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nursery nurse

Nursery nurses work with children from birth to approximately seven years of age. They work in a variety of settings, mainly in nurseries which are run by Local Authorities or privately-owned, and in nursery, infant and specialist schools. Although nursery nurses work mainly with healthy children, it is possible to specialise, for example, in working with children who are physically disabled or have learning difficulties or mental health problems. Their duties cover all aspects of physical care and safety. 

Nursery nurses are also responsible for social and educational development. This involves planning and supervising activities including reading, arts and crafts, music and cooking. The nursery nurse is responsible for observing and monitoring children. They will work closely with parents and report any concerns.

Responsibility for the safety of the children is an important aspect of the work. Physical care such as feeding, changing, and bathing forms a large part of the work. They may also be required from time to time to make reports on a child’s development.

Hours and Environment

Hours can vary and may involve early starts and late finishes. In some areas of the work, for example, in residential homes, shift work will be required.

Nursery nurses work in a variety of settings and conditions.

Skills and Interests

To be a nursery nurse you need:

  • a warm, caring, patient nature
  • good communication skills
  • a sense of responsibility
  • a consistent and fair approach
  • a sense of humour
  • to be physically fit
  • to have creative ideas
  • an awareness of safety and hygiene
  • to be able to work in a team.

Entry

Academic qualifications are not always necessary, but it is useful to have three GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3), or equivalent. If you are considering a career in childcare, the CACHE Foundation Award in Caring for Children could provide an introductory ‘taster’.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland qualifications which will allow you to work under supervision as a nursery assistant include:

  • CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Child Care and Education (CACHE was formerly the National Nursery Examination Board (NNEB)) 
  • City & Guilds Level 2 Progression Award in Early Years Care and Education
  • BTEC Certificate in Early Years Care and Education
  • BTEC First Diploma in Early Years
  • NVQ Level 2 in Children's Care, Learning and Development.
Qualifications which will allow you to work as a fully qualified nursery nurse include:
  • CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education; for entry onto this course you may need some GCSEs/S grades, or equivalent
  • BTEC National Diploma in Early Years; for this course you may need four GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3)
  • NVQ Level 3 in Children's Care, Learning and Development.
The DFES Children's Workforce: Qualifications website gives details of early years, childcare and playwork qualifications which Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) recognises as meeting the national occupational standards for under eight day care. Please see the Further Information section below for details.

Courses are available both full- and part-time. You should check with individual providers about the entry requirements for their part-time courses and NVQs, as you may need to be in a relevant practical work situation which you would need to arrange yourself.

In Scotland, the usual requirement for working as a nursery nurse is the Scottish Child Care and Education Board’s Certificate of Registration. The most widely recognised qualifications which allow entry onto the register are the HNC in Child Care and Education, and an SVQ Level 3 in Children's Care, Learning and Development. Combinations of the two routes may be possible.

Courses will combine theory and practice and include practical placements in child care establishments.

Training

All college-based training includes supervised practical placements.

It may be possible to find employment as a trainee and attend college part-time, working towards an NVQ/SVQ in Children's Care, Learning and Development.

Nursery nurses can continue their professional development, extend their specialist knowledge and possibly progress to more senior roles by undertaking further training.

The CACHE Level 3 Certificate of Professional Development (CPD) in Work with Children and Young People, includes a range of subjects such as Designing Programmes for Early Learning; Protecting Children; Delivering and Assessing Programmes for Early Learning; Management of Early Years Settings; Developing Children's Language and Literacy Skills; Supporting Health Professionals.

Those working at a senior level may be able to work towards the NVQ Level 4 in Children's Care, Learning and Development. The Open University Level 4 Certificate in Early Years Practice is also available.

BTEC HNCs and HNDs are also available in subjects such as Advanced Practice in Work with Children and Families, and Early Childhood Studies.

Degrees and foundation degrees are available in Early Years Childcare and Education, and other similar subjects.

Apprenticeships may be available for those under the age of 24. In England these are currently Apprenticeships (level 2) and Advanced Apprenticeships (level 3). To find out more about these, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Apprenticeships may be different in other areas. For further information see Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland

Opportunities

Demand for qualified nursery nurses is high in both private and Local Authority nurseries. There are also opportunities for working abroad. Vacancies are advertised in the press and in publications such as 'The Lady' and 'Nursery World'. Nursery nurses may also choose to work as nannies and maternity nannies. See the nanny profile for more information.

Nursery nurses with experience and a level 3 qualification such as a Diploma or NVQ Level 3 in Children's Care, Learning and Development may be able to progress to supervisory or management positions. Some of these posts require candidates to have a higher level of qualification, such as NVQ 4 or BTEC HNC/HND in Advanced Practice in Work with Children and Families (Management).

It may also be possible to train in related careers such as teaching, nursing or social work. A Diploma in Early Years, or Childcare and Education, may satisfy the entry requirements for this type of professional training – you should check with individual course providers for their specific requirements. Also, please check relevant job profiles for more details.

Qualified and experienced nursery nurses may set up and run their own nurseries. Information about this can be obtained from OFSTED and the National Day Nursery Association; (see Further Information for contact details).

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Nursery nurses normally start at £9,000 to £10,500 a year.
Experienced full-time nursery nurses can earn around £14,000 a year.
Those employed in senior posts such as nursery management can earn £15,000 to £20,000 a year.

 

 

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The information contained in our Career Profiles Database was correct at time of publishing, but since publication certain details may have changed so please use this section as a research tool and in some cases further research may be required.

Careers Database Information By Learn Direct Advice