Early Years Lead Practitioner | EPA Standards | NCFE | NCFE

What can we help you find?

EPA Standard

Early Years Lead Practitioner

Level 5     £8,000      24 months

1. What the role entails

The Early Years Lead Practitioner (EYLP) is a proactive and influential practitioner, competently leading day-today practice at an operational level. They are highly-skilled professionals who take a lead for the care, learning and development of young children in their care, adapting to individual needs and providing an inclusive and holistic provision. As an active practitioner working directly with children, EYLPs are also role models of play-based learning whilst supporting others to develop their own practice. In their day-to-day role, an EYLP interacts with children (from birth to 8 years of age), families, practitioners, other professionals and appropriate agencies and is responsible for supporting the quality of learning and development in their setting. The EYLP is also typically responsible for leading other practitioners and aspects such as communication and language, planning and assessment, forest school, physical activity and nutrition while reporting directly to the setting lead.

2. On-programme assessment

Before entering Gateway, the apprentice must complete the following on-programme assessment requirements:

  • Level 2 Functional Skills English and maths or equivalent qualifications
  • a Portfolio of Evidence to underpin the Professional Discussion
  • completion of the Case Study scope and title document for approval.

3. Gateway requirements

The decision to take an apprentice through Gateway is made between the employer, independent training provider (ITP) and the apprentice, and the employer must agree that the apprentice is working at, or above, the level of the occupational standard. The apprentice must have completed all the on-programme elements before they enter Gateway. The Case Study title and scope will be agreed between the apprentice, the employer and NCFE at Gateway.

4. End-point assessment

The EPA for Early Years Lead Practitioner contains three methods of assessment:

Observation with Questions

An Observation with Questions involves an Independent End-Point Assessor (IEPA) observing and questioning an apprentice undertaking work, as part of their normal duties, in the workplace. This allows for demonstration of the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) through naturally occurring evidence. The IEPA will ask questions in relation to KSBs that have not been observed during the Observation. The total duration of this is assessment is 90 minutes, 60 minutes for
the Observation and 30 minutes for the IEPA Questioning (the IEPA has the discretion to increase the time of the Observation by up to 10% to allow the apprentice to complete their last task or respond to a question; the 10% can be allocated in any proportion across the Observation and Questioning).

Grading: the Observation with Questions will be measured as Fail, Pass or Distinction.

Professional Discussion underpinned by a Portfolio

The Professional Discussion must be appropriately structured to draw out the best of the apprentice’s competence and excellence and cover the KSBs assigned to this assessment method. A Professional Discussion is a two-way discussion which involves both the IEPA and the apprentice actively listening and participating in a formal conversation. The total time for this assessment is 60 minutes (the IEPA has the discretion to increase the time of the Professional Discussion by up to 10% to allow the apprentice to complete their last answer).

Grading: the Professional Discussion will be measured as Fail, Pass or Distinction.

Case Study with Report and Presentation with Questioning

The Case Study and Report (component 1) will be based on a study the apprentice has done with an individual child and/or group of children and should include an analysis of observations made.
The Presentation (component 2) will complement the Report by allowing the apprentice the opportunity to provide more information and answer questions on it. A Case Study must be based on a real-life workplace situation which involves the apprentice completing a relevant and defined piece of work. The work must have a real benefit to the children or setting the apprentice is working in. The in-depth analysis of the observations and resulting Case Study with Report and Presentation must be undertaken after the apprentice has gone through Gateway.

Component 1: apprentice to complete a Case Study and Report spanning a typical duration of 12 weeks. The Case Study will be 4,000 words (+/- 10%) with NCFE’s approval of the Case Study’s scope and title.

Component 2: Presentation and Questioning lasting 40 minutes. This is split into typically 20 minutes for the Presentation and 20 minutes Questioning. The IEPA will ask a minimum of 4 questions at the end of the Presentation. The IEPA has the discretion to increase the time of the Presentation by up to 10%.

Grading: the Case Study with Report and Presentation will be measured as Fail, Pass or Distinction.

5. Grade aggregation table

Observations with Questions Professional Discussion underpinned by a Portfolio of Evidence Case Study with Report and Presentation with Questioning Overall Grade
Pass Pass Pass Pass
Distinction Pass Pass Pass
Pass Distinction Pass Pass
Pass Pass Distinction Pass
Pass Distinction Distinction Merit
Distinction Pass Distinction  Merit
Distinction Distinction Pass  Merit
Distinction Distinction Distinction Distinction

A Fail in any assessment method will result in a Fail overall.

6. Completion and certification

We’ll activate certification once the apprentice has successfully completed all EPAs, and the IEPA has verified this. Working with the apprenticeship certificate issuing authority, we’ll ensure the apprentice receives their certificate.

7. What next?

Following on from your apprenticeship, typical job titles can include Deputy Manager, Lead Practitioner, Early Years Coordinator and Early Years Support Worker among many others.


We’re an approved End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) specialising in EPA delivery across health, education, early years, digital, social care, finance and business apprenticeship standards. We offer flexible and reliable EPA solutions supported by sector expertise, guidance documents and proactive service and support.

Get in touch

Download a PDF version of this standard
Download now
View the full IfATE Early Years Lead Practitioner standard
Explore the standard