If you think you’ve got what it takes to inspire, excite and nurture children through a crucial stage of their development, consider becoming an early years teacher (EYT).
As an EYT, you’ll work with children aged 0-5 in various settings such as nurseries, preschools and reception classes. It’s important that the activities you plan and carry out meet the requirements of the early years foundation stage (EYFS).
Your aim is to motivate children and imaginatively use resources to help them learn. You’ll provide a safe and secure environment for them to develop their social and communication skills while recording observations and summarising their achievements.
You should be focused on the development of the child to prepare them for a successful transition to primary school.
As an early years teacher, you’ll be concerned with helping children to achieve early learning goals. You’ll need to:
- Motivate and stimulate a child’s learning abilities, often encouraging learning through experience
- Provide pastoral care and support to children and give them a secure learning environment
- Assist with the development of a child’s personal, social, language and physical coordination abilities
- Develop and produce visual aids and teaching resources
- Encourage mathematical and creative development through stories, songs, games, drawing and imaginative play
- Help children develop curiosity and knowledge
- Work with others, including teaching assistants and nursery nurses as well as volunteer helpers, to plan and coordinate work both indoors and outdoors
- Share knowledge gained with other practitioners and build and maintain relationships with parents
- observe, assess and record each child’s progress
- Ensure the health and safety of children and staff is maintained during all activities, both inside and outside the nursery or school
- Keep up to date with changes in the curriculum and developments in best practice.
- Pay and conditions are set by individual employers, so will vary depending on the setting in which you work.
- Starting salaries will be in the region of £16,000 to £18,000.
- After gaining experience and expertise, you may be able to achieve salaries of £22,000 to £30,000. Roles in this bracket will often include supervisory or management duties.
- Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Hours vary depending on your setting. Nurseries can be open from 7.30am until 6.30pm, so it’s likely you’ll need to cover shifts within that period. A typical school day runs from 9 am to 3.30pm, but if you’re working in a school you’ll start earlier than 9 am to prepare and set up activities for the day.
Extra hours may be required for staff meetings, inspections and parent consultations.
Part-time, temporary work and career break opportunities are available. Job shares are also possible.
What to expect
- You will work as part of a team with other childcare professionals, particularly nursery nurses. The paperwork involved in the job can often mean some evening and weekend work at home.
- Self-employment or freelance work is sometimes possible as a supply teacher or as a freelance early years consultant.
- The constant need for energy, ideas and creativity, as well as the necessary paperwork, can affect your home life, as can activities outside of work hours.
- Travel within the working day is rare, except to attend occasional home visits. Absences from home overnight and overseas work or travel are unlikely.
To become an early years teacher, you will need to gain early years teacher status (EYTS). To gain EYTS, you will need to complete the early years of initial teacher training (ITT) course.
There are several training routes available:
- Undergraduate entry– a full-time degree in an early childhood-related subject, taking three to four years to complete and leading to EYTS.
- Graduate entry– typically a year of full-time study for those with an undergraduate degree but limited experience of working with children. Example qualifications are the PGCE Early Years and the PG Cert Early Years, both giving EYTS.
- Graduate employment-based– a part-time route taking one year to complete, for graduates who work in early years setting but need further training to show they meet the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years).
- School Direct (Early Years) graduate entry– training is provided by a group of schools or nurseries, in return for your employment once you have successfully gained EYTS.
- Assessment only– this self-funded route is ideal for graduates with experience of working with children from birth to age five, who meet the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) with no need for further training. This assessment usually takes three months to complete.
For teaching roles, you will need to show:
- Respect and fondness for children
- Excellent communication and listening skills
- Good organisational skills to plan the children’s day and respond to children’s different needs
- The ability to inspire and enthuse young children
- Energy, resourcefulness, responsibility, patience and a caring nature
- An understanding of the needs and feelings of children
- Ability to work independently with children, as well as being able to work in the wider nursery/school team
- A sense of humour and the ability to keep things in perspective.
You’ll also need the stamina to keep up with the needs and energy of a large group of young, lively children. Creative skills such as music, dance, drama, arts and crafts are advantageous.
Pre-entry work experience with children of a relevant age is typically required by course providers and it’s often preferred that you’ve undertaken this in a school or nursery environment.
Other relevant experience includes volunteering at a local playgroup or playscheme or work that shows you’ve provided care and supported development. It’s a good idea to visit nurseries and schools to observe and talk to early years teachers.
As an early years teacher, you can find work in:
- Maintained and independent nurseries
- Academies, free schools and independent schools in the reception classes
- Children centres
- Early excellence centres.
Jobs for early years teachers may be limited in some nurseries as it is not a requirement to have EYTS to work in that setting. This means lower-paid positions, such as nursery nurses and non-graduate roles, may be more readily available.
It’s not possible to work in maintained schools as an early years teacher as to do this you’d be expected to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which requires further training.
Look for job vacancies at:
- Nursery World Jobs
- Times Educational Supplement Jobs
Teacher recruitment agencies, such as Protocol Education, feature opportunities for early years teachers.
