Prestigious nanny college welcomes highest number of male recruits

Man straightening tie

Rightly or wrongly, the role of professional childcare has long been regarded as the domain of female workers. From Mary Poppins onwards, the image of a wise, maternal lady calmly overseeing our precious children is surely what comes to mind when we think of nannies, governesses and housekeepers alike.

With the possible exception of Mrs Doubtfire, there have been no famous male nannies – either fictional or real – in living memory. However, the recent intake numbers for arguably the most famous of all nanny training facilities show that, little by little, the days of professional domestic childcare always being classed as a job for women may be nearing an end.

This Telegraph article recently reported that Norland College in Bath, which it describes as “the world’s most elite nanny training school”, has just reported its highest ever intake of male pupils for its renowned Early Years Development and Learning BA degree.

‘Where do I sign up?’

Whilst this development has made headlines around the private domestic staff industry, it is important not to overstate the numbers of men involved – after all, only four of the 103-strong 2017 first year class are male.

Nevertheless, the very fact that this is a record-high number shows the extent to which being a nanny has previously been a profession so one-sided in terms of gender that being female could almost have been mistaken for a requirement.

Many within the sector, however, are now extremely confident that this apparently small step towards breaking down gender barriers could be the start of something much bigger, with the director of one agency being positively bullish about this prospect when questioned by the Telegraph: “With social barriers slowly-but-surely breaking down, we predict the trend to continue and for there to begin to be a balance in the numbers of females and males entering the sector.”

Being a nanny to the great and good can be a particularly rewarding career choice, and one of the new male recruits at Norland – 19-year-old Gregory Ridley – summarised why it is a path being taken by more and more young people, regardless of sex: “When my mates found out that I was coming to Norland at first they were really unimpressed. But then I told them about the salary and they said ‘Can I come?! Where do I sign up?’”.

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Six-figure salary and supercar access offered in nanny job advert

Interior of Maserati

In August, a job listing for a nanny appeared which gained hundreds of applicants in a matter of days. The reason? Well, that may have something to do with the $129,000 salary, access to a range of supercars, and regular meals provided by a Michelin-starred chef being offered.

The perks available to those who successfully fill household staff vacancies advertised by the rich and famous are well-known, but it would be fair to say that the benefits of this particular job may surprise even the most experienced of nannies.

The family, who are based in London but also have homes in Barbados, Cape Town and Atlanta, have four children between the ages of two and 15, so whoever the successful applicant is will certainly have their work cut out for them, even if the rewards associated with the job are substantial.

Despite the high number of applicants, however, the family may struggle to find the Mary Poppins-like individual they are intent on hiring, as the job requirements include having a certificate in self-defence, 15 years’ nannying experience, and a degree in child psychology.

13-hour days await successful candidate

The advert also includes a warning that the successful candidate will be expected to work for 13 hours each day (this in itself will not come as a shock to the thousands of hard-working nannies across the UK), and may need to travel internationally up to three times each week.

Anyone who has already worked as a nanny will, of course, already be aware that it is not always a life of glitz and glamour, and can indeed be one of the most challenging of all occupations.

Indeed, Business Insider’s personal finance correspondent Tanza Loudenback was quoted in this Independent article as saying that “research on affluence suggests children coming up in wealthy households have ‘comparable levels of delinquency’ to lower-income households”. All potential applicants should be aware, therefore, that just because they will be well-remunerated, being a nanny is never a walk in the park.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg MP celebrates family’s loyal nanny

Jacob Rees-Mogg giving speech

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Member of Parliament for North East Somerset, has taken the unusual move of putting his family’s nanny front and centre in a photograph of his sixth child’s christening.

The photo, which can be seen in this Telegraph article, shows professional nanny Veronica Crook – who has served the Rees-Mogg family for an extraordinary 52 years – proudly holding baby Sixtus in her arms, surrounded by the happy parents and their five other children.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who has recently become an unlikely social media celebrity to the point where he has had to play down reports of ambitions to become the next Conservative Party leader, previously spoke to the same newspaper about the pivotal role Veronica has played in his life and the lives of his children.

