This paper explores how second year students of an Early Years and Childhood Studies degree support children in their social development, relationship building, conflict resolution and formation of personal identities, during their work based professional practice placements. Allied to this, the continuing professional development of the student practitioner in formulating his/her own professional identity as an early years' practitioner is explored. The methodology utilised was qualitative. It included focus group interviews with student practitioners, classroom observations and student reflections. The ten students who participated in the study were all volunteers, and they were assured of anonymity and that participation would not in any way affect their assessments. They were invited to reflect on their own developing identity as early years professionals, and on their role, currently and in the future, in supporting the development of young children in pre-school settings. The affordances and constraints of their roles as both students and practitioners were explored.