Early Years Lead Practitioner Level 5 ST0551

Early Years Lead Practitioner

This occupation is found in a range of settings which can include day nurseries, playgroups, primary schools, etc. The broad purpose of the occupation is to be a proactive and influential practitioner, working directly with children, skilfully leading day to day practice at an operational level.

As active practitioners they are effective role models of play-based learning, supporting others to develop their own practice. They are highly skilled professionals who take an operational lead for the care, learning and development of all young children within their care, adapting to individual needs providing inclusive and holistic provision. They engage with sector developments both locally and nationally, with a commitment to developing their own professional and educational competencies.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with children aged birth to eight years, families, practitioners, other professionals and appropriate agencies. An employee in this occupation will be responsible for supporting the quality of learning and development in their setting.

Gateway Requirements

The decision to take an apprentice through Gateway is made between the employer, training provider and apprentice.  Full time apprentices will typically spend 24 months on-programme, all apprentices must spend a minimum of 12 months on-programme. The apprentice must have completed all on-programme elements before they enter Gateway, including the completion of a Portfolio of Evidence, and Level 2 in English and Maths.

End-point Asssessment

EPA consists of two discrete assessment methods. These can be delivered in any order – via remote assessment – and are weighted equally in their contribution to the overall EPA grade.

Assessment MethodTimescalesTo achieve a PassTo achieve a Distinction
Observation with questionsMaximum 60 minutes for observation, and 30 minutes for questioningAll of the Pass criteria must be met 100%All of the Distinction criteria must be met 100%
Professional discussion underpinned by a portfolio of evidenceMaximum 60 minutes with (10% discretion)Must meet 100% of the pass criteriaMust meet all of the pass criteria AND 100% of the distinction criteria
Case study report and  presentation and questioning (2 Components)The case study report must be submitted 12 weeks after the gateway. The Presentation and questioning will be a 40-minute P&Q (20mins/20mins)Must meet 100% of the pass criteriaMust meet all of the pass criteria AND 100% of the distinction criteria

Observation with questions

The apprentice must prepare a session plan, including relevant risk assessments prior to the observation. The session plan must be no more than two sides of A4 in size 12 font. The session plan itself is not marked but may be used as a basis for questions at the end of the observation. 

The observation should enable the apprentice to evidence their skills, knowledge and behaviour within the standard to demonstrate genuine and demanding work objectives. The observation is covered in one session, lasting 60 minutes +/- 10% tolerance.  The observation will include questioning to allow the IEA to understand the reasons behind the apprentice’s actions and to provide an opportunity to draw out further detail regarding the KSBs mapped to the assessment method. (30 minutes). 

Professional discussion underpinned by a portfolio of evidence

Skillsfirst will review the portfolio and can use the contents of the portfolio to identify discussion topics for the professional discussion.

The professional discussion must last 60 minutes with the discretion to increase the time of the professional discussion by up to 10% to allow the apprentice to complete their last answer. 

Case study report and presentation and questioning 

At gateway, the apprentice must produce a study title and scope (max 500 words) approved by Skillsfirst before commencing the case study report. 

The report will be based on a case study that the apprentice has done with an individual child or group of children. The case study will be 4,000 words (+ / – 10% at the apprentice’s discretion) including tables, graphs, and figures, though excluding references and annexes. The apprentice will have 12 weeks to write and submit the case study report, sufficient time should have been allowed to enable the apprentice to observe children over a period of typically 6 weeks.  The presentation will complement the report by allowing the apprentice the opportunity to provide more information about the report and to answer questions about it.


The IEA will not provide the apprentice (or their manager) with a preliminary grade, as it will be subject to Skillsfirst internal quality assurance processes. Skillsfirst will aim to confirm the apprentice’s final and overall grade approximately 10 working days after the last assessment.


Once moderation is complete and the apprentice has successfully completed all EPA methods, Skillsfirst will activate certification through the Apprenticeship assessment service. Certificates will be sent directly to the employer.

You can download a copy of the information on this page here

A link to the Early Years Lead Practitioner standards page can be found here