Friday, 2 September 2016

A postcard from China

Hannah visited the
Great Wall of China
Author: Hannah Wills, Set 39

This summer I had a fantastic time in China as part of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYCGB). 

We flew out to China on 1st August and in total performed four concerts; Tianjin Grand Theatre, Beijing Concert Hall, Shanghai Concert Hall and finally AC Hall at Hong Kong Baptist University. 

We have also travelled to the Forbidden City, The Great Wall of China and Temple of Heaven. Throughout the trip we sang traditional Chinese song, and pieces from a variety of different British composers such as Benjamin Britten. 

Hannah met with Chinese twin girls
I have met some lovely locals including some wonderful Chinese twin girls. I am looking forward to telling my friends at Norland all about this amazing opportunity!

Hannah is in Set 39 and returns to Norland in September to begin her second year of studying. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Norland College receives first ever National Student Survey results

We’re pleased to announce the results of Norland College’s first ever National Student Survey (NSS). 

The NSS, which has been running since 2005, is a UK-wide survey of students in the final year of an undergraduate course, though this is the first time Norland College has participated. The survey gives students the opportunity to provide public feedback about the institution and their course. 95% of our final year students took part in the survey.

95% of our eligible students
The results are extremely positive, as expected, and we welcome the news that Norland has achieved an above sector average score of 90% for overall satisfaction. What shines through really clearly is the recognition of strong career opportunities for Norland graduates – with 100% of participants agreeing with the following statement, of which 94% ‘definitely agreed’: “As a result of my course, I believe that I have improved my career prospects.”

The employability of Norlanders is enhanced not only through work placements, which prepare our students for employment, but also through the practical skills gained throughout their time at Norland. The prestigious Norland Diploma runs alongside the degree course and gives our students the opportunity to put theory into practice and gain real-world experience with children. Alongside Norland’s heritage and tradition, the Norland Diploma is part of what distinguishes Norlanders from other Early Years graduates – and makes them highly sought after. That’s why Norland graduates command an average starting salary of £26,000 with huge potential and demand for their services consistently greater than the number of nannies available to place.

Dr Janet Rose became
Norland Principal on 18 June 2016
Dr Janet Rose, Norland Principal, commented: “We strive to offer best-in-class Early Years education to our students and to strengthen their career prospects upon graduating with regular Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses and the best possible representation through our very own dedicated Norland Agency. Norland College is renowned for its heritage and tradition, and we’re using those solid foundations from which to build a positive, prosperous future for our students.”

For more information about studying at Norland College, visit

Friday, 5 August 2016

Professionalism in the Early Years - What Does it Mean to Practitioners?

Author: Amalia Austin, Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN), Set 37

Amalia is now a
Newly Qualified Nanny
I was thrilled in February 2013 to be offered a place at Norland and start to fulfil my goal of becoming an outstanding Early Years practitioner (EYP) and Norland Nanny. However, teachers and family members asked me, ‘if you want to work with children, why don’t you do something worthwhile and train as a primary teacher?’ It was this which inspired me in my final year to explore why working in the Early Years seemingly achieves lower regard than other vocational roles, such as teaching and nursing. Here I explore how I undertook my research and some of the key findings and subsequent recommendations I put forward to improve professionalism in the Early Years sector, with specific focus on the role of a Nanny.

The aims of the research project were to investigate and analyse the factors which EYPs believe contribute to their overall professionalism, as well as examine the effect professionalism has on their practice. 

Research Methods

I decided the best data collection method for this project was a questionnaire with a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions to allow for in depth analysis. I asked for responses from practitioners in a day nursery in Bath, from students and lecturers at Norland College and from a wider network of EYPs via a social media site. All of the participants were asked the following questions:

Please briefly define professionalism, as you understand it
How long have you worked as an EYP?
Why did you decide to become an EYP?
What are the most satisfying aspects of your job?
What are the least satisfying aspects of your job?
To what extent do you feel professionalism is important for an EYP? Why?
To what extent do you feel professionalism influences your practice as an EYP?
In what ways do you feel professionalism influences your practice as an EYP?
What factors do you feel are a barrier to your professionalism as an EYP?

