This week we spoke to a Norland Nanny in training - Sarah, who is in her 3rd year at Norland College. If you haven't heard of Norland - you should have done! Norland nannies are the best in the business, and their graduates go on to work with the rich and famous and royalty worldwide.
So to find out how Sarah was accepted to Norland College and hear more about her experiences - read on!
What made you decide to start training as a Norland Nanny?
I actually overheard a friend of my father’s talking about how his daughter had just started training at Norland College and judging from my Dad's response, I knew this was something special. I went on to do some research into the facility and immediately knew this was where I wanted to continue my studies.
Following on from this, I was fortunate enough to be part of a guest presentation by a first year Norland student, who was a former pupil of the sixth form. Her description of the course consolidated my ambition to train there. She spoke about the uniqueness of the three year course as well as the exciting, endless Norland Nanny job opportunities it can offer.
How to become a Norland Nanny?
Having always had an ambition to work in the field of childcare, I tailored my GCSE and A level options around this, selecting Child Development and Health and Social Care amongst my choices. Knowing the limited intake numbers Norland allow per year, I tried to support my chances of being accepted by tailoring my work experiences, both at school and voluntarily, around childcare in the hope this would demonstrate my passion and eagerness to pursue this as a future career.
I was lucky enough to gain experiences within nurseries, schools, after-school clubs and in family homes, which strongly assisted me when writing my personal statement. Dismissing all other options and knowing Norland was the only place that I wanted to go, I attended an open day along with my parents, where I met staff and students, who only served to further increase my dream of attending Norland College.
Remembering your first day of training, how did you feel? How did you find settling in?
Having decided to commute from my home in Bristol to Norland daily I was in a minority, which left me feeling concerned that I would have a hard time finding my feet and bonding with other students. However, these fears were unfounded as I quickly saw how much of a welcoming, family-like atmosphere the college offered. I certainly felt nervous on my first day, as I am sure most people do when starting a new adventure, but I couldn’t ignore the underlying excitement that I felt when I first stepped through the main doors dressed in my uniform for the first time. I was immediately put at ease when welcomed by a lecturer who reassured me and directed me to the common room, where I found myself surrounded by other students who were all feeling just as nervous yet excited as I was.
Settling in is greatly assisted at Norland by the fact that first years are there in isolation for the first week, so there is ample opportunity to familiarise yourself with the college, the staff and your fellow students. In hindsight it is easy to say "don’t be nervous", but I think it is a natural reaction you can't help but feel. What I would say to anyone following this path is that the excitement you feel quickly dismisses any nerves and that you will never forget your first few days – for all the right reasons!
What does a typical week in training as a Norland Nanny look like?
With regards to the first and second year of training at Norland, the week typically consists of two full lecture days, where you are taught the modules needed to complete your BA Hons degree, and a practical day where you complete your sewing and food and nutrition lectures. The two degree lecture days are split into four blocks, each block teaching a different module.
The degree modules are highly varied and so far my favourite has been ‘Thriving in a Diverse Society,’ where we were taught key legislation to ensure inclusion, as this enabled us to analyse professional practices to promote the support of all children and their individual differences and needs. Each module has a different form of assessment and they can be anything, including essays, presentations, literature reviews and oral discussions – to name a few! Our practical days consist of a sewing lecture and a food and nutrition lecture.
Sewing lectures can have their tricky moments but the support of the staff allows for our creative ideas to come to life as we make Personalised zip bags, child aprons, bunting and more.
Food and nutrition lectures allow students to build on their kitchen hygiene, cooking skills and general kitchen knowledge, much needed when cooking for young children! We learn all about food allergies and intolerances, nutritional guidelines and weaning stages. Our days off are normally spent working on assessments or catching up on practical work. We do, however, occasionally have masterclasses; lectures that are carefully designed to fill us in on any gaps there may be that haven’t been covered during our college timetable.
We also have masterclasses; lectures that focus on a particular aspect of childcare. A masterclass can be on anything from hand-washing or bottle making, to pram cleaning and baby bathing. Although our weeks can be fairly intense, they are always fun filled and there is never a dull moment, as the lectures are always designed to be informative but in a fun and engaging way!
What did you find most difficult about your training?
