Hands-on, active education, enables nannies to have job satisfaction, self-worth and happier homesMary Ainsworth, Child Psychologist and pioneer researcher of Attachment and Attachment Styles in young children, notes that in order for a child to form a ‘secure’ attachment they must first learn to trust. This means their needs must be met – primarily those needs are food, warmth and a safe environment – but equally importantly the child needs to be assured that when they cry because they’re scared or frightened, or when they are unsure whether a situation is ‘safe’ or not, there will be someone there whom they recognise and who is able to comfort or reassure them.

It takes time for the child to form a secure attachment. It is vital that a) the primary caregiver (parent/nanny for example) is able to respond appropriately and b) the caregiver remains constant. This has no bearing on whether either or both parents are working and away from home for most of the day, but rather that the person looking after the child during those hours does so for a number of years rather than a few months. It is evident that an infant placed in a large daycare setting with various carers responding to his/her needs would find difficulty in gaining trust and forming a secure attachment, as opposed to an infant with two primary caregivers – say Mum and Nanny, the responses of whom he/she can predict.

When a child carer chooses to work in a nursery, as opposed to working as a nanny, they tend to do so for the following reasons: job security, prospects of promotion, flexible working hours, companionship (they are socializing with adults as well as children) and the opportunity for professional development (there are many courses offered in-house or at local colleges which the nursery nurse can attend, thereby increasing their skills and also credentials). However, in comparison, the nanny typically has less opportunity to gain qualifications, career promotion or professional development. That is, until now.

Training for Nannies, launches this month and is the answer to dissatisfied, unvalued nannies. They, in partnership with After School Nannies, offer short courses, accredited by the Open College Network, allowing nannies the flexibility of attendance according to the needs of the families for whom they work. Elizabeth Rackow, owner of After School Nannies and newly launched sister agency 0-5 Nannies, is keen to involve families and nannies in the training process: “We hope that our nannies and their families will work together with us to create a timetable of training, tailored to their own needs and their own timescale, which will enhance the nanny’s experience and strengthen the bond between nanny and family. This will hopefully encourage longer working relationships and more continuity of care for children.”.

Training for Nannies currently offer courses in Child Development, Child Nutrition, Food Hygiene, Education within the Home, Introduction to SEN, Montessori Education and Paediatric First Aid. “Our aim, quite simply,” says Kitty Sullivan, Director of Training for Nannies and founder of First Aid for Schools, “is to provide the best in practical, hands-on education for nannies and care-workers. Nannies work very hard. They typically work 7am-7pm without a break, without job security and without being able to progress within their role. Our training not only enables them to study and practise what they learn but also they gain job satisfaction and equally a sound understanding of the child.”

It is of paramount importance that the nanny understands what a child should be achieving at certain ages – it allows them to not only build on this, but to perhaps flag up potential learning difficulties, which might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

There are many articles referencing how many children attend school unable to read/write/hold a pencil. Perhaps now it is time to go back to basics and offer our children’s carers the support and educational resources which are clearly vital to their role. Elizabeth Truss MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, suggests, that all childcarers should have a minimum of a C grade in GCSE English and Mathematics, and whilst the child can only prosper from being cared for by an individual with some qualification, one must question whether Math or English are indeed the best option – perhaps it would be better to consider hands-on training, which directly affects the child?