A training programme for teachers has been given a glowing report from an independent watchdog.

An audit by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education said the University of Worcester's early years initial teacher training programme had made commendable progress.

It is the highest possible standard that can be given by the body which checks quality and standards in the UK's universities and colleges.

The university was commended for the development of its virtual learning environment (VLE) and data portal; the effectiveness of its recruitment strategy, particularly for male candidates; and for the introduction of the early years initial teacher training programme, which is designed to raise the prominence of the early years workforce.

In the report, the Agency also suggested the university could make its evaluation of actions more specific and said the university could explore opportunities for tutors, mentors, assessors and student representatives from across its partnerships, to meet and share their experiences and practice.

Professor David Green, the university's vice chancellor and chief executive, said: “There is a widely held consensus that more graduates should be working in the extremely important area of early years development.

“The university of Worcester has been at the fore of the drive to achieve this, working with partners from across the country.

"We are delighted that this independent audit has returned such a positive report and that our work in this area is commended.

“There is great competition for places on the course, with each and every one being snapped up by high quality trainees who will go on to play a significant role in the lives of children and their families.”

Dr Karen Hanson, head of the university's centre for early childhood, added: “The fact that they have awarded us with the highest possible rating highlights the hard work put in by both students and staff to ensure that the university of Worcester’s early years graduates will make a difference to children’s and families' lives.”

The university was awarded one of only eight national contracts to educate and train early years professionals in England in 2011 and is the lead provider of this programme, working with partners across the West Midlands and South West regions.