University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Article number1724935
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Early online date11 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Feb 2020


Professionalisation of the early years workforce internationally foregrounds what it means to gain professional recognition as an early years practitioner and has important implications for developing vocational programmes in higher education. This article explores two early years practitioners’ professionality and developing professional identities as they undertook a new undergraduate degree programme whilst employed full-time in UK early childhood settings. Using the practitioners’ learning stories and insights from their managers and mentors, this article examines evidence for changes in their professional identities; illustrates how they used their learning in practice; and identifies learning about their professionality. Significantly, it contributes to the understanding of professional identity, professionality and professionalism of early years practitioners and questions whether ‘threshold concepts’, after Meyer and Land, differ depending on students’ prior experience of practice. The findings inform understandings of the way higher education programmes can enable practitioners to develop themselves and contribute to their profession.


© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Teaching in Higher Education on 11 Feb 2020, available online:

ID: 19338447