From apprentice to manager - Emily's inspiring journey in early years leadership


With the increasing complexity of early years settings and the growing demand for skilled leaders, apprenticeships have emerged as a powerful tool for nurturing leadership talent.


Emily Morgan’s remarkable journey not only illustrates her extraordinary growth as an early years leader, but also highlights her adept management of family life alongside career development.

Juggling a nursery management role, a growing family and a demanding level 5 lead practitioner apprenticeship required unwavering dedication, resilience and a robust support system.

Passion ignited:

Emily began her career as a level 2 apprentice at Lily’s Little Gems, a thriving nursery in Farnworth. Early on, she recognised the importance of leadership, motivating her decision to “support staff and guide them to the best of her ability” and pursue further education.

Catalyst for growth:

To broaden her knowledge, Emily enrolled in a level 5 lead practitioner apprenticeship with Realise. Guided by Trainer Assessor, Gemma Hughes, Emily applied each lesson diligently to her work at Lily’s Little Gems, marking a turning point in her career.

Gemma adds: “Emily is an outstanding example of the success that can be achieved through apprenticeships. She is a dedicated and passionate early years professional who has truly grown and developed during her time with Realise. I’m incredibly proud of her accomplishments and know that she has a bright future ahead of her.”

Transformational learning and career advancement

Describing her apprenticeship as “second to none”, Emily emphasised the invaluable knowledge gained. From Room Leader to Deputy Manager, and now Manager, her career progression mirrors her growth as a leader. “I have progressed massively since doing the course,” Emily proudly states.

A pillar of support in Realise

Throughout her apprenticeship, Emily found unwavering support from Realise. Regular communication and comprehensive feedback fuelled her motivation. “They always kept in contact! So easy to get hold of if I had a question,” Emily recalls. This support provided invaluable, enabling her to overcome challenges seamlessly.

She adds: “Gemma understood my home life and always showed support. I am constantly signing other staff up with Realise because they’re just FAB!”

Overcoming challenges with collaboration:

Balancing growing responsibilities with apprenticeship studies posed challenging, but Emily’s employer and Realise collaborated seamlessly to ensure her success. Adaptable scheduling and accommodating lessons showcased our mutual commitment to her development.

She adds: “Sometimes with my role progressing, it was hard to get on the lessons” Emily explains. “But I would always be sent the recording, so I didn’t fall behind or always asked to attend another lesson.”

Emily continues: “I couldn’t have done all of this if it wasn’t for the support from Lily’s, the owner Julie, and all the rest of the staff. We all help each other and have lots of books, etc in the staff room which Julie has supplied for us all to help with our work.”

Pride and accomplishments

Reflecting on her apprenticeship, Emily takes pride in moments of recognition, such as assessors remarking on her exceptional presentation skills. “I was always told I was a strong member of the group,” Emily recalls with pride. These achievements fuelled her confidence and reinforced her commitment to excellence.

A catalyst for personal and professional growth

The apprenticeship proved transformative, shaping not only Emily’s professional but also personal development. “I honestly believe I wouldn’t be manager now if it wasn’t for this course,” she asserts, highlighting the empowerment gained as a confident and effective leader.

The power of leadership skills

Emily underscores the influence of leadership lessons, emphasising the importance of managing and leading positively. “This has enabled me to be a very open manager, and a lot of staff have trust and confidence in me,” she explains, showcasing the tangible impact of her acquired skills.

Finding joy in early years education

Working in the early years sector brings immense fulfilment to Emily. Witnessing children progress, from their first steps to graduation from nursery, fills her with joy. “To watch some children who started in the baby room be leaving for school is amazing!” Emily exclaims.

The balancing act

As a mother to an 8 year old boy and a 5 year old girl, Emily faced the challenge of juggling her responsibilities at home while pursuing a level 5 lead practitioner apprenticeship. “Home life is super busy, but I have a supportive partner who always makes sure I switch off when I walk through the door” she explains. This essential support has helped her to focus on family activities during weekends.

Advice for future apprentices

When asked if Emily has any advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship in early years, she replied: “Go for it! Don’t over think it. You will have so much support around you. If you need help, just ask. Although you’re not in a classroom, you form amazing bonds still with other learners and you’re learning on the job too!”


Emily’s case study not only exemplifies the transformative power of apprenticeships in early years but also highlights the importance of a robust support system. Managing a thriving nursery, a young family and a demanding apprenticeship simultaneously is no small feat. Still, with the right support, dedication and a collaborative approach, Emily not only succeeded but thrived.

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Empower yourself to make a lasting impact on the lives of young children and advance your career with our level 5 lead practitioner apprenticeship. Follow in Emily’s footsteps and become a beacon of excellence in early years education.

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