First-year student Elizabeth (Set 44) is coming to the end of her first term at Norland. Initially planning to join the Navy, seeing an advert for Norland made her realise that she wanted to pursue a career in the early years. She reflects on her determination to study at Norland, how she budgeted during her gap year to cover the costs and the support she’s received since her dyslexia diagnosis.

“I decided to pursue a career in the early years later than many of my peers. Originally, I had planned to join the Navy as a nuclear weapons engineering officer. I focused my GCSE studies on Maths, Physics, History, ICT and French for this. But when choosing my A levels, I started to doubt my career choice. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at college; I was searching for what it was I wanted to do.


a female student in her uniform smiling

“I would recommend Norland to anybody considering a career in early years as the diverse training provides an insight into aspects of early years that you may not ever otherwise consider. It opens doors to so many possible career options upon completion of the course.”

I applied to do History, English Literature and Government and Politics. I knew I would like these subjects and believed I would find a purpose while studying. By Christmas in my first year at college, I was sure that I would go on to do something politics-related, but I was not sure as to what exactly. I ran for the Welsh Youth Parliament in the first year it was set up and gained valuable work experience at Westminster with my MP and at the Welsh government. While I enjoyed this, I was starting to doubt whether politics was something I wanted to spend my life doing.

I came across Norland via a Facebook advertisement. I did my research. Something told me not to scroll past it. I introduced the idea to my parents who supported me in my research and decided to go to an open day. From that day onwards, I knew that I wanted to pursue the field of early years. I also knew that I wanted to do this through studying at Norland. I am the eldest of six and I had some babysitting experience, but I felt my lack of childcare qualifications would set me back. I also failed my first-year A level exams. But I decided I was not going to give up. After all, it took me so long to find a place where I felt I belonged. I decided to move to a new college where I could fast track my History A level and resit exams in English and Government and Politics while studying for my second-year exams. With support from my college, I received internal testing that resulted in gaining support for dyslexia.

I applied to Norland, was offered an interview and decided to show just how driven I was to become a nanny. The day after my 18th birthday, I received a conditional place for deferred entry. I passed my A levels and the offer was changed to unconditional. The only obstacle left in my way was cost. I spoke to my boss and went full time at my job, quickly gained a promotion to supervisor and started studying for my management foundation. I took all the extra shifts I could. I spent the year working multiple jobs and saving. I would save two thirds of my income by paying ‘rent’ to my parents. They would save some of this money for when I joined Norland to contribute to my costs. I saved some myself and gave myself some to spend.

As well as my full-time job, I also worked for the family funeral directors and took a course to develop my understanding of the business and also to practise my essay writing. I worked at rugby stadiums on my days off, supporting games, events and parties. I managed to save enough to pay for my accommodation and set myself a monthly budget. Now I am studying at Norland, I have applied for babysitting jobs and with a clear spreadsheet of costs, savings and predicted income, I am confident that I can afford my studies through working during the holidays.

Just before joining Norland, with advice from Norland’s student support team, I was officially tested for dyslexia and applied for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). Norland have so much support for students who need it, whether tested or not. With a diagnosis, I set off to begin my journey.

So far, what has stood out to me at Norland since the beginning is the support both from staff and peers. The sense of community and a shared passion is unique to Norland. Already as a student I have started a mind and body positivity group and am a member of numerous others.

When applying to Norland, I felt I would miss out on the social aspect that a traditional university life offers. Although COVID-19 has impacted socialising, when I arrived at Norland I instantly felt I was not missing out on anything at all. We have had a socially distanced prosecco picnic and croissant brunch, which I will forever remember as being an incredible experience.

For anybody concerned about how different the student life is at Norland, I can confidently say that you will find your group. I do not believe I have missed out on anything because of choosing Norland. Norland has partnered with Bath Spa University’s Students’ Union to offer membership to Norland students, which is an incredible way to meet other students and participate in a wide range of groups.

I already feel as though I have met friends for life at Norland. I would recommend Norland to anybody considering a career in early years as the diverse training provides an insight into aspects of early years that you may not ever otherwise consider. It opens doors to so many possible career options upon completion of the course.

When I applied for Norland, I wanted to work as a nanny abroad but I have already changed my mind. I want to work as a nanny for multiples with learning and developmental delays. With my training at Norland, I know that I could change my mind numerous times more and still be a confident practitioner in that field with the support from the Norland Agency to find work after graduation.

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