 S18 S23

B1 B3 B4 B6 B7 B8

Duty 3 Participate in and lead daily routines and practice, including childrens’ personal care, play and maintaining the physical environment.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K7 K9 K10 K11 K15 K17 K20

S3 S4 S6 S7 S8 S9 S10 S17 S19 S23

B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8

Duty 4 To be an effective key person and advocate for the child, supporting the child’s developmental, emotional and daily needs within a secure and caring relationship. To ensure the effectiveness of the key person approach across the aspect or environment for which they are responsible.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K6 K7 K8 K9 K10 K11 K12 K13 K14 K15 K16 K17 K19 K20 K21

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 S9 S10 S11 S12 S15 S16 S17 S18 S19 S20 S21 S22 S23 S25

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 5 To take the lead and provide support in disseminating best practice in the use of observation, assessments and planning to meet children's needs and extend their holistic development within the aspect or environment for which they are responsible.

K1 K2 K3 K6 K7 K8 K9 K10 K11 K12 K13 K15 K18 K19 K21

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 S9 S12 S13 S14 S15 S16 S18 S20 S23

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 6 Promote, demonstrate and facilitate a clear understanding of diversity and equality to support all children, including those with additional needs, those of high ability, those with English as an additional language and those with disabilities. To be able to use and evaluate distinctive approaches which engage and support inclusivity of all children within their social and cultural context.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K11 K13 K14 K15 K16 K17 K18 K19 K20 K21

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S8 S10 S11 S12 S13 S15 S16 S18 S19 S20 S21 S22 S23 S25

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 7 Ensure full compliance with all safeguarding legislation, policies and strategies at a national, local and setting based level are promoted, implemented and embedded respectfully within practice, providing appropriate support to colleagues as, or supporting, the Designated Safeguarding Lead.

K1 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K16 K17 K18 K19 K20 K21

S2 S10 S11 S16 S18 S20 S21 S22 S23 S24 S25

B1 B2 B3 B5 B6 B9

Duty 8 Demonstrate leaderful practice through the effective deployment of resources and practitioners keeping the child’s voice and needs central to practice.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K8 K9 K10 K11 K12 K13 K15 K16 K17 K18 K19

S2 S3 S5 S10 S14 S15 S17 S18 S21 S22 S23 S25

B1 B2 B3 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 9 Reflect and build on practice through ongoing professional enquiry and action research to contribute to the pedagogical approach of their setting. To be accountable for day to day practice, longer term planning, management and training within the specific aspect or environment for which they are responsible.

K2 K3 K4 K6 K7 K8 K9 K10 K11 K12 K13 K15 K16 K17 K18

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S9 S10 S14 S15 S18 S19 S21 S23

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 10 Establish engaging, inclusive and collaborative relationships and participate in multiagency meetings. Enable and facilitate practitioners to develop professional relationships with parents, carers and multi-agencies to meet the individual needs of the children.

K1 K2 K3 K5 K7 K8 K14 K15 K16 K17 K18 K19

S2 S4 S11 S13 S17 S18 S20 S21 S22 S23 S24 S25

B1 B2 B3 B5 B6 B9

Duty 11 Commit to becoming a reflective practitioner, enhancing skills and knowledge to improve pedagogical practice. Guide and support the development of the reflective practice of others.

K1 K3 K4 K5 K7 K9 K10 K11 K13 K17 K18 K19 K20

S14 S15 S21

B1 B2 B5 B6 B9

Duty 12 Initiate continuing professional development opportunities in response to identification of strengths and weaknesses both personally and within your team. Provide constructive feedback on points of practice on an informal day to day basis and contribute to formal performance management as necessary.

K11 K17 K18 K19 K20

S15 S16 S21 S22 S23

B2 B3 B5 B6 B9

Duty 13 Ensure compliance with all Health and Safety legislation, policies and strategies at a national, local and setting based level.

K10 K15 K16 K19 K20

S2 S5 S10 S17 S19

B1 B5

Duty 14 Maintain effective administrative systems including development records, assessment, report writing and record keeping, such as risk assessments and safeguarding concerns.

K1 K2 K3 K5 K8 K11 K12 K13 K14 K16 K19 K20 K21

S1 S3 S4 S11 S12 S13 S16 S18 S19 S20 S23 S24

B1 B5 B6

Duty 15 Work in collaborative partnership with parents and carers in the planning, implementation and review of strategies in place to support children's experience, holistic development, learning and progress.

K2 K3 K4 K7 K8 K10 K13 K14 K15 K16 K21

S1 S4 S5 S6 S8 S9 S11 S12 S14 S18 S19 S23 S24 S25 S26

B1 B3 B4 B7 B8 B9

Duty 16 To lead and manage across the area, aspect or environment for which they are responsible for.

K1 K2 K5 K7 K16 K17 K19 K20 K21

S2 S4 S10 S11 S13 S14 S15 S16 S18 S20 S21 S22 S23 S24 S25 S26

B1 B2 B3 B5 B6 B8 B9



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. Back to Duty

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. Back to Duty

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

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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

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

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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

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

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

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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


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. Back to Duty

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

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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

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

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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

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

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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. Back to Duty

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

B6: Reflective practitioner. Back to Duty

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

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

B9: Receptive and open to challenge and constructive criticism. Back to Duty


English and Maths

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

Professional recognition

This standard aligns with the following professional recognition:

  • Criteria for Level 3 Early Years qualifications for Early Years Educator

Additional details

Occupational Level:


Duration (months):



This apprenticeship standard will be reviewed after three years

Status: Approved for delivery
Level: 5
Reference: ST0551
Version: 1.0
Date updated: 25/04/2022
Approved for delivery: 10 August 2021
Route: Education and early years
Typical duration to gateway: 24 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £8000
LARS Code: 655
EQA Provider: Ofqual

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Contact us about this apprenticeship

Employers involved in creating the standard: Little Explorers Playgroup, Our Monkey Club, Pen Green Children's Centre, Places for Children Ltd, Lilliput Montessori Day Nursery(s), Kids Planet Day Nurseries , Market Harborough Montessori Nursery, Wolds Childcare Ltd, Best Start Nurseries, School's Out, Rothley C of E Primary School, Charnwood Nursery and Pre-School

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.0 Approved for delivery 10/08/2021 Not set Not set

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