It is worth contacting the careers service at the institution where you gained your EYTS to see if they have details of any relevant vacancies or if they have contacts for potential employers.
As an early years teacher, you’ll need to consistently make sure that your knowledge and skills relating to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) are up to date. The EYFS sets out the requirements for children’s learning and development, their early learning goals, assessments, safeguarding and welfare.
You need to make sure your work as an early years teacher covers this. Continuing professional development (CPD) while you’re working can help.
Certain organisations provide CPD opportunities as well as additional benefits to members such as:
- Webinars and training
- Relevant publications
- Access to early years resources
- Events and conferences on early years themes
- Help with career progression
Relevant organisations include:
- National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA)
- Pre-school Learning Alliance
- Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY)
- It’s likely that the nursery or school in which you work will also deliver training on a regular basis.
Once you have gained experience as an early years teacher, you may decide to move into more advanced roles, such as those at the management level. This could include staff supervisory work or managing a nursery or group of nurseries. Courses in business management and leadership skills will help with this.
It’s also possible to specialise in certain areas, such as special educational needs (SEN), but to do so you’ll be required to hold additional qualifications and experience.
If you want to begin teaching in a maintained school or would like to teach older children (from age 5 upwards), you’ll need to gain further qualifications in order to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Different training routes are available, with many graduate options taking one year to complete.
It is generally up to you to take responsibility for your own development, although this is normally discussed with your immediate line manager at annual performance appraisals.
You could also choose to move into other areas such as working as an inspector for Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), as a local authority early years advisory teacher or inspector or delivering teacher training.
Teaching Jobs: Where to Find Them and When to Apply
Get to grips with local authority registration schemes, pool applications and the other approaches schools use to recruit newly qualified teachers.
It’s a good idea to find out the recruitment approaches for specific schools or local authorities (LAs) well ahead of the time of application. Schools recruit teachers in a variety of ways, including direct advertisements, through recruitment agencies and, in some areas of the country, through local authority (LA) registration schemes with a pool application.
The five main ways of applying for a teaching job in a school
The five main ways of applying for a teaching job are:
- Specific vacancies: Schools recruit directly through their own advertisements and selection procedures. Advertisements for teaching posts start in January, and the peak time is between February and June. This is how most schools recruit for teaching posts.
- Teacher registration schemes and databases: You register an interest to work for a school within a particular LA area and complete a single application form. Your application is then sent to schools with opportunities that meet your criteria. Registrations may open in the autumn; check with your LA for dates.
- Pool applications: These are similar to registration schemes, but in addition to the central application form, you may also complete the selection process centrally. Schools can then select applicants to interview from the available, approved list. Most pool applications are for primary opportunities. Dates for applications vary so check with the relevant LA for dates.
- Speculative applications: These are also made directly to the school. You will probably be more successful if you already have contacts at the school.
- Agencies: Increasing numbers of teaching applications are handled by agencies, including those for permanent NQT posts. Registration with an agency will usually involve submitting an application form or CV followed by a meeting with a recruitment agency.
Finding out about teaching vacancies from local authorities (LAs)
- Teacher recruitment via LAs varies throughout the UK. Contact LAs directly to check what the current recruitment situation is. It is advisable to register your interest with an LA, to make sure you receive up-to-date information on current opportunities.
- Most LAs advertise their vacancies online and many have teacher recruitment pages for newly qualified teacher (NQT) posts.
- Some LAs issue regular vacancy lists and some have recruitment literature.
- Some LAs hold open days (usually in the spring and for primary teaching only) so applicants can talk to several schools in the area. These provide an opportunity to find out more about schools and their requirements. The day may also include a selection interview. In some LAs, you will only receive an invitation to an open day after submitting an application.
Which newspapers and publications advertise teaching jobs?
- Times Educational Supplement Jobs and Guardian Jobs operate job alert services via email and enable you to upload a CV or create a profile.
- Cultural or religious newspapers. These may carry advertisements for teaching positions, especially in faith-based schools.
Other resources to help you find a teaching job
- School groups which run academies and free schools advertise opportunities through their websites; see TES for a list of groups.
- Recruitment agencies, such as Hays Education, Eteach, CER and FE Jobs, will register NQTs to help find them a permanent, temporary or supply job. There are many other agencies, including regional agencies; see the member directory of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.
- Your university careers service or education department may have an online job board. Your service will also be able to advise on other local sources of opportunities.
- Teaching fairs: These are held nationwide, often within universities. They are attended by local authorities, recruitment agencies, teaching unions and schools.
- Networking: Keep in touch with the schools where you did your practise or worked as a volunteer.
The teacher recruitment timetable: what to do when
- Autumn:research recruitment approaches for LAs and attends university recruitment fairs.
- December/January: LAs advertise pool vacancies and may have closing dates.
- January:schools start directly advertising vacancies.
- Spring term:applications to teacher registration schemes and databases.
