The study examined the contribution of the BA Childhood Practice work-based degree to professional and personal development, including leadership skills, analysed in relation to relevant models of professional development. It drew upon evidence from three university providers, from research assignments, subsequent questionnaires and interviews with students. A phenomenographical approach was used to identify the perceptions of learning and affective experiences. In discussing the nature of professional development, the paper draws on theoretical frameworks and the Standard for Childhood Practice. Findings revealed that characteristics identified in these models were evident in the degree, the most influential being knowledge and understanding, critical awareness, and changes to values and beliefs. These aspects promoted leadership and quality and underpinned increased self-confidence. The main issue that emerged was the significance of a work-based model which promotes the development of higher level skills; this is relevant across professions.