Early Years Lead Practitioner Apprenticeship

Level 5 Early Years Lead Practitioner Apprenticeship
two young children playing
What is an Early years lead?

An Early Years Lead Practitioner Apprenticeship prepares individuals to be proactive and influential practitioners, working directly with children in various settings like nurseries, schools, hospitals, and social care environments.

These skilled professionals lead day-to-day practices, exemplifying play-based learning and supporting others to enhance their own approach.

They take operational responsibility for the care, learning, and development of young children, offering inclusive and holistic provision.

The role involves interacting with children aged birth to eight years, families, practitioners, and other professionals, taking charge of the quality of learning and development in their setting and leading other practitioners or specific aspects of provision.

They report to the head of the setting directly.

The primary duties we cover on this apprenticeship...
  • 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
  • Provide playful, sensitive interaction opportunities that reflect children’s needs, interests and motivations in order to facilitate and extend deep level learning
  • Participate in and lead daily routines and practice, including children’s personal care, play and maintaining the physical environment
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 the practice, providing appropriate support to colleagues as, or supporting, the Designated Safeguarding Lead
  • Demonstrate leaderful practice through the effective deployment of resources and practitioners keeping the child’s voice and needs central to practice
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Initiate continuing professional development opportunities in response to the 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
  • Ensure compliance with all Health and Safety legislation, policies and strategies at a national, local and setting-based level
  • Maintain effective administrative systems including development records, assessment, report writing and record keeping, such as risk assessments and safeguarding concerns
  • 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
  • To lead and manage across the area, aspect or environment for which they are responsible for
Apprentices will benefit from:

Earn a wage, whilst studying a fantastic course

Gaining experience in a fast-paced & competitive industry

No learning costs for the Apprentice


Potential career paths of Early Years Lead Apprentices…

  • Assistant manager 
  • Lead practitioner 
  • Pastoral care manager 
  • Play leader 
  • Room leader 
  • Senior key worker 
  • Senior practitioner 
  • Specialist practitioner in child development (health), community nursery nurse
more Information

This Apprenticeships typically takes 24 months to complete

English & 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
Knowledge, Skills & Behaviour



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.


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