- April:many vacancies suitable for NQTs are advertised from this time. Register with websites to receive updates on the latest opportunities.
- 31 May:the final date when teachers leaving their jobs in the summer must resign, so more jobs appear around this time.
- Summer:consider registering with an agency for supply work as your NQT year can be completed through long-term supply contracts.
- Independent and overseas schoolsmay advertise at any stage throughout the year.
Where to find out about teaching jobs in independent schools
Vacancies in independent schools are advertised in similar places to other teaching posts. You can also find useful information about schools in your area from:
The Independent Schools Council (ISC) and Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) will provide information on schools in your area.
Where to find out about jobs for early years teachers
Early years teachers with EYTS may be employed by:
- Private, voluntary and independent nurseries.
- Children’s centres.
- Free schools, academies and independent schools delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage.
- State-funded nurseries or primary schools’ reception classes – working alongside staff with qualified teacher status.
Vacancies for early years teachers can be found at:
- Nursery World Jobs.
- Times Educational Supplement Jobs.
Recruitment agencies, specialising in the education sector, such as Hays Education and Randstad Education, may also have suitable vacancies, offering part-time, full-time, temporary and permanent contracts.
Where to find out about teaching jobs within further education
Further education vacancies can be found in the following sources of information:
FE Jobs, College Jobs, FE Careers and AoC Jobs
Despite having all the experience in the world, the best teacher’s application can be let down by a shoddy CV. We asked some experts how to guarantee your name is on the shortlist.
You might be a whiz with the national curriculum, but how are you with your own curriculum vitae? Selling yourself on two sides of A4 doesn’t come naturally but writing up a good CV is a crucial skill to learn.
Forget fancy fonts, elaborate layouts, and online CV templates that require sophisticated software. The most important thing you should remember when writing your CV is that it should be clear and simple with a great structure. Below are some tips from some of our experts.
Structuring your CV
Make sure your CV has a clear structure so that employers aren’t having to flip the pages to find the info they need. Aim for no more than a two-page CV. Avoid essay style writing, instead try to be concise by summarising key points using punchy, dynamic language.
Never write `CV’ at the top – everyone knows it’s a CV – simply put your name in a slightly larger font than the rest of the document. After your name includes your contact details, followed by a personal statement, your career details, education and finally your out of school interests and achievements.
Font sizes should be the same whether your CV is printed or emailed, with 12pt a good compromise. Stick to Times New Roman for printed CVs as it is easier to read, and a sans serif font like Arial for emailed CVs as this font reads better on screen.
Bold and italics should be used sparingly on a CV; bold for section headings and italics for job titles is a good way of breaking up the text and making it easier to read. Don’t use bold to highlight keywords.
Use of space is as important on your CV as it is in the classroom. Gaping holes with nothing going on will do you no favours, and nor will shoving everything on it. Balance the page so it doesn’t look lopsided, use bullet points where appropriate and use headings to help the reader navigate through the page.
Above all, make sure you’re consistent in bullet style, spacing, font size and design.
Use the right vocabulary
Throughout your CV, good use of vocabulary will help take it from being an average one to an outstanding one.
The most common of these are action verbs (e.g. achieved, accomplished, managed, improved, developed) and positive adjectives (resourceful, versatile, innovative, positive, productive).
This short paragraph between your contact details and work experience is probably the most difficult part of a CV. It’s also the first thing your employer will read so it’s important to get right. This is the part of the CV that makes you sound human and allows you to demonstrate your qualities and motivations rather than just your experience. Take time to write this section well and make sure it flows seamlessly but avoid clichés at all costs.
It needs to summarise three key things; where you are in your career, your key achievements to date and your personal qualities.
The best way to make this paragraph powerful is to make sure every word count – don’t waffle, definitely don’t exaggerate, but do get to the point. Three or four sentences should be enough.
For most people who have been teaching for a number of years, this can amount to a lot of information. It is best to use bullet points to break it up.
State the role, school and dates that you were in post, and give a brief summary of specific teaching responsibilities and achievements in each role.
Making each point achievement-focused will show your employer you had a positive impact and weren’t just doing the bare minimum.
All good teachers show commitment to continuing professional development and employers definitely want to see evidence of this. So, ensure that you provide evidence of further personal or professional training and Inset days as well as your qualifications.
Out of school interests
Employers don’t really want to know about your obsession with astrology or how much you love Manchester United. They would be curious, though, if you had a relevant interest such as a passion for green issues, or an interest in sport as these can be utilised in school. So, think about whether it is worth mentioning your interests.
Most heads are looking for people who will be part of the larger community, and those who have had more than the school-to-university-to-school experience.
It goes without saying that any CV should be checked for errors in spelling, punctuation and other possible errors. So, make sure you do a final check before you submit it. Ask a friend if they can read it through.
This also applies if you’re sending your CV digitally, and you should also remember to name the file with your own name, such as “John_Adams_CV.doc”, and never just “CV.doc”.