Early years lead practitioner (level 5) – Develop a career in early years education

A graphic which reads 'Apprenticeship Spotlight: Early years lead practitioner level 5' and features a picture of a young woman with curly hair sat at a table with young children playing a maths game with a large dice
Background image – Sturti on Getty Images Signature

Are you someone interested in developing a career in education? Whether you completed a level 2 or 3 Early Years Apprenticeship, are someone already employed in early years education or just have a passion for caring, teaching and developing young children – the Level 5 Early years lead practitioner could be the perfect opportunity for you. In this update, we take a look at the apprenticeship standard and answer the key questions about this programme.

What does the Early years lead practitioner role involve?

The main role is to lead day-to-day practices, be a role model for play-based learning, and oversee the care and development of young children.

Day to day duties revolve around: Promoting children’s health, providing learning opportunities, supporting personal care, advocating for children, ensuring safeguarding compliance, reflective practice, professional development, maintaining safety standards, completing administrative tasks, collaborating with parents, and leading and managing responsibilities effectively.

Where would the role take place?

This particular standard can lend itself to multiple environments, typically you could do a level 5 early years lead practitioner apprenticeships in: nurseries, playgroups, nursery schools, pre-schools, kindergartens, primary schools, hospitals, social care settings, out of school environments and local authority provision.

Given the nature of the role, it is almost certain that the role will take place entirely in person – gaining hands on experience of leading children’s activities in an early years environment. Depending on which training provider delivers the programme, off the job training may be delivered in person or online.

How long does the programme last and how am I assessed?

The Apprenticeship programme itself typically lasts for 24 months, but must be at least 12 months not including End Point Assessment (EPA).

At this point, you’ll enter end point assessment. For the Early years lead practitioner apprenticeship, EPA consists of an observation in the workplace and an interview with the endpoint assessment organisation underpinned by a portfolio of evidence – which you’ll collect during the programme. After end point assessment, you’ll be awarded a grade of Pass, Merit, Distinction or Refer.

If I’m looking for this type of role, how would I apply?

You could apply for this role, like you would for any apprenticeship programme, in 2 ways:

  1. Vacancy Search – you could apply directly for vacancies on the official .gov.uk apprenticeship website here
  2. Contact a Training Provider – click the below button to see a list of training providers who deliver the Level 5 Early years Lead practitioner Apprenticeship, these providers will likely have their own list of vacancies and options for contacting them and applying through their site.

What is a training Provider?

A training provider is the organisation which provides the training for your apprenticeship, this could be a college or other educational institution or a private training provider, which is an organisation set up specifically to deliver apprenticeships and training


To summarise, this level 5 programme is ideal for those searching for apprenticeships in childcare or early years education – providing a platform for hands on learning and progression into a leadership role. The standard forms part of a longer progression route into a career in these areas, following on from the Level 2 Early years practitioner and Level 3 Early years educator standards which, in combination, allow to gain layers of experience at multiple levels of an organisation – developing into a leader in early years education.

I’m coming to the end of my apprenticeship, where can I find advice on EPA?

Complete the form below with your email address to get a link to our EPA Tips guide. This guide was originally created to advise those completing digital apprenticeships, however the content of the guide applies to all Apprenticeship interviews – making it useful for anyone looking for guidance when approaching their EPA interview.