This qualification provides recognition of a training course for those wishing to work with, or (later) be in charge of nurseries for, children in the age-range 2½ – 6 years. It has been taught for many years and is extensively accredited.

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The qualification was credit rated by the Open University in 2000.  Students who gained a merit in every subject area are awarded 120 general CATS points, which can be used as advanced credit towards a degree (see the tab on MAEL’s background for further details.)  The Open University has now closed its transfer transfer department, but the qualification is still accepted by many institutions and universities.

This qualification meets all the criteria promulgated by Montessori Europe in the declaration of Gothenburg (click here to see their website for full details.)

This qualification is not separately accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), an international body based in the U.S.A., as they only accredit programs i.e. qualification courses embedded in a teaching Centre.   However the qualification has been used as the basis of a successful application to MACTE  for accreditation (click here to go to their website for details) and meets all the relevant criteria.

Entry Qualifications

Candidates who are aged 18-21 years normally require two ‘A’ levels or equivalent (e.g. International Baccalaureate or GNVQ 3). Students without these may be accepted by Centres, subject to their being able to demonstrate (via written work and interview) that they could cope successfully with the work. For younger applicants, a good school reference is then required and, preferably, evidence of satisfactory work experience with children.

Mature students are accepted on the basis of their personal qualities and experience. No specific examination passes are required, but an appropriate ability with the English language (i.e. to at least level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) and preferably level B2) must be demonstrated.  Centres are encouraged to arrange police checks on candidates where these are available, but in any case to take reasonable step to ensure all applicants are suitable persons to be in charge of young children.


The following topics are included in the course:

Component One: Knowledge of Childcare and Education (2-6yrs)

Module 1. The Child’s Environment – The ideal nursery environment, nature v nurture debate, safety, Government regulations, integration, parental co-operation

Module 2. The Teacher’s Task – Preparation of the teacher, motivation, levels of obedience, normalisation, recognising sensitive periods, child protection

Module 3. How Children Develop – Norms of child development, physical, intellectual, emotional, personality and social development, sensitive periods, pampered/deviant/weak children, causes of behavioural or developmental problems

Module 4. Observing Children – Methods of observation, choice, use and evaluation of methods, variations of settings, children’s rights

Module 5. How Children Think and Learn – Learning theories, e.g. behaviourist, cognitive and social learning; concept formation, Bruner, Piaget, Vygotsky; learning problems e.g. SLD; play and work, different types of play e.g. solitary, co-operative. Learning through play; different learning styles and different teaching strategies; group/individual teaching, evaluation of learning

Module 6. Creative Work – Montessori on creativity, imagination and fantasy; artwork with different media suitable for nursery children, process not product, art appreciation; music, movement dance and drama in the whole curriculum, the’ topic wheel’; using a variety of teaching strategies for aesthetic subjects

Component Two: Use of the Montessori Apparatus

Module 6. Life Skills- The Montessori work cycle, practical life skills exercises, developing gross and fine motor control, value of cultural diversity

Module 7. Educating the Senses- Rationale for sensory education, sensorial education exercises, exploration of sound, colour, texture, shape and spacial form in 2 or 3 dimensions, special needs

Module 8. Teaching about the World – The sun, as star and as source of energy, Solar system; Earth, shape and structure; land, air and water forms; Continents and countries, cultural diversity; mapping; Variety of living things, classification; Habitats, life-cycles; Concepts of time, personal time lines, annual changes; Prehistoric time line, eras

Module 9. Language and Literacy – Language as it involves speaking, listening, reading and writing; Language acquisition, language and thought, norms of development; preparation through rhymes, practical life/sensorial programmes, other skills; different approaches to the teaching of reading; writing skills, introduction of grammar

Module 10. Early Mathematics- Preparing the child through earlier Montessori exercises, also sorting into sets, matching, number rhymes and stories, games, calendar time, movement, sequencing, shopping, work with clay etc.; moving from concrete to abstract; the Montessori maths materials; the four basic functions

Component Three: Teaching Practice

Module 11. Classroom Skills – Relating the setting to the local community, observation, keeping records, self evaluation, presentations of apparatus, health and safety, reviewing

Module 12. Child Study – Child study based on observations and assessment; preparation and delivery of a group project; organisation of the day; evaluation

Module 13. Nursery Management – Professional behaviour, policy writing and implementation e.g. equal opportunities, SEN Code of Practice, discipline policy; Government regulations; Setting up – premises, recruiting and retaining staff, professional development; parental partnerships; stress; finances and tax affairs

Course Structure

To meet the criteria, students attend the Centre for face-to-face tuition for at least 200 hours (90% attendance is mandatory).  There are various time structures possible – please contact your local Centre for details.  Also, 400 hours minimum are spent either working in a Montessori setting, or doing work experience in a Montessori nursery, which will be arranged (as far as possible) to be near the student’s home.  600 hours (notionally) will be spent on private study and preparing assessments (details below.)

 Award of the Diploma

The Diploma is awarded on satisfactory attendance (minimum 90%) and completion of the course, which is assessed by:

  1. Written coursework, set throughout the course
  2. Production of reference files on the practical materials
  3. Detailed observations of children
  4. Making of language and cultural teaching materials
  5. One three hour written examination
  6. An individual practical viva examination
  7. Satisfactory completion of the 400 hours practice teaching and file
  8. Visits to oversee the teaching practice
  9. Additional coursework, based on the practical experience




Date of last revision: 30/07/12