Anglia Ruskin University VLE

FdA Early Years, Playwork and Education


Course overview

This Foundation degree provides those who are already working with young children with an opportunity to develop professional understanding, knowledge, and key skills while still working. The course will enable Early Years practitioners, teaching assistants and play workers access to a higher-level qualification which can potentially lead to Qualified Teacher Status.

This degree will appeal to you if you have an interest in young children's learning and development. You will explore young children's physical, social, emotional and cognitive development and current policies and practices, using examples drawn from the UK and elsewhere.

The focus is very much on gaining the vocational skills required to succeed within Early Years, Playwork and Education contexts, and on giving you the skills required to continue to develop in order to meet the demands of a fast-changing environment.

Additional course information

On successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of principles and practice underpinning the integrated approach to the widening children's workforce and how they have developed, as set out by the Children's Workforce Development Council
  • Demonstrate understanding of Early Years, Playwork and Education, play and school based value and belief systems, including those relating to anti-discriminatory practice, equality of opportunity and safeguarding
  • Plan, develop, implement and evaluate the curriculum and pedagogy for children and young people, including those with special needs
  • Evaluate and discuss roles, norms and cultural aspects relating to the role of the family and the adult (including the student's own professional role) in children's and young people's development and learning
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current and emerging theories and principles relating to the development of children and young people, the links with play and its value in development
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the integrated nature of the Children's Workforce and how that impacts on a range of professional roles and service provision.

The course runs from September to December and January to May.

Online learning includes; online discussions, tasks and independent research to support the content of the modules. This online involvement would require 20-30 hours participation per week. You will work individually and with your colleagues in discussion and sharing good practice.

The emphasis is on work-based learning and will concentrate on supporting the underpinning activities you undertake in your workplace. You will be supported by your tutor and colleagues.

Course detail

Core modules

Level 1 Core Modules

  • Learning and Skill Development for HE and Work

    Foundation Degree Students entering Higher Education will need specific study skills to enable them to maximise their learning potential and take advantage of opportunities available both in the academic setting and the workplace. The module is intended to be both preparatory and supportive - building a strong foundation for learning and later development.

  • The Development of the Individual

    This module will explore the growth and development of the whole child in interaction with his / her environment. Students will consider features of different aspects of child development, from birth to early adolescence, using a range of theories and perspectives and consider this as a foundation for lifelong learning.

  • Understanding the Work Sector

    This module is intended to allow students to explore the impact of social and economic factors on the work sector and consider the legal and ethical frameworks informing their practice.

  • Research 1: An introduction

    This introductory module aims to provide students with a basic understanding of the research process. The qualitative and quantitative research paradigms will be discussed as well as a variety of methods used by researchers.

  • Work-Based Learning 1

    In this module, students are expected to demonstrate a degree of autonomy in the management of their learning. They will analyse and evaluate relevant theoretical underpinning and interpret information and evaluate argument.

  • Differences and Diversity

    This module introduces a key ethical approach to the children?s workforce which learners need to incorporate into their thinking if they are to be successful contributors to any setting offering services to children and young people. Disability, differences and special educational needs will be explored in relation to the debates on inclusion and exclusion, needs and rights, and the importance of seeing every child as an individual.

Level 2 Core Modules

  • Work Based Learning 2

    Students will be encouraged to continue their exploration of their professional/ occupational practice, along the strands developed previously, as a source of learning. Students will be expected to demonstrate a greater degree of autonomy in management of their learning and demonstrate a more detailed knowledge of relevant theoretical underpinning and be able to analyse and evaluate both information and argument.

  • Safeguarding Children and Young People

    This module will enable students to develop an informed understanding of the complexities inherent both past and present, in the notions of abuse, protection and prevention. Through engagement with a relevant and diverse literature, students will develop their awareness of their challenges presented by incidences of actual or suspected abuse, as expressed in existing legislation and policy frameworks.

  • Working with Young Children and Families

    This module will enable students to develop knowledge and understanding of working in a professional capacity with children and their parents/carers. Central to this module is the development of students' ability to apply relevant theory / models to the complexities of real situations.

Optional modules

  • Holistic Approaches to Infant Development

    This module focuses on the holistic approach to development and learning opportunities for children 0-8, with particular attention to age-related issues and curricula such as the promotion of cognitive, social and emotional development through play and learning in the early years environment.

  • Planning to Play

    This module focuses on the promotion of the holistic development of children and young people through play. You will be expected to engage with planning, implementation and evaluation in your setting. It is centred on the understanding that play is central to the needs of children and young people.

  • Exploring Curriculum: Principles and Practice

    This module explores key concepts and questions relating to why, where, how and what children are taught in formal and informal educational contexts. Different theories, models and frameworks of curricula will be examined and discussed and their implications for children's experiential learning throughout childhood will be considered.

  • Managing Playwork/ Childcare Practices

    This module is specifically designed for practitioners who manage/ supervise children's and young people's settings or those who aim to do so. It will enable the student to examine a range of management issues pertaining to theories of change management, staff development, legal/ political issues and management systems.

  • Areas of Learning: Language, Literacy and Mathematics

    This module will enable students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the characteristics of development as children acquire concepts, skills and attitudes in language, literacy and mathematics and to know how to plan for an appropriate and effective learning environment.

  • Independent Learning Module

    This module provides you with the opportunity to broaden or deepen your understanding of a given relevant topic through undertaking a programme of negotiated learning.


There are no formal written examinations. Each module will be assessed using methods such as short presentations, assignments, reflections on observations or work-based tasks. A mentoring programme and regular tutorial opportunities will support you in the course work.


You will have access to Anglia Ruskin University's extensive digital library. This means that you can download all the learning materials you need, enabling you to study whenever and wherever suits you. You will also be able to visit our on-site libraries in Cambridge and Chelmsford.


This award will equip you for a career in childcare and education as a senior practitioner. It is a nationally recognised award for Early Years practitioners offering progression routes onto an Honours degree.

Links with industry and professional recognition

This Foundation degree carried the prestigious sector endorsement issued by The Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC). This status confirms both its relevance to practitioners and its quality.

Career Advice

Here at Anglia Ruskin we pride ourselves on our employability outcomes. We want to provide you with an outstanding course and outstanding career prospects.  That’s why our Employability and Careers team are on hand to help. 

As a distance learning student, it doesn’t matter how remote you are, you can still benefit from help and advice on CV writing, interview techniques, job hunting, and general careers guidance. 

To find out more please visit our careers advice page.

Entry requirements

Prior experience in childcare. Appropriate Level 3 Childcare Qualification. Potential for successful study at HE level. Commitment to study and work in the sector. Commitment to the work experience component. Current CRB check from your employer. GCSE(s) Required: Level 2, English, GCE, GCSE, CSE Grade 1 or C, or Level 2 Adult Literacy.

Anglia Ruskin University VLE