Grounded in history, focused on the future

Founded in 1892 by educational pioneer Emily Ward, Norland was the first educational establishment to offer any kind of childcare training. Emily Ward recognised the need for early years childcare to be more structured, centred around the child, loving and nurturing. Prior to the introduction of formal training at Norland, children would be cared for by ‘untutored’ housemaids before going to school. Training at Norland was based on the founding principles of Fröbel, the German educationalist best known as the originator of the ‘kindergarten system’, and adapted to be more relevant to the needs of young children and their families.

Emily Ward opened Norland on 25 September 1892. Her recently discovered notebook contains over 120 pages of first-hand accounts of the founding days of the Norland Institute, as it was first known, from 14 May 1892 through to 6 November 1919. The handwritten pages contain personal insights into her life during the period and, along with newspaper cuttings, invitations and documents carefully secured onto the pages by Emily, give a unique insight into the time. Emily Ward’s legacy is immortalised through the Emily Ward Bursary, which provides students with the opportunity to obtain a grant towards the cost of their tuition fees.

Along with its location, the curriculum at Norland has changed and progressed with the times to offer the most up-to-date academic childcare training courses and the highest practice standards in line with the latest research. Norland’s worldwide reputation as being at the forefront of early years education and training continues. It now offers an intensive academic degree and skills-based diploma programme, combining cutting edge research and knowledge with practical training. It is our students, past and present, who have been instrumental in establishing Norland’s position as the leader in early years education. Every Norlander carries the responsibility of maintaining our reputation to the highest of standards.

Throughout its constant development Norland’s values have remained the same, with children being at the centre of all decisions and the Norland mottoes ‘Love Never Faileth’ and ‘Fortis In Arduis’ (Strength in Adversity) being central to its values.

female student and little girl blowing dandylion

Some key dates from our history

View our history


Norland is founded

Norland Institute is founded by Emily Ward at Norland Place, London as the first childcare training provider


Uniform supplier introduced

The iconic uniform is supplied by Debenhams and Freebody in Kensington, London


Uniform changes to support the war effort

The uniform changes for new trainees during WWII; capes are replaced with coats to reduce the use of silk to support parachute production


Norland moves to Bath

Norland moves to York Villa, a building originally owned by the Duke of York (son of King George III), in Bath


BA (Hons) degree introduced

Norland continues to pioneer the professionalisation of childcare with the introduction of a BA (Hons) degree


Degree awarding powers granted

Norland is granted Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Privy Council, our first step towards university status

The iconic uniform symbolises the professional status of a Norland Nanny

Emily Ward quickly recognised that Norland Nurses (as Norland graduates were originally known) needed to be recognised as professionals (and not mistaken for housemaids) so she introduced the uniform. Norland Nurses would not only wear the uniform when training but also once qualified in the workplace – they were recognisable wherever they went. 

 The uniform is still a strong part of Norland’s tradition. In the same way that a professional nurse is expected to wear a uniform, Norland students are expected to wear their uniform with pride and adhere to strict uniform guidelines. Norland graduates are no longer expected to wear their uniform when working in a family unless the family specifically wants them to. In 2013, and for the first time in 70 years, a new uniform was unveiled. Designed locally and produced by British manufacturers, the uniform was updated whilst still reflecting Norland’s distinguished heritage.  In 2021, the uniform was updated to offer a gender-neutral option. 

group of Norland students training to become an early years practitioner in formal uniform in their first week studying Norland's early years degree

We’re incredibly proud of our pioneering history

three norland nannies in uniform pushing silver cross carriage prams down the street
female headshot
the very first group of Norland nurses in 1892
Emily Ward's notebook
three Norland nannies in uniform holding plate 1986
two female Norland nannies holding hands of two children on wall in 1900s
Norland nanny uniform helmet for blitz period
Norland nanny and child 1933
group of Norland nannies in uniform 1934
three Norland nannies walking down street in the rain with umbrellas

Our mission and vision

Our mission

Norland’s mission is to uphold and enhance our prestigious reputation and provide a bespoke early years higher education, training and consultancy informed by cutting edge research, and cultivate outstanding graduates with lifelong career opportunities, professional support and continuous learning.

Our vision

  • Norland will continue to build a sustainable and prestigious national and international reputation as a unique and specialist higher education provider of lifelong education, training and employment for outstanding nannies and early years practitioners
  • Students will continue to experience the highest standard of provision and become knowledgeable and skilled graduates with excellent career prospects working in partnership with children, families and communities
  • Norland will contribute to the early years sector by generating cutting edge research, training and consultancy to support the very best in early years provision and in related services both nationally and internationally
  • Norland Agency will actively promote, access and support to Norlanders to facilitate employment opportunities and continuing professional development
  • Norland will proactively engage with stakeholders, the local and wider community, prospective clients and enhance its charitable activities
  • A cohesive, continuous and collaborative learning community will be developed that challenges and enhances the professionalism and expertise of its staff, students and graduates, draws on and promotes their strengths to drive progressive change, and generates leadership capability from within
group of Norland students in uniform standing on balcony

Our Strategic Plan 2017-2022

Read our Strategic Plan

Our Strategic Plan 2017-2022 sets out our mission, vision and values as well as our strategic aims between 2017 and 2022.

Our values underpin everything we do

  • Treat individuals with dignity and consideration
  • Listen to, acknowledge and respond to stakeholders needs
  • Value the contribution of others
  • Value and embrace diversity
  • Consistently deliver and exceed expectations
  • Allow personal and professional integrity to be our guiding value in all we do
  • Foster positive relationships both internally and externally
  • Take ownership of robust policies and procedures
  • Promote and support expertise in every area of the business
  • Pioneer research within the early years field
  • Demonstrate a positive attitude internally and externally
  • Make a positive contribution to wider Norland activities; participate positively in discussions and decision making
  • Go above and beyond for the good of Norland
  • Work hard and do our best in everything we do
  • Enjoy responsibility and be accountable for actions
  • Work together to solve problems and improve practice
  • Celebrate the achievements of self and others
  • Think and act in positive, unique and independent ways; consider solutions rather than barriers
  • Empower others to share ideas and opinions, listen to and engage with them positively
  • Support others to grow and develop by sharing knowledge and expertise
  • Be enthusiastic about our day to day work and the work of Norland
  • Be a role model, demonstrate Norland’s values and behaviours in order to preserve and enhance the reputation of Norland
  • Promote a culture of maximum performance and recognition
  • Challenge behaviour that is not aligned to Norland’s values

Heritage Day 2022

In June 2022, we celebrated our Set 43 students’ diploma work and our 130 years of heritage. Watch what Heritage Day meant to them and how they felt at the end of their degree training as they prepared to embark on their Newly Qualified Nanny year.

TEF gold award
WhatUni student choice award logo
IHE inspiring course winner
Heist silver award winner logo