“Although nannies who cover more than one generation are rare, those like Veronica Crook – who looked after me and now looks after my four children – are pearls of great price”, the MP wrote.

Rees-Mogg praises ‘continuity and stability’ of nannies

With six children and a working life as an MP, it is understandable that Rees-Mogg relies upon the expertise of Ms Crook, and he was keen to praise the work done by nannies all over the country (something which should be reassuring for anyone who is considering contacting a private household staff agency for their own family’s needs): “They provide a continuity and stability for a family that is of inestimable value for the child and, indeed, the man.”

In our last blog, we wrote about the growing trend of so-called ‘helicopter nannies’, who are employed beyond the traditional length of time and on into a child’s late teenage years. Even Mr Rees-Mogg, however, accepts that still being dependent on his childhood nanny at the age of 48 is particularly unusual: “In my own case I have been blessed to have such a good, reliable and devoted nanny, even if it has led to me being deservedly teased about it from time to time.”

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More nannies being employed into children’s teenage years

Mary Poppins flying over London

The role of the nanny is traditionally seen as someone who flies into a child’s life (quite literally in the case of Mary Poppins, fiction’s most famous nanny), looks after them for their formative primary school years, and is then gone again in what seems like a flash.

However, a recent Telegraph article has revealed the extent to which this state of affairs is now quickly becoming a thing of the past, as so-called ‘helicopter nannies’ are being employed well into the teenage years of the children they were called upon to help bring up.

The phrase is an adaptation of the concept of ‘helicopter parents’, which tends to be applied in a negative way to mothers and fathers who are seen as being an overbearing influence and imposing themselves on every aspect of their child’s life.

It is perhaps unfair, therefore, to refer to the growing band of nannies looking after teenagers in these terms, as the reality is that these household staff company representatives provide an increasingly invaluable service in our busy modern world.

More ex-teachers becoming ‘helicopter nannies’

One of the most famous advocates of this new breed of nanny is the BBC television presenter Fiona Bruce, whose children are still supervised by a paid guardian, despite being 15 and 19. As she explained in an interview with the Daily Mail, “I’m working a lot and my husband works a lot, too, and it’s really important for me that someone is in the house when Mia comes in from school”.

The aforementioned Telegraph article quotes one director of a nanny agency as saying that many ex-teachers are now becoming ‘helicopter nannies’, largely due to the academic intelligence and diverse skill set that is required – and, of course, the attraction of excellent remuneration.

The source is quoted as saying that “with children aged 12 and above, [parents] want someone with a teaching or tutoring background, and some PA skills, so someone who is willing to do not just the children’s organising…but also someone who might book flights for the parents or do some background work on places to stay”.

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Nanny to the stars shares her ultimate childcare tips

Crying child

One of the most famous so-called ‘supernannies’ in the world has spoken to the Daily Mail about what she thinks are the most important parts of parenthood – and it may not be easy reading for new mothers and fathers!

69-year-old Rachel Waddilove, who was speaking to the newspaper’s online Femail section, told an interviewer that the single most important thing parents must do is ensure their children do not become ‘kingpins’ within the family home.

Waddilove, who has famously provided live-in childcare guidance to celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Minnie Driver, spoke with passion about what she believes are parents ‘becoming much more fixated and children becoming the kingpin.’ She explained her exasperation over how so many mums and dads ‘fall about to make sure the little person has got everything they want, and that’s not really how it should be’.

The Exeter-based nanny, who has three children of her own and has confirmed that she has no plans to retire any time soon, spoke of the importance of laying down boundaries which children can learn to respect. Most vital of all, she says, is enforcing a strict routine when it comes to turning out the light: ‘It’s really important that children know that they have to stay in their beds. [Otherwise] you have children up at 5am, and by 8am everyone is knackered’.

New parents must have a social life, says Waddilove

Despite Waddilove extolling the benefits of having a clear structure when it comes to childcare, however, she is also keen to point out that parents cannot be afraid to enjoy a little flexibility in their own lives, if they wish to maximise both their and their children’s happiness. ‘You must have a life’, Waddilove explains, adding that mothers in particular should not ‘have a routine that’s so strict you have to be back at certain times or can’t go out…get out and see other people’.