The response was overwhelming; the questionnaire was completed 60 times in just 36 hours and I had my data! 

What I found out 

The responses showed that EYPs recognise the significance of their role within the sector in ‘achieving’ and ‘improving’ outcomes for children. However, it also showed that this recognition is not perceived by EYPs from the government and other professionals, and this ‘lack of recognition’ is a barrier to professionalism and can be demotivating to practitioners within the Early Years sector. 

Amalia supporting the
'Lace Up For Bones' initiative
in her Norland College uniform
Conversely, respondents noted ‘applying theory to practice’ as a satisfying element of the role and the ‘bad practice’ of others as a barrier to professionalism. This highlights the significance of how effective training is linked to job satisfaction and quality of practice, as supported by Martin et al (2010), who outline the link between training and increased professionalism. This is also supported by Jorde-Bloom (1988) who notes the relationship between professionalism, job satisfaction and effort. EYPs are willing to expand on the role, suggesting that the greater the professionalism, the greater the resultant perception of professionalism, quality of practice and achievement of positive outcomes for the children. 

The research identified ‘bad practice’ and ‘lack of regulation’ as barriers to professionalism. This suggests that either current qualifications do not sufficiently prepare EYPs to deliver effective and professional practice, or that training is not sufficiently exacting to deliver the standard of practice necessary to acquire professional status. 

One of the things that stood out to me in the responses was that to most EYPs professionalism was not about the need for reward, but more about the service provision, regulation and standards, personal characteristics and recognition of the workforce as a profession. In short most EYPs are seeking greater recognition and accountability for their profession and themselves as professionals. Whilst they value the work they do, they feel undervalued by society, something I can relate to from the reactions I initially received from friends and family when choosing Norland. 

How do we raise professionalism in Early Years? 

Based on my research I think raising professionalism in Early Years requires a predominantly top-down approach to make real changes. Other than modelling the characteristics of professionalism as defined by EYPs, more needs to be done to recognise the profession as exactly that. Therefore, the recommendations I put forward below are directed not just towards my fellow Newly Qualified Nannies (NQNs) or other EYPs, but towards policy makers for the workforce:
  1. More rigorous and clear qualifications system for EYPs, in alignment with the findings of the Nutbrown Review.
  2. Regulation / registration of Nannies - The research supports a recommendation to regulate aspects of practice.  Consideration of this, alongside the EYFS (2014) concept of the Unique Child and the findings of the REPEY report (Siraj-Blatchford et al., 2002) which suggests that standardising practice would be counter-intuitive to delivering effective practice, it is recommended that EYPs could be regulated through the use of a registration number upon qualifying, as suggested by the Regulation Matters Campaign and in the manner of EYPs with Early Years Professional Status (Teaching Agency, 2012). This could then be used to enforce and monitor a sector-wide code of ethics and a requirement to access a requisite number of hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) each year.
  3. The research suggests that action be taken to alleviate poor conditions, through streamlining the amount of paperwork expected of EYPs and that the financial barriers should be alleviated through increased funding to the sector, as well as increased rates of pay for EYPs. 

I believe that, whilst I am among many Early Years practitioners who consider themselves to be a professional, until this is recognised by the government and other professionals, EYPs will struggle to achieve the status so many in the sector believe and feel the career deserves. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

Norland appalled by Andrea Leadsom male nanny comments

"Norland is absolutely appalled by the comments made by Andrea Leadsom about employing male Nannies.

Norland supports and encourages initiatives to increase the numbers of men in the childcare sector and welcomes male applicants.  We recognise the benefits to children of having both male and female role models. Men can bring a wealth of different experiences and attributes to the role and with the changing family dynamics we see in society today, male nannies can provide a consistent male role model within the family home. As a society, we strive for equality; someone in public office making such a statement erodes the efforts of many to achieve this. A career working with children is rewarding and challenging and men should not be discouraged from making such a choice; families should choose a Nanny who is the best fit for their family, regardless of gender.

