Inside Norland College – training the world’s most sought-after nannies

Norland College in Bath is training the world’s most sought-after nannies, according to a recent article.

The piece in Business Insider delved into the inner workings of this prestigious childcare academy, which provides unique opportunities for nannies to work for celebrities and the Royals. Norland College has offered childcare training for private household staff for over 125 years. The academy was founded by Emily Ward and its graduates have gone on to care for Prince George and the children of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, according to the article.

Mandy Donaldson, vice principal at Norland College, told Business Insider: “When they’re in uniform, they’re representing 125 years of history and quality.” The uniforms are old-fashioned, made up of a brown felt hat, a pale brown dress and a brown wool shrug, as well as white gloves in the summer and brown gloves in the winter. Male students wear a jacket, shirt, tie and trousers.

Though from the outside it appears the school has fairly stringent rules to follow in regard to composure and appearance, Donaldson insists the trainee nannies are not always on duty: “They’re in a city with other universities and lots of student life, so once they’re not in uniform, we want them to have fun and enjoy themselves.”

Students at Norland College graduate with a three-year BA (Hons) in Early Development and Learning from the University of Gloucestershire and covers a range of subjects. According to the report, the course aims to teach the trainees the theory of social and emotional development they need to properly look after a child. As well as the traditional childcare skills, the trainees are taught to prepare and cook elaborate meals, learn about nutrition, allergies and dietary requirements, sew, make clothes and plan parties.

Though there are many essential skills to learn to prepare the trainee nannies for private household staff roles, Donaldson added: “Every family and child is different – there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution, so they need to have plenty of different strategies in their toolbox so they can understand how the family operates.”

Real-life Mary Poppins handbook discovered

Amid the excitement of the upcoming Mary Poppins remake, a real-life Mary Poppins manual has been found.

According to a report in the Metro, the handwritten manual is by the “real-life” Mary Poppins, whose name was Emily Ward. She founded the most famous childcare academy, Norland College, in 1892. The college, training private household staff, was the first to offer any kind of childcare training, according to the article. The newly discovered manual was written by Emily 125 years ago and covers 1892 to 1919.

The notebook was found by Elizabeth Kerry, a lecturer at Norland College, while she was sorting through old boxes from the college’s previous site in Bath, Somerset. She told South West News Service: “As soon as I opened the first page and saw the handwriting and the date 1892, and I thought ‘oh my goodness, this is Emily Ward’s notebook’. I gently packaged up the book and brought it into the college for the team to see.”

Inside the notebook, Emily has written personal reflections as well as the training manual, expressing her vision for Norland College and her students. In the notebook, Emily wrote: “To the mother means freedom from some of the most wearying anxiety that comes with the care of children, more leisure for her own recreation; pleasure in the company of an educated equal and the help which comes in working hand-in-hand with another bent on the same object.

“To the nurse it means a home where the ordinary domestic virtues of no special market value are appreciated – a position of confidence and trust, a healthful life, and above all, the sense that the character of a future generation is to a certain extent, in her hands.”

The remake of the 1964 classic Mary Poppins will hit cinemas in 2018, with Emily Blunt taking the lead role.

Image credit: Pezibear

How to get children to eat healthy food

As a member of private household staff, you may also have a responsibility to look after the children in the home. Alongside your usual duties, you may be required to provide an example of how to eat and live healthily by preparing meals and maintaining a healthy diet in the family home.

It can be a challenge to encourage children that fruit and vegetables are an important and tasty part of their diet. A recent blog by Wellness Mama said junk food is largely to blame for fussy eaters: “It’s quite obvious, with a quick stroll down the perilous middle aisles of any grocery store, that a lot of food marketing targets children. It is also no secret that obesity and type 2 diabetes are skyrocketing in kids and appearing at younger and younger ages.”

To help encourage children to eat well and enjoy a healthy diet, Wellness Mama recommends a few rules.

Commit to making a healthy, positive change

“When it comes to dietary shifts, you must present a confident front, and believe the information you are telling your kids,” says Wellness Mama. The same applies to nannies caring for children. “Research, meal plan and commit to making this positive change.”

Introduce food gradually

“While your kids won’t make the jump from happy meals to veggie smoothies in a day, they will adapt faster than you expect, and they will learn to love healthy foods. To start, put one small bite of each food you have cooked on a child’s plate.” This encourages children to try new foods without feeling overwhelmed.

Let the children make healthy choices

According to the blog, it is important to continue to give children the option to choose what they eat, within reason: “Whenever possible, let the kids make their own choices on healthy options for food. Not only will they feel better about trying a good they chose, but it will help break down their perception that you have hijacked their ability to eat what they want.”

Set an example

As a member of the private household staff, you will be spending a lot of time with the family and children. It is essential to remember that you will be influencing young minds. According to the blog: “Parenting experts agree that children pick up behaviour based much less on what they are told and much more on what they observe. If they see you routinely eating veggies and enjoying them, they will start to choose it themselves.”

Home cooking

Cooking may or may not be part of your job description in the domestic service sector. If you are looking for a household staff role, it may be worth picking up some home cooking skills just in case. “Your chances of eating healthily drastically increase when you cook at home,” says Wellness Mama. “You have the option of using more natural ingredients and more variety.”

Surge in requests for nannies with unique skillsets

People are increasingly looking for nannies with a unique skillset, according to a recent article. Skills such as yoga, cooking and music are fast becoming popular requirements for UK nannies. According to a 2015 survey by caretaker payroll service Nannytax, over 75% of parents want nannies to offer additional skills as well as traditional childcare, to give their child the best opportunities to succeed later in life.

The bespoke babysitting sector has had a massive boost in recent years. Those considering joining thousands as member of private household staff in the UK could help their career by adding additional talents to their skillset. Whether this involves learning how to cook healthy meals, how to tutor children in specific subjects or teach fitness classes, it is becoming clear that the more skills you possess beside “traditional” nannying, the more employable you are.

There are many courses designed to help nannies, domestic workers, housekeepers and au pairs to cook healthy meals for children. In today’s world of clean eating and an emphasis on nutrition, it is helpful to know the basics of healthy cooking.

When it comes to languages, it is often debated on nannying and parenting blogs which languages are the most useful to learn in this profession. Popular languages required include Mandarin, Spanish and sign language. Beauchamp Partners currently has a vacancy for a Mandarin speaking nanny in Oxfordshire. Learning a new language is also extremely useful if you’re considering taking your career abroad.

Learning a new skill can only be a good thing when it comes to domestic service. In an ever-changing world, being as dynamic as you can in your profession will serve you well.