With the busy modern world full of so many competing demands, being a successful parent can sometimes feel like the most difficult job of all. However, with the assistance of expert private house staff like Waddilove, mothers and fathers can get the help they need to balance their personal and professional responsibilities, and be able to truly appreciate the most rewarding experience of their lives.

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Would you take £50,000 for being the nanny in a haunted house?

Ghost

If you speak to any nannies or other household domestic staff about what they think is the most challenging part of their job, they may provide any number of answers: meeting high expectations, juggling responsibilities and impeccable time management are all things that successful household workers need to become experts at.

It is unlikely, however, that constantly being bothered by ghosts would rank very highly on the list of most nannies’ complaints. Nevertheless, this is exactly the reason why a family based in the Scottish Borders are desperately struggling to fill the otherwise attractive vacancy in their household – a job which is now worth £50,000 to the successful applicant.

This bizarre story – which has been reported on by a number of media outlets, including the Telegraph – came to light when the family in question advertised the role online. After it was noticed that the listing offered a surprisingly high level of remuneration, the mother of the two children who require looking after felt compelled to explain the situation: ‘Five nannies have left the role in the last year, each citing supernatural incidents as the reason, including strange noises, broken glass and furniture moving’, she said.

Family ‘Happy to pay above the asking rate’

The stories surrounding the supposedly haunted house have inevitably led to questions over why the family continue to live in the property, but the parents remain defiant despite their unenviable record at retaining nannies, explaining how their home is ‘lovely, spacious [and] historic…with spectacular views’.

Insistent that the family themselves have not been on the receiving end of any nasty supernatural surprises in their almost 10 years of living there, the mother added that she understood why securing a long-term employee has been difficult, and that the family is ‘happy to pay above the asking rate, and feel it’s important to be as up-front as possible’.

The job involves looking after a five and seven-year-old pair of siblings and, at the time of writing, is (unsurprisingly) still open to applicants!

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Handy apps for household staff

Healthy cooking

While household staff are expected to be organised at all times, there are a few apps that can make things easier. Whether you need inspiration for healthy meals or ideas for activities, downloading a few free and helpful apps can take the stress out of some daily tasks.

EatingWell

It’s now fairly common for household staff to be required to cook healthy meals for families. With the rise of clean eating and vegetarian/vegan diets, it’s important to keep your meals varied and to bookmark a few recipes for fussy children. Award-winning magazine and website EatingWell has an app for “fast, easy and delicious recipes” which even allows you to save recipes and ingredients lists for when you go food shopping. Healthy in a Hurry is available for free on iOS and Android.

Kids Craft Ideas

For nannies in need of inspiration for creative activities, Kids Craft Ideas is an incredibly useful app. As well as browsing vibrant galleries of craft examples, you can share your own with others. The app is particularly helpful for seasonal craft ideas and will keep children busy for hours. So you’ll be prepared to get creative for Christmas, Halloween and Easter.

Yummly

This app is designed to help you find recipes tailored to certain health needs. Whether you’re dealing with a picky eater in the family or someone with a food intolerance, Yummly matches over 1 million recipes to your cooking lifestyles. You can add entire recipes to your shopping list and save your favourites, so you’ll never be without inspiration for a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan or vegetarian meal.

Those working as private household staff should aim to keep up to date with the latest health food trends and seek inspiration for new and exciting ideas for activities. That way you will continue to discover new ways to put your skills to use.

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Warning over misleading sun cream labels for kids

Sun cream

A nanny in Manchester has warned parents and household staff to check UV ratings of sun creams and not just the factor. Carly King shared a post on Facebook when a child she cared for caught the sun while wearing a brand with factor 50+ but with low UV protection.

King also spoke to a friend whose little girl had been sunburned at a nursery and was not aware she had to check the UV ratings. According to Manchester Evening News, King said in her post: “I’ve seen so many people say ‘I used factor 50+ and my child is pink/red etc! When buying sun cream PLEASE make sure you check the UVA star guide! Ambre Solaire being one of the good ‘brands’ deemed very high protection at 3*** and a £7 bottle, but Asda own brand at £3 is 5*****.”