Norland supports raising standards in home childcare by supporting campaigns such as Regulation Matters, which calls for all Nannies to be qualified and DBS checked. This sort of action, together with the kind of high quality training and support that Norland provides, is how we safeguard children within the home, not through prejudiced, discriminatory and outdated statements such as these."

Mandy Donaldson, Vice Principal, Norland College

Thursday, 9 June 2016

From Heritage day to New York

Alice and her charges!
Alice Yates
Norland Nanny
Set 33

I recently had the privilege of flying home from my job in New York to see my sister, Becca (Set 37), display her work at Heritage Day (which used to be called Display Day) it is incredible the sense of pride that I felt towards Becca and all of set 37 - I know exactly what they've been through. My Display Day was in May of 2011, I seem to remember a lot of hard work and stress leading up to the morning and perhaps didn't appreciate the final product. When you see the light at the end of the tunnel with your creative, practical and academic work from the years you spent at college, you almost forget how hard it actually was. The feeling of finishing college and the eagerness of starting a new and exciting first role within a family is euphoric. That is why I am so glad to have been a part of this year’s Heritage Day and I tip my hat to Clare Dent (Norland graduate and now Norland lecturer) who drummed in the importance of reflection. It may have taken 5 years for me to reflect on my display but it has finally happened; what an achievement to complete training at Norland College. I am so proud of both my sister and myself. I also feel a sense of happiness and relief for my parents too who have been there for every step; the tears that were shed, my frustration over creative skills and the painstaking moment of 'can you proof read my essay?'.

Alice (right), Becca (in uniform)
Currently Becca is looking through pages and pages of NQN jobs (Newly Qualified Nanny, or Probationary Post as us old Norlanders know it) this is something I remember very clearly. The excitement of job possibilities is endless and I'm so interested to see where Becca will choose. 2 years ago, after qualifying in 2013 with my Norland Diploma, I was in a similar position, I wanted a new challenge, to see the world and do something a little bit different. I made the hard decision of handing in my notice in and started the search for a new job. At the time, I couldn’t find a job that was the right fit for me so I did what anybody would do when searching for adventure and started temp nannying. It was a fantastic adventure; .in the space of 4 months I sailed around Italy on a super yacht, had a completely new experience of working for a Jewish family and 6 weeks in a family
searching for a Probationer (now NQN). And then ‘The New York job’ that I had been looking for
came up through Norland Agency! From then it all happened very quickly, one minute I was in my sleepy village the next minute I was on a plane heading to my trial week in Manhattan. I immediately fell for the job; starting when the twins were 18months old and the older child had just turned 3...I did say I wanted a challenge. I didn't want to leave the trial, but unfortunately US visas are a little tricky so I was home for 4 weeks, spent countless hours filling out visa forms and saying goodbyes. Before I knew it, I was at Heathrow airport saying a very teary goodbye to my parents and off I went - a new adventure.
Norland Nannies in New York!
I love my job, my life and everything about New York City. The leap of faith was worth it. I'm not saying it's not hard work and incredibly demanding, but so worthwhile. Since being here, more and more Norlanders have also arrived and it's great to have a Norland network again. This means Nanny coffee mornings are a weekly occurrence, I always have a travel buddy on a long weekend and of course the unmissable reassuring ding of the group chat when someone wants to meet up or a chat.

If the US government could figure out a visa for Norland Nannies and recognise that our childcare training is of the upmost importance, I would love to call this home for much longer instead two years specified by my visa. As it is, I'll enjoy my last 5 months, I will take all the memories I have and the love for my New York family will never fade.

Monday, 9 May 2016

New Principal appointed

We are pleased to announce that we have appointed a new Principal, Dr Janet Rose who has over 20 years’ experience working in early years, both nationally and internationally.  Joining Norland from Bath Spa University, Dr Rose is currently a Reader in Education (Associate Professor), Programme and Award Leader for Early Childhood Education.

