This chapter provides an overview of how the early years sector has developed, what it comprises today and what policy and legislation has shaped its current form. This helps to understand the role of the graduate practitioner and how this has developed. The chapter considers key policy initiatives, wide-ranging research projects and landmark legislation and the impact they have had on the role of the early years practitioner. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, pioneers of young children's education included Margaret McMillan, Frederick Froebel and Maria Montessori. What these early pioneers had in common then was their valuing of childhood for its own sake and an understanding that children's learning was more effectively defined as their active and growing understanding of the world rather than their more passive acquisition of facts. The green paper acknowledged that there were insufficient childcare places if all untrained or non-working parents were to access education or employment.