University's Early Years Teacher course first to receive Ofsted outstanding

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Sheffield Hallam University’s (SHU) early years initial teacher training (EYITT) programme is the first in the country to be rated outstanding by Ofsted.


EYITT students learning how to play the steelpans to children

SHU is one of 41 approved Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) providers across the country.

The University’s Early Childhood Education and Care (0-5) with Early Years Teacher Status course, was inspected last year for the first time since becoming part of initial teacher training.

Inspectors rated the one-year course, which is open to those already employed in early years settings as a part-time option and a full-time route for graduates new to the sector, outstanding across all areas.

In the Ofsted report, the inspector praised the university’s quality of training and trainees’ outcomes, saying tutors deliver ‘coherent and well-structured training’.

The inspector said, ‘The overall effectiveness of the partnership is outstanding. The programme leader’s passion for early years, and that of members of the management committee and trainers, rub off on the trainees, who are keen to do well. Outstanding leadership, underpinned by a drive to train the best early years teachers, has established a highly effective programme and partnership.’

The report also stated that the university’s partnership with early years settings and schools is ‘contributing significantly’ to raising the status of the local early years workforce. The partnership has gained a reputation for training high-calibre practitioners. As one employer said, 'It is so difficult to recruit good people. I am delighted to have such as well-trained and highly professional teacher.'

The university's head of Early Years Education Sally Pearse (pictured), said, ‘Ours is the first course in the country to be awarded outstanding since EYTS became part of Initial Teacher Education in 2014.sally-pearse

‘SHU has been committed to the graduate-led workforce since the inception of EYPS in 2007 and this is the culmination of a decade of work to support and develop our early years practitioners and provide training and development opportunities.

‘We have a strong team here and see ourselves as part of the early years community. We are a partnership with schools and settings and run a quality network for settings in partnership with Early Education, which is free.’

She added, ‘The course changes people’s lives. We have trainees who have realised their ambitions to become room leaders, nursery teachers, reception teachers.

‘Our current trainees are a fascinating group who come from a wide range of cultural and work backgrounds including training in languages in Poland, being a lawyer, being a healthy food advisor and an au pair in France. Some have already been offered jobs this year, one in a totally outdoor kindergarten and another as the Reception teacher in the school where she has just completed her placement.’

Currently there are 20 students on the University’s Early Childhood Education and Care with Early Years Teacher Status course.

One trainee on the employed pathway said, ‘I always intended to do teacher training. I am passionate about early years and currently work in a reception class. The EYTFS course incentives enabled me to continue working while I train and it is completely funded.

‘I trained as a nursery nurse in 1996 and I have worked in a private nursery and several independent schools.

‘The course has given me considerable knowledge and understanding to support children’s learning and development. As a result of the vast teaching programme at Sheffield Hallam University I have developed my own pedagogical styles and put many elements of the taught programme into practice on placement.’

Another trainee, who is on the entry route, said of the course, ‘I feel I know an awful lot more child development now.'

One trainee on the employment route, who previously worked as a healthy lifestyle lead in a community nursery, said the course had raised her 'aspirations and developed my confidence in my knowledge, abilities and understanding of supporting young children. I understand how to support their learning through play-based exploration and have the confidence to justify this approach as one which supports children’s development and understanding.’

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