How to Become a Nanny (UK)

If you have experience in childcare, or you simply love working with children, you might have considered becoming a nanny. There are many different factors to consider - for example, whether you want to work full-time or part-time, and whether being a live-in nanny would suit you. Depending on the needs of your clients, you may also need additional skills or qualifications to excel at the job.

A career as a nanny offers the unique opportunity to make a profound impact on children and their families. Nanny roles combine care, education and support, and demand a blend of skills, patience and understanding, along with the right qualifications and experience to ensure the highest standard of care. Starting off on the right foot can give you a great foundation from which to build a career, which could take you further in nannying, into teaching, nursery care, or even to a work placement in another country.

Here, Nannies Matter explains what you need to become a nanny, the qualifications that can help and the experience you will need before you can expect to become a sought-after candidate.

What qualifications do you need to become a nanny?

Officially, you do not need any qualifications to become a full-time nanny. You can start by volunteering or work as an apprentice when you leave school to gain the necessary experience. However, if you are interested in studying and gaining childcare qualifications before embarking on a career as a nanny, there are some great opportunities available.

College courses

There are several college courses that are suitable for those seeking a career in childcare and childminding. The UK government suggests that Level 1 awards in Safeguarding and Introduction to Health, Social Care and Children’s and Young People’s Settings are both a good way to gain a foundational understanding of childcare.

There are also courses available at Level 2, including the Certificate for the Children and Young People's Workforce and the Level 2 Early Years Practitioner qualification, introduced by the UK government in 2019. While you do not usually need qualifications to become a nanny, these courses can help you to understand your legal responsibilities and many will combine classroom-based learning with work experience, so this can be a good first step into the industry.

The Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework

Although there is no requirement to earn a qualification, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework is mandatory for all educators, childminders and early years providers who are responsible for children from birth until the age of four years old. Introduced in September 2021, the EYFS framework specifies the learning, development, safeguarding and welfare requirements that must be fulfilled by early years providers.

As such, you should be familiar with the framework and the responsibilities you will have as a childcare professional. Your employer may also provide resources on this, but it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that children in your care are properly provided for. The framework is a useful resource, as it can also help to identify developmental problems or other challenges that children may be facing.

DBS check

While not a qualification, it is very important that you pass a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check before working with children. For most roles in childcare, you will need an enhanced DBS check and a children’s barred list check, which will review your criminal record and ensure that you are not banned from working with children or vulnerable adults. These checks can only be arranged through your employer, and are a legal requirement for certain types of regulated activity (including childminding).

As well as their employers, childminders can also apply for enhanced DBS checks through Ofsted. If you are self-employed, you must apply for roles through a recruiting agency or other organisation. They can apply for the type of enhanced DBS check you require on your behalf.

Depending on the role you are interested in, you may require other qualifications or be asked to attend training due to the varying needs of different roles. For example, you may need to obtain a first aid certificate, although it will be up to your employer whether you must achieve this yourself before starting the job, or whether they will pay for your first aid training.

Is prior experience necessary to work as a nanny in the UK?

Like nanny qualifications, prior experience is not legally required to work as a nanny in the UK, but it is valued by families and nanny agencies. Experience can come in various forms, from formal positions in nurseries or schools to informal babysitting roles. It provides practical understanding of children's needs, behaviour management, and developmental milestones.

For those new to the field, volunteering in child-centric settings like schools, nurseries, or community centres can be an excellent way to gain experience. Additionally, attending childcare-related workshops or seminars can also contribute to your practical knowledge and show your commitment to professional development.

What skills do you need to be a nanny?

