Think Norland Nanny and you might well think Mary Poppins. And while they don't necessarily sing about a spoonful of sugar every time your child needs medicine, or have a giant magical bag from which they can make literally anything appear, they do wear white gloves and a hat, minimal make-up and jewellery and promise to look after your kids to the highest order.
So esteemed are they that Kate and Wills have a Norland Nanny - Maria Borallo - looking after Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte, and Kate's been reported as telling friends that she's "amazing".
But what's it like actually being a Norland Nanny? We caught up with Steph Yates, a second year student at the Norland College in Bath, to tell us all about it...
Who: Steph Yates
Profession: A second-year student at Norland College in Bath, a world-famous childcare institution.
Lives: In the city with two friends, and divides her time between studying and placements with families.
It was my mum who first told me about Norland. I had always been interested in working with children – and I never grew out of playing with dolls – so she said, ‘You have to go to the best place.’ The interview process was nerve-racking, but on the open day I liked the atmosphere and the fact that everyone had the same philosophy. Everyone here is so child-centred I thought, ‘I’m going to make friends instantly.’
Preparing for college
After I get up, the girls in my house have breakfast together and sometimes we do each other’s hair, which has to be in a bun. On the days we’re in college, we go together in our uniforms – a dress, coat, gloves (colour depending on the season) and a hat. We wear minimal make-up and no jewellery. At first, the uniform is quite daunting. When you’re in public, everyone looks at you, and I’ve been asked if I’m a personal shopper or on a hen party, but you soon feel a real sense of pride putting it on.
When I arrive, I catch up with friends before lectures, or practical classes begin. They can be on anything from nutrition to play and learning or care and wellbeing. We use technology too – iPads are an educational tool as there are so many apps for children.
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There have been some embarrassing moments with the virtual Real Care babies. We treat them like a real baby and sometimes take them home for the night, so you might have given one a girl’s name, get the nappy off and realise it’s a boy! I enjoy the cooking lessons, but there are regular disasters in the kitchen – recently we overstuffed our sausage plait!
Planning for the future
It’s lunchtime so I might have food from cooking class or go to a local supermarket – the staff know us but sometimes other people wonder what we’re doing with our little gloves on! We’re about to choose family placements for our probation year. A lot of nannies end up working abroad or with travelling families, so we do lessons around caring for jet-lagged children, or on multicultural celebrations.
I think everybody’s dream would be to work for Kate Middleton, but, for me, it’s not who the family are, it’s more about how you get on with them and the children. Some of us want to work together, maybe in orphanages in Africa, in the future.
A heavy worklaod
After more classes, it’s time for home. We have a large workload, so normally we eat dinner together and then go to our rooms to study. That doesn’t always happen though – we need some chill time too! Bedtime varies, but on a college day it’s about 10.30pm. We support and rely on each other quite a lot because we’re all driven by the same thing, we all share the same beliefs and we’re friends for life.
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