I think it is fair to say that Norland does not fit the bracket of a typical university experience. From what I have been told, typical student life involves partying and attending lectures when it suits, unless you have the self-discipline to knuckle down. However at Norland, although I have found friends for life and thoroughly enjoyed my time to date, the course content always comes first in my mind and as a set year group we always encourage one another to follow this doctrine. Between placements, degree modules and diploma sessions, it is certainly a demanding degree which requires maximum effort and concentration. I actually think this rigorous course is what separates Norland from the rest. Although the workload can be testing, the tight knit community at Norland of nannies all working towards to same goal means there is always help readily available from tutors, peers and lecturers.
Are you able to pinpoint the biggest way your Norland Nanny training has impacted your childcare skills?
Although I still have a long way to go in my training, what I have completed so far has most certainly changed my whole skill set and who I am as a practitioner. Before Norland, I was not particularly confident in applying the little knowledge I did have in the field of childcare. However, Norland prepares its students to handle and overcome whatever situation they find themselves in, and I think this is what allows for their students to feel confident in themselves when working with families. I am certainly a much more confident working professional when compared to who I was before my studies.
For example, before my training I was unaware of the vast amounts of undeniable benefits that play can have on a child’s learning. This new knowledge has allowed me, as a practitioner, to be able to constantly adapt to a child’s individual needs in order to plan age and stage appropriate activities, which can assist the child’s overall development.
My time at Norland has also taught me a lot about taking pride in small self-care habits which can have a knock on effect on my charges if not implemented. Before my training I would have been oblivious to these practices. Our uniform guidelines, which may be seen as over the top by some, all have good reasoning behind them. For example, ensuring our nails are trimmed avoids scratching delicate skin, keeping hair back avoids hair tourniquets, appropriate footwear reduces the risk of slipping and thorough hygiene techniques promote a clean working environment and healthy lifestyle. I am certainly a different Early Years practitioner compared with my previous training, but for all the right reasons! I feel as I complete the rest of my training and embark on my nannying career, I will constantly be changing my skill set to suit those I am caring for.
What are your plans for when you complete your training? Where do you ideally see yourself 5 years from now?
In five years’ time, I will have finished my BA degree in Early Years Development and Learning and my Newly Qualified Nanny year. I'm looking forward to being a fully qualified Norland nanny who has 2-3 years experience under my belt.
This Newly Qualified Nanny year is the fourth year of the course, where students obtain a full time nannying job whilst being monitored by the college, as well as completing additional college work in order to obtain the Norland Diploma. I would ideally be a full-time nanny, live-in or live-out, to a welcoming family with whom I can build a great relationship with both parents and my charges.
I have no preference as to where the job is, which I think is what makes the nannying lifestyle so exciting – you never know where it will take you! Although I have no idea what my future holds, I am certainly looking forward to finding a permanent job where I can put my all into caring, nurturing and shaping the lives of the little ones in my care.
Norland is a firm believer in continuing professional development, which is the regular participation in learning, developing and enhancing skills and abilities. With this in mind I can definitely see myself partaking in further courses such as maternity nursing, as I have always been passionate about working with new-born children. I have completed a placement with a family who had a new-born girl and a two-year old sister, which further fuelled this passion. All I can say for now is that the immediate future of my nannying career excites me a lot!
What advice would you give to others who are considering training professionally as a nanny?
My biggest piece of advice to those interested in training to become a nanny is to go for it! There truly are a million and one reasons why this career path is such an amazing one to take. I would certainly advise that you take every experience you can to gain an idea of the busy and demanding life of a nanny, as it certainly keeps you on your toes (in a good way of course!). No day as a nanny is the same as we all know children change by the second, constantly developing and finding their personality, so it is important that anyone considering this career is able to adapt their practice to suit the individual needs of each child they care for.
Although there are plenty of ways you can become a nanny, Norland will guide you to become the best one you can be, as you are taught the ins and outs of everything - and I mean everything! The Norland agency only works with nannies that have completed their studies at the college. Training at Norland will ensure you are prepared in every element of nannying there is, from laundry to sleep routines and so much more.
If Norland is your dream, as it was mine, I would advise that you tailor your studies to show your commitment to learning all about the subject, and ensure your personal statement when applying really allows for your passion for childcare to shine through. I think that what is so amazing about Norland is that when interviewing, it is not about how smart you are or how high your grades are (although they are, of course, considered) - it is more about ensuring you have the skill set and ambition to work hard and persistently focus to achieve gaining the status of a qualified Norland nanny.
Training to become a nanny is certainly not an easy task but it really is the most rewarding, enjoyable job there is and if you give it your all, you simply cannot fail; and you will never work a boring day in your life!
Sarah Cook is in her 3rd and final year at Norland College.
You can follow her continuing adventures over on her Instagram profile
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