International student Isla reflects on her first year at Norland so far
13 March 2023
International student Isla (Set 46) joined Norland in September 2022. Having left her home in Australia, Isla travelled across the world to attend Norland.
She is a recipient of the Royal Commonwealth Society Scholarship awarded by the Bath and District branch in partnership with Norland. In this article, Isla describes her experience as an international student and shares her tips for making the transition to Norland as smooth as possible.
What childcare experience did you have prior to coming to Norland?
From a young age, I had been helping at church groups, supervising, and assisting with independent play and activities. Prior to coming to Norland, I had no formal childcare training, but I did lots of volunteer work. During high school, I assisted at a martial arts club, where I helped children with their technique, ran activities for them and provided encouragement.
At the same, I also volunteered at a parental support group where I helped in the creche whilst the parents met in the next room. My role included assisting the children in independent play, encouraging them to form relationships with others, running activities such as song time, group reading or a craft. I also made afternoon tea and worked to be a positive role model for both the children and their parents.
What is the Royal Commonwealth Society scholarship?
I was so happy to receive the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) Bath and District branch scholarship, which provided £500 towards my studies. The RCS is an educational charity whose aim is to promote understanding and development of the Commonwealth of Nations. I was kindly notified by Norland’s finance team that I could apply to receive this and had to submit a short essay on how the Norland degree and diploma will benefit my future career and how I will use my newfound skills to give back to the community back home.
I believe that when I eventually return to Australia, I will be able to put my studies into practice by working with a new perspective and skillset which is unique to the Norland experience. As part of my scholarship, I provide feedback on how I will use my studies back home and attend events as a representative of Norland and the Commonwealth.
Out of all the early years roles available to you with your Norland training, what is it about nannying that appeals to you?
Nannying is a career I have chosen to pursue for several reasons. First, that the one-on-one support you can provide for a child is unmatched in any other career. You can really tailor your care for the individual child and holistically provide opportunities for learning and development rather than just through a single lens. This extends to the care side of the role, which I really enjoy. Building a relationship with a child, being someone they can turn to and watching them grow, is really fulfilling. Being a nanny also provides a lot of opportunities, should you wish, to travel and explore new cultures which is something I have always wanted to do.
What has been your favourite part about your Norland experience so far?
Placement has probably been my favourite aspect of my Norland course so far. I have completed my first placement and can say that it really cemented my passion for working with children. I was placed in a toddler room in a small nursery just outside Bath. Being able to spend four weeks working with children with help from the team at the nursery was not only very informative and helped with my learning, but so much fun. Getting to interact with the children, play with them, see their personalities and growth was amazing. Having them learn my name and request help from me specifically was a highlight. I loved every moment of it and was able to see and apply the lessons from class.
The nursery has a forest school approach, which gave me an insight into the positive effect that time outdoors (rain or shine) has on children. This is something I had learned in my lectures in the weeks leading up to placement. There was a lot of time spent outdoors in the garden, which was equipped with an obstacle course, lots of different plants, lots of toys, a campfire, and many other things for the children to explore.
When we weren’t outside, I helped the team run activities such as Christmas crafts, baking a cake, song time, and reading to the children. I also had the opportunity to help with care such as nappy changing, feeding, and helping with nap time. For this, I generally followed the lead of the nursery practitioners since they were fabulous and more experienced than I was, whilst also trying to show initiative where I saw fit. I really focused on using the placement as a learning experience. By the end of my time at Norland, I will have completed over 1,200 hours of placement plus a 12-month fully paid role as a Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) as part of my Norland diploma.
Second to placement, I have loved the sewing lessons. It’s nice to have a creative outlet and learn new skills. Sewing can also be quite peaceful and relaxing when it goes right. However, even if I make a mistake and it goes wrong, the Norland team are very supportive and understanding of the different levels of experience coming into the course.
How have you found settling into Bath, and do you have any advice for other international students?
Moving so far away from my family and friends is a hard transition, but Norland put several things into place in order to make it as easy as possible. I really appreciated all the events and activities Norland staff and students put on during welcome week, such as the day out to Thoulstone Park and the BBQ socials. Current students also organised a skating social which was heaps of fun.
Norland allocates each student a personal tutor, who is our main point of contact if we need any support or questions answered. Norland has a real culture of support. A lot of the older year groups are more than happy to share their experiences and tips. Overall, I feel that anyone at Norland would offer help or point me in the right direction should I need it.
I believe my experiences at Norland in the first few weeks helped me settle into Bath quickly, especially considering that I knew absolutely no one in the area when I first moved. I consciously made the effort to talk to everyone and introduce myself. Everyone I met responded with kindness. Wherever we were from, we were all in the same position of making friends and settling in.
I was excited to be allocated a shared flat with three of my fellow students in a beautiful historic building in Bath. Our non-Norland neighbours have been very friendly and welcoming too. I have gone to events and joined clubs (such as rock climbing), which has helped me meet like-minded people. I even helped start a book club! For any international students planning on coming to Norland, I would encourage trying to do this as much as you can. It has helped me meet some amazing people who are now some of my great friends and people that I can truly count on.
Another thing I would recommend to international students, is to bring as many things as possible that bring you joy (even if they seem unnecessary or silly) to your room in college. I stuffed as many of my clothes, keepsakes, and room décor into my 30kg pink Hello Kitty suitcase as possible, it has really made my room feel like my own.
Do you see yourself returning to Australia to work?
Once I am qualified, I would love to go back to Australia to work. I am going back this coming summer and hope to dive into some work and volunteering with children.
Why did you choose to come to Norland and move to the other side of the world to study?
I chose to move to the UK precisely for the Norland course. I found the curriculum unique and well- suited to my needs as I wanted not only an academic base for my studies with the BA (Hons) early childhood degree, but also the in-depth practical skills and real-world opportunities to work with children. I loved that throughout the course there are so many varied placements – at Norland students spend almost 50% of their time on placements. I am someone who learns through doing, loves interacting with others and am passionate about working with children, so Norland was the perfect place for me.