Your feedback is important to us
Please take two minutes at the end of your visit to help us improve our information and services.
Skip to content The Open University
    An undergraduate qualification .

Certificate in Early Years Practice

On this page


Please note that this certificate is only available until 31 July 2014. In order to claim this qualification, you must have completed the required 60 credits by this time.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for this qualification please contact the Centre for Qualifications and Ceremonies on +44(0) 1908 653003 or by email.

If you work with young children aged from birth to seven years and want to develop your practice, this certificate could be what you’re looking for. It will develop your knowledge and understanding of early years provision and help you to reflect on your practice across a range of public, private, voluntary and independent settings. You'll consider your work in relation to young children and other adults (including colleagues, other professionals, parents and carers). You’ll also explore how children learn, and the impact your practice can have on their development. The Certificate in Early Years Practice is included in the Early Years Qualifications list for those delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Fees and facts

Where will you be resident whilst you study?

If your country isn’t shown here, please visit our website for international students.

Fee: Choose country above to see fee and ways to pay.
Study method: Flexible, part-time study through distance learning.
Type of qualification: OU Certificate
OU Certificate

OU Certificates are specially designed Open University qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession, or academic study. For example The Open University's Certificate in Supporting Learning in Primary Schools is designed for teaching assistants and other kinds of classroom support staff, including volunteers. Not all OU Certificates are entry level qualifications.

You can use an OU Certificate to:

  • enhance or progress your current career
  • gain a greater knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in.
Code: S05

Entry requirements

Due to Tuition Fee Loan regulations students in England are only eligible to apply for funding if the qualification you are studying is higher than any you already hold. If you use a fee loan to pay tuition fees for S05 you will subsequently not be eligible for funding to study for the Certificate of Higher Education in Early Years Professional Practice (T19). For more information it is recommended you speak to our Student Registration & Enquiry Service or call +44(0) 845 300 60 90.

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
  • over the age of 18 years at the date on which you begin studying for this qualification
  • 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 (Foundation Stage or Key Stage 1 or equivalent) 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 confirm their support for your study, verify your experience and whether you meet the pre-requisites to study the core modules by completing a Permission Agreement Form.

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 criminal record clearance.

If you are a Nanny/Foster Carer working with a child (birth to six years), you must be able to undertake 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.

If you meet these entry requirements and wish to apply for this qualification please email our Student Registration & Enquiry Service or call +44(0) 845 300 60 90.

Career relevance and employability

The certificate is included in the Early Years Qualifications List for those delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage. It also has qualified status for classroom assistants in Northern Ireland, is included in the list of approved qualifications for support workers in day care of children’s services settings in Scotland, and is included in the list of Accepted Qualifications for Early Years and Childcare Workforce in Wales.

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

There’s more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Register your interest

For academic year 2014/15, registration opens on 30/04/2014. If you would like to be kept updated, you can register your interest now.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

You cannot count credit for study you have already completed elsewhere towards this qualification.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

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

Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

On completion

On successful completion of the required module you will be awarded a Certificate in Early Years Practice.


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.

If you have a disability

Choosing the qualification that’s right for you is very important. Depending on your disability, long-term health condition, mental health disability or specific learning difficulty, you may need to consider any challenges posed by:

  • the learning objectives: for example, to gain an honours degree in a language you must be physically able to speak the language
  • how the modules are taught: for example, some of our science qualifications require that you complete laboratory work
  • any work-based competency requirements.

Choosing the right qualification can be a complex mix of the subject requirements and the support you may need. To help you assess whether the qualification you are interested in will work for you, further advice is available from:

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study for this qualification. For most OU qualifications a Microsoft Windows (new since 2007), Apple Mac (OS X 10.6 or later) or Linux computer should be adequate. However, some qualifications require more specific IT equipment, in which case you will need additional software to use an Apple Mac or Linux computer. A detailed technical specification for your modules will be made available when you register. Please note, technical specifications do change over time to match computer developments and the way we teach.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.

Your questions

Try our frequently asked questions.

Come and meet us at an event near you.

Or contact an adviser by Email or call +44(0) 845 300 60 90 +44(0) 845 366 60 35

Employers' questions

Contact Corporate Enquiries
Visit our website for employers or Email us