Molly always knew she wanted to work with children but didn’t think working in a nursery or as a teacher was for her. It was attending an open day at Norland that changed her mind.
Now reaching the end of studying her early years degree and close to starting her Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) year in full-time employment, Molly shares her Norland story. She reflects on the importance of placements, the special role of working with children with disabilities and learning difficulties and living as a student in Bath.
“My name is Molly and I’m a Set 43 student in my final year at Norland. I’m originally from a small village in East Berkshire. Before starting at Norland, I went to sixth form and studied A levels in English language and drama and a BTEC in health and social care.
In terms of childcare experience, I’d worked one afternoon a week in a local prep school, as well as babysitting and lots of volunteering with children. I had also worked with children with additional needs and disabilities. When I was in Year 10 at school, I started volunteering one evening a week with a family local to me whose son had Prader-Willi syndrome which is a rare genetic condition that can have a variety of physical symptoms, learning difficulties and behavioural challenges. I also worked short term for a family in London with three children. The middle child had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the oldest child was autistic. I also worked with a family with three children, including a twin with Downs syndrome.
I chose to come to Norland because I always knew that I wanted to work with children but did not want to work in a nursery or as a teacher. I was really struggling with what to do after sixth form and was considering a gap year but then I found Norland and attended an open day. As soon as I visited, I knew that this was what I wanted to do and wanted to start straight away.
When I first found out about Norland, I was worried that no one I knew had really heard of it other than my family. I was also worried about wearing a uniform at university but now I’m here I’m very glad we do, and it’s something I’m so happy to wear. The uniform is something that stands out and represents the brand, and being able to wear it and represent such a long-standing organisation is definitely something that makes me feel proud.
I really enjoy the placements and practical elements of the course. It’s great that we get to experience placements in London prior to the Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) year as this is where many of the NQN jobs are and I know that this is where I’d like to work in the future.
I feel so fortunate to have had a brilliant mix of placements. We get to experience so many settings, including nurseries, special educational needs schools, forest schools, hospitals and with families. In my first year, I had a placement in a toddler room at a private nursery and then had a couple of virtual placements during the first lockdown. In my second year, I did a couple of live-in family placements. The first one was just outside of Salisbury with a five-month and three-year-old. Then I had a daily placement in Melksham, a small town outside of Bath, with 10-month-old twin girls. I finished the year on a residential placement in Mortlake, London with 18-month-old twins.
I started my third year on another live-in family placement in Wimbledon, London with a five-month and three-year-old. I’m starting my final placement soon in Battersea with three-month-old twin girls. I’ve really enjoyed working and gaining experience with children of all ages.
The experiences that come alongside studying at Norland are also things I’m very grateful for. For example, having a placement on a maternity ward and parts of the value-added curriculum such as attending a talk from Debrett’s on etiquette and communication skills, self-defence training and paediatric first aid are all highlights for me.
During the holidays, I’ve had some incredible opportunities with the families that I have worked for while being at Norland. Last summer, I worked with a family in Devon that had four-year-old twins and I went on holiday with them to Barbados for 10 days. This was a fabulous opportunity and, although I was working, I had an amazing time. Being able to take the children swimming, both in the pool and the sea, was brilliant and having so much time to experience another culture was wonderful. It also made me realise how much I would like to travel with families in the future.
Another experience I loved was a live-in nanny job in Chiswick over the Christmas holidays. Being in London around Christmas was so magical. Helping the family to get ready for Christmas and the excitement about all the festivities was so lovely. In the summer, between my first and second year, I lived with a family for a few weeks to take care of their eight-year-old twins. This role was so much fun. I really enjoyed taking them to the park and being able to go out was so exciting for all of us after such a long period in lockdown. I also regularly work for a family with three children near where I live at home. I’ve been working with this family since the summer of 2020 when the twins were born, and it’s been a pleasure to watch them grow.
Bath is a mix between a big town and a small city. There are a lot of students with two other universities in the city, so it has a good social scene. There are so many restaurants, bars and clubs in Bath. Bristol is only a 15-minute train ride away and there is so much to do in Bristol too. I love being in Bath. The Royal Crescent is so beautiful and is always busy on summer evenings. The other lovely thing about Bath are the views and the fact that, because it’s a relatively small city, it’s possible to walk everywhere very easily.
I’d love to travel with nannying in the future and I know that I’d like to work with twins as well. I don’t have too many expectations about what could happen as I just never know where I could end up working! Learning more about breastfeeding and developing my knowledge of newborns is a goal of mine, and I know that the Norland Agency offer Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses exclusively for Norlanders on things like this.
For anyone considering studying at Norland, I’d say if you’re truly passionate about working with children then do it! The opportunity to complete placements in London before NQN is something that I have found invaluable, and each placement has come with its own unique experience. All of them have taught me different things and helped me realise the types of jobs I would like to do in the future. It might seem scary to go to such a specialised university but the training we receive is unparalleled and the experiences we have alongside training are so much fun. Norland to me offers the most in-depth training, the most well-rounded placements and guest lectures from experts in all different areas of childcare and the early years.”