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Course content

This course is a forum for sharing experience and developing knowledge of child development, the early years curriculum and the particular challenges of leadership in an early years context. It is designed for early years professionals and managers.

This course is not available to students classed as International for fees purposes.

Why choose this course?

  • This course is designed, in conjunction with Oxfordshire Local Authority, to provide an opportunity for practitioners to update themselves on the latest research on child development, early years policy and practice. 
  • It provides a forum for discussion and the sharing of practice in relation to key areas of development and change.
  • We work in close partnership with schools, nurseries, children's centres and other early years settings across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
  • The School of Education at Oxford Brookes is a focal point for lively, informed debate on education through its seminar and lecture programmes.  

This course in detail

This is a three module course leading to the award of Postgraduate Certificate in Education: Early Childhood. The modules are:

  • Learning and Development in Childhood
  • Children's Imaginative Worlds or Investigating Practice (Early Years focus)
  • Leadership in the Early Years or Working with Children, Young People and their Families.

Learning and Development in Childhood

Content includes:

  • constructivism and social constructivism
  • brain development and core knowledge theories
  • learning in a social context: children shaped by and shaping their context
  • inter-subjectivity and learning through sustained shared thinking
  • narrative understanding and learning through analogy
  • self-esteem and the achievement of mastery
  • the development of values and identity
  • achieving a theory of mind: empathy, social understanding and relationships
  • learning through the body
  • self-regulation, planning and problem solving.

Children's Imaginative Worlds

Content includes:

  • the development of memory and alternative narratives of past and future events
  • imagining, mulling and the development of creativity
  • the role of imagination in children's self-directed lives
  • the role of imagination in the construction of knowledge
  • domains of imaginative experience e.g. children's literature / role play / spiritual development / drawing and painting / music and musicality / children and the media.

Investigating Practice (early years focus)

Content includes:

  • selecting and refining an issue for investigation
  • examining notions of quality and effectiveness in provision for young children
  • evaluating responses to diversity in early years settings
  • understanding the role of play in young children's learning
  • an introduction to action research methods
  • recording and analysing progress and change in young children eg in relation to language / movement / social interaction
  • ethical issues in the collection and holding of data on young children and their families
  • contextualising findings from personal investigations in relation to national and international perspectives on the education and care of young children.

Leadership in the Early Years

Content includes:

  • the policy context for education and care in the early years
  • the financial modelling that shapes early years settings
  • theories of leadership, management and motivation
  • principles, values and the development of organisational cultures
  • defining and assuring high quality provision
  • managing for diverse cultures and needs
  • leading, building, maintaining and contributing to teams
  • self-evaluation and planning
  • continuing professional development.

Working with Children, Young People and their Families

Content includes:

  • the policy background - social and educational inclusion
  • notions of children's well-being and vulnerability and rationales for intervention
  • managing complexity in services for children and families - having a view of the whole system
  • working with others - communication across professional boundaries
  • intervening in the lives of children and their families - ethical issues and practical challenges
  • evaluating specialist interventions.

As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, course content and module choices may change from the details given here.

Teaching and learning

The teaching and learning methods used on the programme are designed to promote constructive and critical reflection on practice and a range of theoretical and research issues. 

Lectures, seminars and workshops provide the format for the timetabled sessions but the modules are structured to ensure students have the opportunities to draw on the knowledge and experience of each other. 

Approach to assessment

Each module has an assignment of approximately 4,000 words.

An example of an indicative assessment is a report on an observational study of children working on a particular activity / experience, focusing on a selected child-development theme.


Visit the PGCert Education - Early Childhood page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!

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