Nursery nurses play a vital role in keeping children safe, happy, and well looked-after with their daily care needs. They also help to oversee, maintain, and organise a child-friendly, clean, and tidy environment, and supervise activities such as crafts, cooking, reading and messy play, outdoor and physical pursuits.
Duties and responsibilities
Nursery nurses assist in many aspects of children’s daily lives, nurturing and guiding them through social, emotional, educational, and practical interaction; mostly in pre-schools and nurseries but they may practice in a variety of settings.
Nursery nurses also plan, observe, and keep records that inform parents and carers about their child’s day so that they do not feel as if they are missing out on their young child’s development.
Duties may include:
Teaching general life skills, such as basic hygiene and manners
Working with health and social care professionals, where necessary, and undertaking any relevant admin/paperwork
Feeding suitable meals, snacks, and drinks
Changing nappies or helping with potty/toilet training
Working hours and environment
Hours vary depending on the specific vacancy. The role can offer flexible working hours, which may be full or part-time depending on the requirements of the employer. Job-sharing with another nursery nurse is popular too, so that responsibilities can be split around any other commitments. Some employers are happy for the nursery nurse to bring their own children with them.
The working environment is likely to be a nursery or pre-school, where the nursery nurse is responsible for a number of small children, helping them to learn and develop physically and emotionally and socially; through repetitive routines, stimulating educational play and other child-focussed activities.
Family centres, schools or hospitals occasionally employ nursery nurses alongside charities or social services to work on an individual basis, targeting identified areas of the child’s personal situation, addressing any specific needs. These specialist positions can offer a diverse, rewarding, and interesting challenge to an experienced nursery nurse, or one looking to gain certain skills.
The role involves working with a mixture of children from various ethnic cultures and backgrounds, and those with different abilities.
Nursery nurses can apply for higher-paid roles and expect to earn more generally, as they become more experienced, and may progress to other professions, such as teaching or high-calibre, well-paid nannying jobs, subject to further qualifications and/or experience. Sometimes foreign travel can be included, and the use of a car or paid-for holidays with the family you work with.
Nursery nurses earn between £15,000 and £19,000, with the average full-time salary of around £17,000.
With promotion or overtime, or in a private nannying job for a family, they can enjoy higher earnings. (Please see nannies)
A job as a nursery nurse can be fun, flexible, and rewarding.
Nursery nurses will always be in demand as little ones continue to need childcare so the chances of finding and keeping work are high. This might be a factor in choosing this as a career at a time of general employment uncertainty in many commercial and public sector workplaces.
If, as a nursery nurse, you have children of your own, they may be able to attend work with you, and it can be slightly easier than other jobs to negotiate your hours to suit.
Challenges of being a nursery nurse
Small children are notoriously often unwell and you could pick up a lot of germs. Changing dirty nappies, cleaning up vomit and wiping a runny nose is all part of the job!
Most working days are unpredictable as the unexpected can happen when dealing with children. You must be constantly one step ahead and be prepared to change your plans as the circumstances demand.
Nursery nurse qualifications
Formal qualifications are not always necessary but GCSE level is preferred as a minimum. Most will have achieved a CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education, a BTEC National Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development or an NVQ Level 3 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development.
Some start as nursery assistants in apprenticeship-style training roles, working through relevant courses as they earn.
Skills needed to be a nursery nurse:
You need to be practical, patient and enjoy spending time with young children. Singing, drawing, and acting skills would be useful. If you are a warm person with a sense of humour, and you have empathy and compassion, nursery nursing could be the perfect job for you.
You must be dedicated, responsible and able to model appropriate behaviour; ideally firm but kind and willing to comply to your employer’s rules. The ability to keep calm and composed in a crisis, with good communication skills is essential. First-aid training is usually required.
Midas will make the following checks before registering a nursery nurse:
Criminal background check (DBS)
Previous employment check.
Certification check as required