Helen’s Story

From reading German and Russian to working with children

"The beauty of the Norland name means you can end up anywhere in the world, so I don't want to limit myself and will continue to say "yes" to as many opportunities that come my way. The Norland name will carry me throughout the rest of my life, and I just need to make sure I carry on living up to the College’s expectations….”

Helen Ward, a Set 40 Norland student, previously began studying Languages at university before reconsidering her ambitions and switching to Norland College for a lifelong career working with children and families. She has now completed her degree and is due to begin her Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) year to attain her Norland Diploma.

"I originally chose to study at the University of Nottingham to read German and Russian. Two months into the course and I realised that I had only gone to university at the time because that's what all my friends had done, and that was a normal thing to do when you're 18. My parents didn't push me into making that decision at all, I just thought it was the right one for me because I loved languages. It turned out that learning languages in a lecture hall was very different to how I thought it was going to be.

I decided to take some time out to re-think my options. Working with children was something I had always thought about and Norland is the best place for early years training. I applied and, unfortunately, wasn't offered a place but I was so determined to study here, that I tried again for the next academic year and got in! Norland was the right choice for me at this time in my life, and if it hadn't happened this way, I wouldn't have met the strong, fabulous and caring friends that I have made.

My time at Norland has been an absolute whirlwind and has gone very quickly. What has really stood out for me are the job opportunities I’ve had as a student. I've lived with the most wonderful family for the past year and watched their children grow, I've been on holiday with a family, I've proxy-parented, I've babysat for celebrities, I've worked in London, I've been in the press. None of this would have been possible if it weren't for the confidence that the variety of Norland placements have given me; they’ve taught me so much about children, families and myself that I believe will make me a really strong nanny.

The beauty of the Norland name means you can end up anywhere in the world, so I don't want to limit myself and will continue to say "yes" to as many opportunities that come my way. The Norland name will carry me throughout the rest of my life, and I just need to make sure I carry on living up to the College’s expectations so that I can commandeer the jobs I want to go after. Even if I move away from nannying into a different early years field, I will still feel like the integrity that has been instilled in me during my time here will hold me in good stead.

People try and compare Norland to traditional universities, and in reality you can't actually do that. Norland is unique in itself in that it is what you make it. I will say, Norland isn't for everyone for various reasons. But if you like working hard, reaping the rewards and feeling like part of a family, then you'll thrive. This is an institution where your Principal knows you by name and stops to talk to you in the hallway. This is an institution where you can email the librarians and they will drop what they are doing to give you more information than you thought was even fathomable. And this is an institution where if you're on your dissertation placement in a foreign country, it's late at night and it's all going wrong, your Vice Principal will call you when she's at home and tell you: "We can fix this together"."