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Teacher (nursery/early years): job description

Teacher (nursery/early years): job description

Nursery and early years teachers help to nurture and develop the knowledge, abilities, and social skills of children from three to five years old and to help to prepare them for primary school education.
Early years teaching requires an enthusiastic, imaginative and energetic individual capable of gaining the full potential from each child.

What does a pre-school teacher do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • developing and implementing lessons and work schemes, using the Early Years Foundation Stage as a framework
  • providing a safe and stimulating environment that facilitates learning
  • organising and supervising play and work activities (for example reading, cooking, music, dancing etc)
  • liaising with parents, carers and professionals such as speech therapists and health visitors
  • maintaining records
  • monitoring and recording progress

Early years teaching requires an enthusiastic, imaginative and energetic individual capable of gaining the full potential from each child.

Typical employers of nursery teachers

Early years teachers can be employed in any early years setting, whether state-maintained, voluntary or private, including nursery, infant and primary schools.

Teaching vacancies are advertised online, in newspapers, local authority jobs lists and in publications such as Teaching Appointments, the Times Educational Supplement and Nursery World as well as their online equivalents.

Qualifications and training required

Anyone wishing to become a nursery teacher must gain early years teacher status (EYTS). To do this you can do an early years initial teacher training (EYITT) course, which has several different paths depending on your situation. Graduates can apply for a PGCE (Postgraduate or Professional Graduate Certificate in Education) with an early years specialism. Alternatively, they could apply for a SCITT (School-Centred Initial Teacher Training) programme. The Teach First and School Direct programmes also cover early years education. It is also possible to do an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, which is usually a bachelor of education or a bachelor of arts/science with qualified teacher status (QTS). There is also an assessment-only route for graduates who also have a substantial amount of experience.

All candidates must possess GCSEs (at least grade C) or equivalent in English and maths. Early applications for teacher training places through UCAS Teacher Training are advisable during the first term of your final year. Qualifications related to childcare can also be beneficial. A science or technology background can be helpful, as can extra skills such as music, arts and crafts. Previous experience of working with children is usually essential.

To find out how to get into careers in education via a school leaver route, visit the teaching and education section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for nursery teachers

  • Adaptability
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Responsibility
  • Resourcefulness
  • A good sense of humour
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