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  1. Nursery assistants – also known as nursery nurses – provide care for children up to the age of five.
  2.  As a nursery assistant, it’s unlikely that any two days will ever be the same. The work can be varied and at times highly demanding, though at the same time, it can deliver high levels of job satisfaction.
  3. Duties can include overseeing lessons, supervising outings and helping develop children’s maths and language skills.
  4. Unlike nursery teachers, you do not need to hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to work as a nursery assistant.
  5. However, it’s likely you will need a few good GCSEs, particularly in maths and English.
  6. Additionally, you will need to have undergone a number of background checks – carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
  7.  For newly-qualified nursery assistants, levels of pay tend to be low, with many earning little more than £11,000 a year, though you can earn more with experience and as you take on more responsibilities.

What Do Nursery Assistants Do?

Nursery assistants – often known as nursery nurses – provide care for children up to the age of five. Often working alongside fully-qualified nursery teachers, they are tasked with providing physical, emotional and spiritual care to young children, making this an ideal job if you enjoy helping babies and young children develop and learn.

As a nursery assistant, it’s unlikely that any two days will ever be the same. The work can be varied and at times highly demanding, though at the same time, it can deliver high levels of job satisfaction. Day-to-day responsibilities may include:

  • Planning and supervising appropriate activities, including arts and crafts, music and games sessions.
  • Overseeing simple lessons designed to develop maths and language skills.
  • Reading stories aloud and helping children learn to read for themselves.
  • Feeding, bathing and changing infants if and when required.
  • Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all children, including looking out for possible signs of abuse and reporting them.
  • Supervising outings and ensuring the wellbeing of children outside of the nursery.

Skills and Qualifications

Unlike nursery teachers, you do not need to hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to work as a nursery assistant. In fact, there are no minimal formal qualifications for this job, though, for the most part, nursery assistants usually hold at least a few good GCSEs (with maths and English particularly useful) as well as a relevant child care qualification. Some of the most popular qualifications include:

  • BTEC National Diploma in Child Care, Leaning and Development: Colleges across the UK offer this course, though you may need several good GCSEs in order to be allowed to enrol.
  • NVQ Level 3 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development: This qualification is usually done in the workplace, so you may need to find a local nursery that is happy to support your training.
  • CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education: Again, while many colleges will offer this, you will need a handful of good GCSEs to get a place on a course.

Aside from formal qualifications, nurseries will also look for a number of personal qualities, including:

  • A caring and patient nature, as well as a high level of patience and a good sense of humour.
  • The ability to think creatively and be able to make learning fun.
  • A good appreciation of health and safety concerns.
  • A keen interest in child development and early-years education.
  • The ability to work well as part of a small team.

Note that you will also need to have undergone a number of background checks – carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS – before you can start working with children. 

Pay and Benefits

For newly-qualified nursery assistants, levels of pay tend to be low, with many earning little more than £11,000 a year. With more experience, you may be able to earn as much as £17,000 a year (presuming you are happy to take on more responsibilities), while as a nursery manager, you can earn in excess of £20,000 a year.

In terms of career development, apart from gaining experience and working your way up into a supervisory role in a nursery, you may also use your experience to get on an Early Years Teacher Status (EYTC) course. Once qualified, you will be guaranteed a salary of £22,000 a year or above, as well as a better pension and other enhanced benefits.

Pay aside, working as a nursery assistant will give you the chance to work in a vibrant environment, where no two days are the same and where you can be satisfied that you have made a real difference to the lives of the children under your care.

Finding Work

Nurseries across the UK are always recruiting assistants. Good places to look for jobs include the local press and local nurseries themselves, as well as using our onlne search above. Alternatively, you could look online, with the Nursery World website (http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/), as well as the Children and Young People Now (http://www.cypnow.co.uk/) advertising vacancies year-round.

 


 
 
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