Norland, the world-famous specialist early years higher education provider, celebrated another historic first by awarding its own degrees in its home city of Bath for the first time.

On 31 March, Norland held its degree and diploma graduation ceremonies at the newly restored 16th century Bath Abbey. The 143rd cohort of students (known as Set 43) took its place in history as the first to graduate with a Norland-awarded degree in the city of Bath. The event also marked Norland’s 20th anniversary year in the World Heritage City. The graduands proudly wore the Norland graduation gown in its symbolic colours of brown, blue and gold to receive the degree certificate adorned with Norland’s coat of arms.

The newly designed graduation gown and coat of arms were unveiled in 2022 at Norland’s first degree-awarding ceremonies, which were held at the Celtic Manor International Conference Centre in Wales while Bath Abbey underwent restoration. Norland was granted degree-awarding powers by the Privy Council in 2019, a major step forward in its ambition to become the first specialist early years university in the world. In the same year, the 131-year-old institution achieved a gold rating for the second time in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest standard of undergraduate teaching possible in the UK.

Norland graduates outside the Bath Abbey in Bath, UK

The 142nd cohort of Norland students (known as Set 42) also proudly graduated from their diploma at the event, having earned their Norland degree last year. Diploma graduates traditionally wear the iconic formal Norland uniform to receive their certificate and badge (featuring the speedwell flower that has been a treasured Norland emblem since the very first graduate badges were introduced in the early 1900s). The award of the prestigious Norland diploma officially recognises Set 42 as the latest cohort to earn the coveted professional title Norlander, or Norland Nanny, as fully qualified graduates are known once they have successfully completed both the degree and four-year skills-based diploma.

159 students from sets 42 and 43 attended the degree and diploma ceremonies, proudly witnessed by family, friends, staff, students, employers and other supporters at Bath Abbey. Commencement addresses were given by Lynn Ang, Professor of Early Childhood Education at the Institute of Education at UCL, and Laura Henry-Allain MBE, award-winning international producer, storyteller, educationalist, consultant and the creator of the JoJo and Gran Gran series on CBeebies.

The occasion was especially poignant as the graduates will be among the first to have the opportunity to join the newly established Professional Association of Norlanders (PAN), enabling Norlanders to become members of a professional body like many other professions and offering opportunities to become Norland-endorsed specialists in specific aspects of childcare through postgraduate qualifications.

Norland Nannies in their uniform throwing their hats in the air in celebration inside Bath Abbey

Dr Janet Rose, Principal of Norland, said: “We’re incredibly proud to see our students graduate with a Norland-awarded degree and diploma in our home city of Bath for the first time. This event not only represents a significant milestone in our 131-year history but also aptly marks our 20th anniversary in Bath. Along with the launch of the Professional Association of Norlanders and the world’s first homebased childcare research journal, this event demonstrates how Norland remains at the forefront of raising the status and value of the childcare profession.”

Founded in London in 1892 by education pioneer Emily Ward, Norland was the very first educational establishment to offer any kind of childcare training. In establishing Norland, Emily Ward created the profession of the nursery nurse and the training model on which all future nursery nurse training would be based.

Fully qualified Norland graduates can look forward to outstanding employment opportunities and lifelong career support. Since its infancy, demand for Norland-trained professional early years practitioners has outstripped supply. Norlanders uniquely benefit from 100% employment opportunities through their own in-house employment agency. In 2021/22, the Norland Agency had 10 permanent jobs for every Norlander seeking one and average starting salaries of £40,000 rising to £65,000 after five years, making Norlanders among the highest graduate earners.

Dr Janet Rose speaks at a lectern at Norland's graduation inside Bath Abbey
Norland graduates throwing their mortar boards in the air at their graduation in Bath Abbey
Three Norland graduates smiling outside the Bath Abbey at their graduation ceremony
Three Norland graduates looking over a bannister
A Norland graduate about to have her official photograph
A Norland graduate doffing her cap when on stage at her graduation inside Bath Abbey
Professor Lyn Ang from University College London delivering a speech at Norland's graduation
Male Norland graduates smile at their graduation in Bath
Three Norland Nannies holding their certificates smiling
Laura Henry-Allain MBE delivering a speech at Norland's degree graduation ceremony
A Norland Nanny receiving a trophy at her graduation at Bath Abbey
Norland Nannies in their uniform walking through the Bath Abbey after qualifying as Norlanders
an illustrated etching of a Norland hat

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