Students on the Foundation Degree


As the need for innovative educators and superb support staff continues to grow across various educational settings, University Centre Newbury (UCN), in collaboration with the University of Reading, highlights the versatility and depth of the Foundation Degree in Children's Development and Learning, a programme that is not only pivotal for those working in early years and primary education but also in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) settings.

The degree programme is meticulously designed for Early Years Practitioners, Teaching Assistants and Learning Support Assistants, providing them with robust knowledge and the practical skills essential for professional advancement while continuing their employment.

Danielle Giles, a current student who works within a SEND environment, shares her experience: “The degree has given me the opportunity to gain a qualification that fits around my lifestyle. I work in a Special Educational Needs (SEND) setting and have found the modules around inclusion very helpful. I have gained insight into relevant legislation, which has helped me better understand our school policies. Hearing about the SEN provision in mainstream settings from other cohort members has also been insightful.”

Laura Pearce, a second-year student, added, “As a teaching assistant, I find the course extremely relevant to my job. The course has taught me a lot about children’s learning development, and I’m applying what I’ve learnt so far within my role at the school where I work. Studying for a degree in Newbury is an advantage to me. I was thrilled that UCN’s partnership with the University of Reading made this possible for me.”   

The Foundation Degree in Children's Development and Learning effectively prepares educators and support staff to handle diverse learning needs by offering insights into psychological, sociological, and educational methodologies that influence children’s development.

According to Tracey Birchall and Beccy Monteith, Course Leaders for the programme, “The degree's broad applicability across different educational sectors means that there is a valuable exchange of practices and ideas in every session, significantly enriching the learning experience. This knowledge sharing is especially beneficial in understanding and implementing effective strategies for inclusive education.”

Students, who must already be employed in educational settings as a requirement of the programme, actively engage with theoretical perspectives on child development and immediately apply these through a practitioner research module. This hands-on component is crucial for allowing these working practitioners to integrate and tailor educational approaches directly in their professional environments, particularly to meet the diverse needs of young people in SEND settings, enhancing their ability to make immediate, impactful changes based on their learning.

Graduates of the Foundation Degree may progress to the BA in Children’s Development and Learning, further enhancing their qualifications and readiness to take on advanced roles in education, including positions as Early Years Teachers or attaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

For more information about the Foundation Degree in Children's Development and Learning and how it prepares educators for a broad spectrum of educational settings, please visit