As a nanny, you are entrusted with a multifaceted role that extends beyond basic childcare. Your responsibilities are tailored to the specific needs of the family you work with but generally demand a holistic approach to the child's wellbeing and development. Key responsibilities include:

  • Child development: engaging in activities that promote the child's physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development. This could involve educational games, reading, arts and crafts, and outdoor play.
  • Safety and wellbeing: ensuring the child's environment is safe and responding appropriately to any illness or emergency. This includes adhering to health and safety guidelines and administering first aid if needed.
  • Nutrition: preparing healthy and balanced meals and snacks to meet the dietary requirements of the child.
  • Routine management: establishing and maintaining a consistent daily routine that includes hygiene, naps, and bedtime.
  • Educational support: assisting with homework, school projects, and fostering a positive attitude towards learning.
  • Emotional support: providing a nurturing environment where the child feels safe, understood, and supported.
  • Communication: maintaining open and regular communication with parents regarding the child's progress, experiences, and any concerns.

Nannies may also be responsible for light household duties related to the child, such as laundry, organising the child's room, or maintaining cleanliness in areas used by the child.

While formal qualifications lay the groundwork for understanding childcare, hands-on experience with these activities is invaluable in preparing you for the dynamic and rewarding role of a nanny.

Building and maintaining family relationships

Building a strong, trusting relationship with the families you work for is just as important as any qualifications and prior experience. As a nanny, you are integrated into the family, meaning the children and parents must trust you and feel comfortable in your presence.There are several key ways to achieve this:

  • Maintain open, honest, and respectful communication. Regularly update parents on their children's progress, daily activities, and any issues that arise. Be receptive to feedback and willing to discuss any concerns or suggestions the parents may have.
  • Respect the family's privacy and confidentiality. Be professional in your conduct, understanding that while you are an integral part of the family's life, maintaining a level of professionalism is crucial.
  • Show that you are dependable by being punctual, sticking to agreed schedules, and demonstrating your commitment to the children's wellbeing and development.
  • Every family has its unique dynamic and set of values. Take time to understand the parenting style, household rules, and the children's individual needs and adapt your approach accordingly.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to your role by seeking opportunities for professional development. Stay informed about the best practices in child care and be willing to adapt your approach to meet the evolving needs of the family and children.
  • Show genuine care and interest in the children's lives. Engage in activities that they enjoy, celebrate their achievements, and provide comfort and support when needed. This helps to create a nurturing and positive environment.

Building a strong relationship is a continuous process that requires patience and genuine care. By fostering trust, showing commitment, and maintaining open lines of communication, you can develop a meaningful and long-lasting relationship with the families you work for.

What is the standard working schedule for a nanny in the UK?

The standard working schedule for a nanny varies based on the specific needs and preferences of the family you are working for. Typically, full-time nannies work between 40 to 50 hours per week, but this can reduce depending on the agreement with the family. Live-in nannies might have a more structured schedule, which often includes early starts and late finishes aligned with the children's routine.

Part-time positions are also common and can range from a few hours each day to longer shifts on certain days of the week. It is important to have a clear contract or agreement that stipulates your working hours, any potential overtime, and expectations regarding flexibility.

Nannies may also be required to work evenings, weekends, or overnight stays, especially when covering for parents' work commitments or social engagements. A successful nanny will maintain open and honest communication with the family to ensure that their work schedule is clear, manageable, and respectful of their personal time and commitments.

Do you need to have a driver's licence to be a nanny in the UK?

Having a driver's licence is not a statutory requirement for nannies in the UK. However, it can significantly enhance your employability. Many families seek nannies who can drive, especially those living in suburban or rural areas where public transport options may be limited, or for those who require a nanny to transport children to and from school, extracurricular activities, or various appointments.

By having a driver's licence, you can be more versatile and better accommodate the dynamic needs of a family's schedule. Being able to drive may also be linked to additional responsibilities and, consequently, opportunities for better pay.

If you plan to drive in the course of your duties, it is important to have the appropriate insurance coverage and, if using your own vehicle, to ensure it's well-maintained and safe for transporting children.

Nannies Matter can help

If you feel like you have what it takes to deliver an exceptional standard of care, consider working with us. Nannies Matter can help you to understand the relevant qualifications for nanny work and how to make yourself more employable. You can browse our current job listings, or get in touch by calling us on 0800 121 4881 or filling in the contact form on this page.

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