The nanny said she was disappointed that she’d bought into “trusted quality brands” but felt let down. King added: “The boy I nanny for was outside for 25 mins in 22 degrees! I covered him in cream every half hour and half hour before he goes out! Children burning whilst using spf 50+ shouldn’t be happening!”

Explaining why she posted this, King told M.E.N’s Manchester Family: “I was in Asda looking at sun cream for myself to take on holiday and on the phone to my friend who I mentioned. I was beginning to notice how misleading some of the sun screens actually are. I’d researched best cream for children in the UK to find one for the little boy at work.”

King went on to explain that she only became aware of the UVA/UVB ratings during her previous role at a company selling health products. She added: “Being a nanny I thought it would be a good idea to raise awareness and hopefully help others realise what to look for.”

British nanny changes her name to Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins umbrella

A British nanny has changed her name to Mary Poppins after allegedly being likened to the fictional character by her clients.

According to a report by Huffington Post, Mary Poppins, formerly known as Emma Davenport, has been working as a nanny since she was 18 years old and has even dressed as the character as part of her job. She has now legally changed her name.

Poppins said: “I’ve always been told by my clients and the children I care for that I look and act like Mary Poppins, which is wonderful because she’s one of my favourite Disney characters and someone I certainly aspire to be like professionally.”

Mrs Poppins previously joked with her husband about changing her name, according to the article. She added: “I dress up as Mary anyway for the children at parties and they and their parents always call me Mary, so when he responded with ‘why not, the children would love it and it might give you an edge’, I decided to do a bit of research.

“My own little girl is so excited and keeps saying ‘mummy is Mary!’ and my nanny children think I’m definitely Mary Poppins now.”

The nanny’s name change has certainly attracted attention, and the response has been fairly positive. Richard Conway, CEO and founder of Childcare.co.uk, told the Huffington Post: “Mary contacted us last week to notify us that she’d changed her name to Mary Poppins and asked whether she could update her profile to reflect her new name. Of course we think it’s a wonderful idea and fully encourage her to embrace her new identity professionally.

“With an already glowing reputation as a top-class nanny, we’re sure that the name change will only make Mrs Poppins even more popular amongst parents and children.”

There are plenty of opportunities to shine with positions offered by nanny agency Beauchamp Partners, whether you’re seeking work as a housekeeper, nanny or house manager.

Norland College students receive anti-terrorism training

Norland College training

Student nannies at the prestigious Norland College will now undergo anti-terrorism training as part of their course. The aspiring nannies are being instructed by the former head of UK counter terrorism on how to protect their charges from the threat of kidnappers and terror gangs.

According to an article in The Telegraph, the move follows growing demand for Norland nannies among the rich and famous, whose children may be targeted for ransom demands. The students are learning how to foil a possible attack and are undertaking self-defence lessons, along with evasive driving techniques.

Brigadier Paul Gibson, former director of counter terrorism, is also helping the students to learn how to avoid revealing potentially sensitive information on social media, which could be used to target the children. This includes posting any details on locations, frequent routines and favourite meeting places.

“The range of threats exposed to high net worth and high profile individuals and their families is extensive,” said Brigadier Gibson. “The role of the nanny in looking after their children puts them in a unique position to both be targeted and to act as a credible obstacle to actions such as kidnap.

“By understanding how a pattern of life is established through social media and direct observation, mitigating actions can be put in place to best protect the nannies and their charges. Our training provides the nannies with a foundation to think ahead and prepare for potentially threatening changes in their environment, a skill they can apply to every aspect of their lives.”

As part of the training, the nannies are advised to always keep an emergency bag at hand with spare clothes for the children and any other equipment they might need to make a quick escape. These additional skills are a far cry from the traditions of Norland College, which was established in 1892. The roles of private household staff are ever-changing to adapt to modern life and the threats posed, however as Norland College evolves with the times, it continues to maintain the high standard of training that has become associated with it.