South Thames Early Education Partnership (STEEP)


More about our South Thames Early Education Partnership and how to apply.

In addition to offering the well-established and highly regarded PGCE, Goldsmiths works in partnership with a group of six Nursery Schools and Children’s Centres, (South Thames Early Education Partnership - STEEP), to offer a unique school-based route into early years teaching.

This route into teaching provides an opportunity to gain both the qualifications and practical skills you need to become a teacher, by working alongside experienced Foundation Stage practitioners in these nursery schools.

STEEP in "Nursery World”

"Grow your own"

The new School Direct programme is being used by nursery schools to develop the next generation of talent." Hannah Crown reports. Read the full article on the programme (Please note you will need to register to gain access)


The specialist Early Years PGCE pathway now known as ‘STEEP’ was established in 2012 as a joint project between the Department of Educational Studies at Goldsmiths and six Nursery Schools and Children’s Centres in The Royal Borough of Greenwich and the London Borough of Lewisham. This partnership developed with the specific aim of producing:

“specialist early years practitioners, who are well qualified in this field and have high levels of expertise, a robust understanding of the development of young children” and “a knowledge of how young children learn most effectively.”


How to apply

STEEP is a School Direct Training Programme which is open to all graduates. You will usually receive a bursary at a level determined by the phase of training and your degreee class. The route is similar to the Goldsmiths PGCE Early Years (3-7) course but with schools in the lead. Once accepted onto STEEP, you would be based in a nursery school over the course of the PGCE year and divide your time between Goldsmiths and your school. You will undertake a placement in Key Stage 1, Reception and gain experience of working with under-threes.

At Goldsmiths you follow a parallel course to other PGCE students and are assessed at M-level in the same way. In addition to taught sessions at Goldsmiths you also receive bespoke input from the STEEP partners attending staff meetings, and in-service training in your host school, and specialist taught sessions in each of six the STEEP settings. Students also attend the annual STEEP Conference, which has an attendance of over 300, and are able to hear from leading Early Years academics and practitioners.

Supported by STEEP partners, all of whom are Goldsmiths trained mentors, and by University based Early Years lecturers carrying out a moderating role, STEEP students are closely advised and mentored. 

Over the first two years of the project, students have been closely involved in the evaluation and development of the STEEP PGCE. All of the students following this route have gained employment with the majority working within their specialist age phase.

STEEP and Goldsmiths are both members of the Royal Greenwich Teaching Schools Alliance, and in 2014 the STEEP partnership of schools was awarded National Teaching School status, with Chelwood Nursery School being lead school in the further development of the school-centred training route in partnership with Goldsmiths.

To apply for the School Direct STEEP programme go to the UCAS Teacher Training web page. The STEEP programme details can be found by searching for Early Years and then choosing Chelwood Nursery School.

Training provider code name: A2243
Training provider code: 21K
Training programme code: 2MBS

STEEP Partnership Schools