Have you ever wondered what working as a nursery nurse is really like? If you love children and would like to translate that into a rewarding career, it could be the perfect job for you. We chatted to Toad Hall’s very own Sophie Smith from our Colmworth nursery to get an insider’s take on the role of a nursery nurse.
The best bits
If you love spending time with children, you’ll find that being there and seeing them learn, develop and make new discoveries is a really satisfying part of the job. “The highlights for me are watching children grow and develop and being part of development and journey at my setting,” says Sophie.
It’s also an amazing feeling to know that you have made such a big difference in a young person’s life. “I enjoy knowing that I am making a positive impact on their life that could be part of their personal traits forever.”
Getting great feedback from parents and children alike can feel great. “On the morning of our Ofsted inspection, many parents phoned and spoke their views on the nursery,” says Sophie. “I felt very overwhelmed to hear such lovely comments.”
A typical day at nursery
One of the joys of the nursery nurse role is that every day brings something different, with new challenges and new rewards! However, there is also a routine to follow.
Activities for the children need to be planned carefully. “I always make sure that the activities are changed throughout the day to keep the children interested and stimulated,” says Sophie, who really enjoys researching activities and seeing the children involved and exploring the different activities.
Meals are at a set time and nursery nurses need to be on hand to check the food isn’t too hot, provide support feeding the children and cleaning up afterwards. It can be a messy business! There’s also lots of work involved in meeting the children’s needs, including nappy changes, naptime and milk feeding.
Parents need to know what their child has eaten, how they have slept and what activities they have enjoyed, so all of this needs to be recorded throughout the day and communicated at pickup time. The relationship with parents is an important one, so chatting to them is always a significant part of the day.
Training and qualifications
To be employed as a nursery nurse, you will usually need to have a vocational qualification in childcare, like an NVQ or BTEC. However, you can also get experience by working as a nursery assistant. This is how Sophie started out, working part time alongside her sixth form studies. “I loved it that much that I only completed one year of sixth form, and as soon as I left school I started working there 30-35 hours a week.”
If school’s not your thing, you might be daunted by the thought of studying for a qualification. But qualifying as a nursery nurse doesn’t have to be difficult – and with an Early Years apprenticeship you can study for your NVQ alongside your work, so it’s really practical with loads of hands-on experience.
“When I was employed full time I was able to undertake NVQ Level 2 in childcare within the nursery and had a tutor to visit me every month to assess me and set me work to carry out at home,” says Sophie, who found that the combination of work and study worked really well.
If you find you enjoy the studying, you can carry on to do an NVQ Level 3, and even take things further with a university degree (just as Sophie is doing).
The cherry on the cake
For the right person, the role of a nursery nurse provides amazing job satisfaction. And if you come to work at Toad Hall, you can enjoy a number of extra perks on top! Our staff reward scheme is one way we like to say “thank you” to all of our nursery staff, with discounts and cashback at hundreds of high street stores. There are many other benefits of working at Toad Hall, too. We understand that happy staff are the key to happy children, so your wellbeing is our top priority.
Feeling inspired? Check out our current vacancies today!