Early Years, Playwork and Education FdA

Foundation Degree (3 years)


January & September

Do you want to work with young children? Or maybe you already are? This exciting foundation degree can help you start or advance a rewarding career. It could also help you into further qualifications and even a teaching degree.

Application Deadline:
Fri, Jul 1st, 2016

£3,750 per year

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This course offers a higher-level qualification for anyone working as a teaching assistant, early years nursery worker or playworker. It’s also ideal if you want to study before starting your career.

Full Description

You’ll learn about the education sector as well as child development, play, safeguarding and equality. There’s a strong focus on issues that are currently affecting early years, playwork and education services – as well as on your ability to carry out research.

With the support of a mentor, you’ll do work placements and record your progress in a professional development portfolio. You’ll develop a wide range of practical and analytical skills which are valued by employers, including the ability to think critically about your work and the setting you’re in.

Our friendly tutors all have experience of working in the education sector. They’re keen to see you succeed, and will give you regular, helpful support and feedback. Classes are generally small. You’ll study individually and in small groups to develop your flexibility, independence and teamwork.

When you graduate, you’ll have a foundation degree. You could then apply for a one-year top-up course to get a full honours degree.

Course Details

Level 4 modules

Learning and Development

This module introduces you to your own learning as well as children’s and links to existing theory. It explores the difference between learning and development and considers the influence of adults on children’s learning. The key topics will be: human development, understanding learning, study skills and the roles of parents and key persons.

Play, Health and Well-being

Nowadays the link between lifestyle factors such as activity levels, diet and health is becoming increasingly clear, and greater importance is being placed on the need for children to access outdoor environments. It is crucial to get children making choices and enjoying a healthy balanced diet and active lifestyle from as young an age as possible. Play is recognised as being crucial to children's physical, mental, social and emotional well-being, yet opportunities and encouragement for free play are becoming increasingly limited. You’ll consider children’s well-being and how it relates to their rights. You’ll learn how well-being can be supported through healthy eating, regular physical activity and a play based environment. The key topics will be: well-being, healthy eating and exercise, outdoor play and forest schools.

Researching Childhood

You’ll be introduced to essential research skills relating to children and learn about the importance of linking theory to your practice. The aim is for you to develop skills in child observation and apply general research methods to childhood studies. You'll be expected to work in small groups and share your experience and ideas with your class. The key topics will be: research methods, ethics involved in working with children, types of observation and studying children.

Work-based Learning 1

You will identify a specific aspect of practice to develop. Using an 'Action Inquiry' model, you will then plan a change strategy, implement the change and evaluate its effectiveness. This model of personal professional development will enable you to understand your workplace by observing, developing and carrying out an action plan to effect change and improvement in practice. You will develop valuable workplace skills in IT, communication, presentation, reflection and analysis.

Level 5 modules

Supporting Children's Learning

This module is about the ways in which children play and learn and the means by which adults can mediate and support their experience. You’ll discuss pedagogic strategies and learn about the importance of creative practices and children learning through play. Different early years’ curricula (Steiner Waldorf, Montessori method, Experiential Education, High Scope, Reggio Emilia and Te Whariki) will be compared and contrasted with England’s curriculum. The key topics will be: early years’ curricula, learning through play, creative learning and pedagogy as well as documenting care and learning.

Safeguarding Children

In this module you’ll explore children’s welfare and well-being. You’ll learn about the complexities attached to the notion of risk, child abuse, protection and safeguarding. This module will offer a comprehensive cover of English legislation, policy and procedures for keeping children safe from abuse. You will gain an understanding of the range of provision available to support children’s needs. The key topics will be: child protection, support and intervention, policy and legislation, multi-disciplinary working and welfare and well-being.

Embracing Diversity

In this module, you'll discuss disability, differences and special educational needs in relation to debates on inclusion and exclusion, needs and rights, and the importance of seeing every child as an individual. You’ll explore different cultural practices to enable an empathetic understanding of how to help all children feel welcome in a setting. Theories for this module are drawn from different backgrounds such as psychology, sociology and education. The key topics will be: history and language of inclusion, cultural differences and EAL, family structures and lifestyles, policy and legislation as well as special educational needs.Work-based Learning 2

You’ll be encouraged to explore your professional practice, along the strands developed previously as a source of learning. You’ll be expected to demonstrate a greater degree of autonomy in the management of your learning and demonstrate a more detailed knowledge of relevant theories.


As you move through the course, we’ll check your progress regularly to make sure you’re achieving milestones, and getting any extra support you may need. There are no exams, but you’ll be assessed on written work. This will include essays, a reflective diary, reports, presentations, web discussions and a professional development portfolio.


Experienced early years professionals will teach you and you’ll have a personal tutor and learner mentor to guide you. We’ll also provide regular feedback and help you reach your maximum potential on the course.

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 course will open up a number of career options. You’ll be able to apply for roles in nursery work, school support and playwork. It will also be an advantage if you want to do further study, such as topping up to a full honours degree in just one year.

The course has professional recognition. It takes into account the Children's Workforce Development Council and the Early Years Professional Framework.

Career Advice

Our Employability Service is here to help give you the best chance of landing the job you want. We’ll help you improve your skills and bulk up your CV to improve your career prospects.

As a distance learning student, you’ll still benefit from help and advice on CV writing, interview techniques, job hunting, and general careers advice. 

To find out more please visit our careers advice page.

Entry Requirements


  • Level 3 Childcare qualification.
  • GCSE grade C or above in English Language.
  • If English is not your first language you will be expected to demonstrate a certificated level of proficiency of at least IELTS 6.0 (Academic level) or equivalent English Language qualification, as recognised by Anglia Ruskin University.


  • UCAS Tariff points acquired from BTEC Level 3 Diplomas are accepted.
  • Access to HE Diplomas at overall Pass grade are accepted.
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 24 points is accepted.
  • UCAS Tariff points from the Irish Leaving Certificate are accepted.
  • UCAS Tariff points from Scottish Highers are accepted.
  • UCAS Tariff points from Scottish Advanced Highers are accepted.
  • 120 UCAS Tariff Points from A level (or equivalent).

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

You'll need Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance in order to study this course.

As a distance learner, you’ll also need a suitable computer with internet connection, together with sufficient IT competence to make effective use of word processing, internet and email.

If English is not your first language, you will be expected to demonstrate a certificated level of proficiency of at least IELTS 6.0 or equivalent.

Fees & Funding

This course costs £3,750 per year.

Student loans are now available to cover the cost of studying this course. Subject to eligibility, terms and conditions. Also, ask us about payment by instalments.

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