Early Years Lecturer

Embrace every
opportunity

Claire Burgess trained at Norland and then returned to work as an Early Years Lecturer. She is now an Early Years Consultant at Norland College. 

"From the age of about 7, I decided that I wanted to work with children. My parents said that if that’s what I wanted to do, I should go to the best place. As far as they were concerned that was Norland College. In those days, you were interviewed following a 3 day residential placement at the college. I was 13 and it was the first time I had done anything remotely like this!

After being offered a provisional place, I then had to wait another 4 years before I could actually start. The balance of placements and lectures really worked for me. I thrived in my placements and this experience gave me the drive to work hard and do well in my course.  It was such an important and influential time of my life, and I made some very close friends. My best friend then is my best friend now, and we still talk on the phone at least once a day, every day!

After leaving Norland, my first nannying job was to look after a boy of 10 months and a 3 year old girl. I loved this job and the children so much, I stayed for 4 years! I am still in contact with the children and I’m sure I always will be.

For my next job, I decided to accept a position working in a purpose-built nursery. Early on I was offered the position of managing the nursery. I jumped at this amazing opportunity, I was just 23 years old and was also working as a school governor.  I didn’t think life could get much busier than this, but in the last couple of years in this position I found myself managing two nurseries - at the same time!

The next stage in my career was to complete the full circle. In 2008 I returned to Norland, but this time as a lecturer. Even though the college had moved to Bath by then, there was still a very strong sense of familiarity and I really felt like I was ‘coming home’. That’s not to say standing in front of a sea of Norland uniforms for the first time wasn’t scary! Whilst lecturing at Norland I completed my Cert Ed (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) closely followed by a Masters in Educational Practice – both at Bath Spa University.

I now work as an Early Years Consultant at Norland offering Early Years training and consultancy to a wide range of companies and private clients. So far I have trained over one thousand cabin crew from the airline Etihad, to become ‘Flying Nannies’.  The Flying Nannies are specially trained to look after young children during long haul flights. As well as regular travel to Abu Dhabi I have delivered training to catering teams from Chartwells Independent Schools about pastoral care for children aged 3-8 and 11-13.

Norland has a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme for Norland graduates (‘Norlanders’) which I deliver on, and originally helped to set up. In September 2014 I was awarded 'Trainer of the Year' at the Nursery World Awards.

The work that I currently do with the charity TAMBA is very important to me. Jointly with TAMBA (the Twins and Multiple Births Association), Norland has set up the Helping Hands Appeal whereby Norlanders volunteer their free time to families with multiples who are in a crisis situation. This is an incredibly humbling and worthwhile cause and one which I also give my time to whenever I can. In addition I work voluntarily for TAMBA as an Honorary Consultant. 

My advice to anyone considering coming to Norland, is to embrace every opportunity it provides. So many doors have been opened for me that would not normally have been there. However you must be prepared to work hard - and then you will see the rewards!"