Dr Janet Rose has had a long-standing career in early years education, training and provision both nationally and internationally. She has an established track record of senior leadership in Higher Education, leading large degree programmes in early years education and early childhood, as well as MA and doctoral degrees, alongside early years teacher training. Dr Rose is passionately committed to the promotion of quality research and excellence in early years provision. Her entire career has been dedicated to the advancement of young children’s potential and well-being and the adults that support them.  

As a former teacher and early years practitioner, Dr Rose has worked in a variety of early years settings and schools both in England and Europe.  In the past 10 years, she has worked at several universities, including Gloucestershire University, where she helped to develop the ‘top up’ degree for Norland students. Dr Rose is the recipient of two ‘Outstanding Teaching’ student awards and has a national profile as an early years expert.  She is frequently invited to be a keynote speaker at national conferences such as with the National College of Teaching and Learning and the National Day Nurseries Association. 

Dr Rose has been a consultant for numerous Local Authority Early Years Services around the country and has been commissioned to develop various training programmes based on her expertise and research into early years provision. She set up her own business working with parents, babies and toddlers providing developmental and sensory workshops which drew on the latest neuroscientific and neurophysiological research to create optimal learning opportunities for young children. 

Dr Rose has a strong research profile having led several projects around the country in collaboration with local authorities and other organisations, including the Attachment Aware Schools and Emotion Coaching projects, which have developed a comprehensive programme of support for children affected by early attachment difficulties, trauma and neglect.  This research has been cited by the government and Oxford University and has received attention in America and Australia.  She is also the author of numerous academic publications including co-authorship of two key texts – ‘The Role of Adult in Early Years settings’ and ‘Health and Wellbeing in Early Childhood’. Dr Rose is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, an Associate of Early Education and a founder of Emotion Coaching UK. 

Dr Janet Rose said: “I am delighted to be joining Norland College and am very much looking forward to working with such a reputable institution. Given my commitment to quality early years practice and provision, I was particularly drawn to the College's unique degree which balances academic knowledge and understanding of early learning and development, with a range of essential vocational skills, generating the world renowned Norland graduates.”

Dr Rose will start in her post at Norland in summer 2016 when we will sadly say goodbye to our current Principal, Elizabeth Hunt.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Why we should all get reading this April

Nathalie Smith
Early years Consultant

April seems to be the time to think about reading, with Hans Christian Andersen's birthday marking international book day on the 2nd and ‘Drop everything and read’, where families are encouraged to put 30 minutes aside and enjoy books together, on the 16th.

So why is reading for pleasure from a young age so important? 


The OECD  survey of adult skills published in 2013 showed that England came in at a disappointing 47th out of 65 counties on the measure of the number of young adults that read for enjoyment. The survey also found that the difference in reading ability between those who never read for enjoyment or pleasure, compared to those that read for half an hour a day (because they are told to), was the equivalent to a whole year of schooling. This lack of reading for pleasure has the potential to have a large impact on the literacy skills of our young people which can also impact their future prospects with regards to further education and employment. If encouraging our children and young people to read more can have a positive influence on this, why wouldn’t we encourage it?

I have always encouraged parents or carers to read to their children as often as possible.  I would even go as far as to say start reading from birth; Dr John S Hutton suggests that reading to children from birth will help with later readiness to read. While young babies and children might not be able to fully understand every word you say, they will be able to pick up the different rhythms and tones in your voice, which will enhance their communication, language and literacy development. If you carefully watch babbling babies or talkative toddlers you will notice that they are exploring the different tones that we use when speaking and they will start to mimic these. They will also be starting to understand social etiquette, like taking turns within a conversation for example young toddlers will ‘babble’ at you, then stop for your reaction.

