Traditionally, the status of workers in early childhood services in England has been low. Foundation degrees and the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS, from September 2013 Early Years Teacher Status) were established with a view to improving the skills and standing of early years practitioners. There appears however to be an ongoing discrepancy between practitioners’ positive commitment to their professional development and the continued focus on the fact that they are somehow lacking and in need of transformation. This paper explores practical and academic self-concepts of early years practitioners, and its association with academic achievement and wider societal perspectives. Individual interviews (n = 10) and three focus group discussions with early years foundation degree students were analysed using a form of discursive psychology. In their arguing and thinking, the practitioners within their self-conceptualisations showed evidence of a transition between two overall identities, one related to their ‘practical identity’ and one related to their ‘educated early years practitioner identity’.