Nursery Manager

a varied and
satisfying career

If, after your time in placements, you decide that a Nursery is where you belong, Nursery Management might be right for you. Many Norland graduates have gone on to be lead practitioners in a nursery setting or even set up their own nursery, like Julia.

Julia Gaskell is a Norlander, a Director on Norland's Board of Directors and the owner and manager of Playaway Nursery in Burnham-on-Sea, an Ofsted Outstanding nursery setting.

"I had always been good with children and my parents, recognising this, suggested Norland. My mother said that if I was going to follow a career working with children I had to be taught by the best – and that was Norland in her view!

I absolutely loved Norland. The training was so thorough and the balance between academic study and ‘hands-on’ experience suited me really well.  I left in 1985 armed with my NNEB (which was the national qualification we studied then) and my Norland Diploma. I’ve never really stopped working or studying since!

I worked as a nanny for 3 years which I loved. It’s a great feeling to recognise how confident and knowledgeable you have become in caring for children. A few years later my husband and I started our own family and our son Jack was born. When my daughter Ellie was born, I really appreciated how flexible an early years career can be as I was able to successfully combine caring for my children with being a childminder.  

Later on I wanted to try other things and, after working for a bank teaching young children about money management, I was approached by a company to become an NVQ trainer and assessor in Early Years Care and Education. Part of this job involved visiting nurseries in my area.

After a while I realized that what I really wanted to do was run my own nursery. Luckily my husband thought this was a great idea!  In 2001 we bought a 3 storey Victorian house in Burnham-on-Sea and began to convert it into a nursery (and also a place for the whole family to live!).

My Norland training is with me all the time and my nursery is very much based on Norland’s child-centred philosophy. Playaway Nursery operates a free flow system where children are free to move about the nursery as if it were their family home. Each child has his or her own ‘family’ and one key support worker. Every day I eat lunch with the key family groups.

The way my nursery is run is very much a reflection of all that I learnt at Norland – that children have a right to quality, respect and good quality resources. I am so proud that the nursery has been awarded 3 consecutive ‘Outstanding’ reports from Ofsted.

I have always believed in the importance of developing my professional career and in 2010 completed the Foundation Degree in Early Years at Plymouth University. I then completed my top up to a BA (Hons) in Early Years Care and Education in 2011. I studied for my degree at Bridgewater College and am proud to say was one of only two people in my year to gain a First (the highest qualification possible)!  I have also recently achieved Early Years Professional Status (now replaced by Early Years Teacher Status).

Today I spend probably 50% of my time managing my nursery. The rest of my time is taken up with early years consultancy work as a mentor for other early years professionals, trouble-shooting for other nurseries in Somerset and providing peer to peer support.

If you are looking for a career that is varied, satisfying and flexible, I couldn’t recommend early years more. In terms of training I honestly don’t think that anything can compete with Norland. The fact that I have never had a moment in my career where I’ve worried about not having a job says it all!"