When we share books with children we use a broader vocabulary than we would use in everyday talk.  Reading a range of materials will use different types of language such as persuasive, instructive, emotive and factual, exposing children to a wide and varied vocabulary. The National Literacy Trust’s annual findings showed that children who were read to daily are more than likely to have higher vocabulary then those who weren’t. In general, children would have an above average vocabulary attainment if they looked at or read from printed stories, or stories on touchscreen devices, daily.

But it isn’t just about reading and literacy skills; reading to children, with them and encouraging them to read for pleasure can offer them so much more. Reading with children of all ages can have huge benefits, from strengthening your relationships with them, teaching them basic language and logical thinking skills. It can open them up to new experiences and a different way of looking at certain situations, showing them a different world other than their own, whether this is through their imagination in the fictional world of Peppa Pig, or the factual history of what happened to dinosaurs. Finding the time to read to children (not just at bed time, although this is a great part of the bedtime routine), can be a lovely way to strengthen the bond between parents and children and show them how enjoyable reading and stories can be.

Reading to children can help with cognitive development, the ability to process information. A study conducted by Dr John S Hutton (Aug 2015) suggested that reading aloud to children from a young age was a great and easy way to stimulate the part of the brain that is responsible for language, memory, intelligence and reasoning in the home environment. MRI scans conducted on the children in the study showed that while children are  listening to stories there is a change to the flow of oxygen-rich blood in the brain, not only affecting the parietal lobes, responsible for extracting meaning and language, but also the occipital lobes, which are used for visualization. This stimulation can help children develop lifelong skills like problem solving and creativity.

Children who read for pleasure also tend to develop better personal and social skills, as highlighted by Clark and Rumbold (2006) increasing their sense of identity and improving empathy to others.

Finally, the The Reading Agency published a literature review in 2015 on the effects of reading for pleasure and found that there was a relationship between regularly reading for pleasure and well-being. People who read for pleasure are at a lower risk of stress and depression.  Engaging children in reading from a young age can also have an impact on their wellbeing throughout their lives.

Remember, reading should be enjoyable, not always a chore 


It is fair to say that the studies and research above clearly show that reading for pleasure is extremely important. However we need to emphasise the ‘for pleasure’ part. More and more children are no longer reading just because they enjoy it. As children get older we can sometimes make the mistake of making story time into a reading lesson.  Although we mean well we can end up asking too many questions, pushing children that are too young to learn to read because we want our children to achieve. Reading should be a fun activity, it should spark imagination, conversations, questions and ideas – it shouldn’t just be about learning to read. It also doesn’t always need to be story books that you read, it could be comic books, magazines or newspapers etc.  As the National Literacy Trust found , what you read also doesn’t have to be printed, it can be digital as well.

How can we encourage children to read for pleasure?


How do we encourage children to have a love of reading, particularly when it seems that the motivation to read decreases with age?

  • Firstly we need to make sure that children have access to books within the home environment from as young an age as possible - children who have access to books are twice as likely to read outside of school and for pleasure. This doesn’t mean buying lots of books, you can visit the local library, which can be a fun adventure for the children as well.
  • If children see reading as valued within the home this will encourage them to read more.  Set incentives, rewards or reading challenges that children can take part in such as the Summer Reading Challenge .
  • Give children time outside of activities and school work to spend time reading just for fun.
  • If you are a nanny or early years practitioner, think about your learning journals - these are similar to a life story book for your charges, it documents where they have been, what they have done, when they have reached important milestones. Why not get the children more involved in the story of their lives?
It is never too late, if older children are still not interested in reading for pleasure they may just not have found the right book to engage them. Keep encouraging them and don’t just write them off as not being interested in reading. As you can see from the above research, the benefits are too important.
  • Try keeping up to date with the latest literature that is being published, knowing what the latest trends in books are can help you to spark children’s interest to read through following their peers.
  • Before seeing the latest book to film adaptations, encourage teenagers to read the book first, even setting them a challenge, can they read the book before a certain date when you will see the film?
Finally it is important to think, am I being a good role model; when was the last time you read a book for pleasure? If it’s been a while then why not use April as the month to crack the spine of, or download the latest, gripping read!