Nursery Worker

If you want to work with children now is a really good time to start your career.  Improving child care provision is high on the government's list of priorities and their aim is to provide each child living in a Flying Start area, access to free part-time childcare where staff are highly qualified, trained and DBS (Disclosure & Barring Scheme) checked.  A place could be offered from the term after the child's second birthday, to the term in which they celebrate their third birthday, or until they enter nursery education, whichever comes first.  In fact there is currently a shortage of qualified child care staff in many local authorities.  

Childcare workers/practitioners (sometimes known as nursery nurses) provide care and education for children aged up to 8 years old and they play an important part in a child's early life.  All local authorities employ childcare workers - sometimes in Education departments but also in Social Services, Children's Services and occasionally Leisure departments - but the exact job title varies according to the place and level of work.  Alternative job titles include nursery assistant, nursery nurse, nursery manager, crèche officer/manager, and child care worker.  Settings offer quality indoor and outdoor environments which help children settle and make new friends.  The Early Years and Childcare Induction Framework provides a structured start for workers in the first 12 weeks of employment.  The Early Years and Childcare Induction Framework can be found on the Care Council for Wales website

Work Environment
Childcare workers, playgroup leaders and deputies, nursery supervisors and deputy supervisors work with groups of young children in a range of child care facilities, including schools, nurseries, children's homes, crèches, play schemes, playgroups, health centres, Flying Start sessional care groups and  family centres.  The working environment offers quality indoor and outdoor provision, that are well planned with lots of opportunities for children to explore, discover and be curious about their world.  Working hours are various depending on the provision in which you will work. Working weeks can often involve early starts or late finishes and Saturdays.  Flying Start sessional care is available for 2½ hours per day, 5 days a week for 42 weeks a year.  This provision can be offered at a local playgroup, Cylch Meithrin, a day nursery, a children's centre, childminder or other Flying Start setting.  Childcare workers in schools work school hours and have school holidays.

Daily Activities
Childcare  workers are not just responsible for the care of children but also for ensuring the children have a positive environment in order to give them opportunities to reach their full potential and promote all areas of their development - so during a typical week they are involved in planning, which includes individual plans,  report writing and observations.   Childcare workers must also interact with the children and be positive role models.  Activities vary depending on the place of work, but typically duties include:

  • welcoming children and parents in the morning and settling the children;
  • the planning will determine the various activities that will be available on a daily basis for example: water and sand play, home corner, construction area, creative play area etc;
  • organising and leading group activities;
  • planning and setting out themed activity areas;
  • talking to and interacting with the children, keeping a watchful eye on the children's behaviour, encouraging shy children to participate and maintaining discipline;
  • providing healthy snacks and assisting them to develop their personal development skills;
  • reading stories to groups;
  • ensuring that children are playing safely, overseeing outdoor play;
  • clearing away after activities and at the end of the day;
  • completing paperwork, children's files and keeping records;
  • working closely with other staff at the nursery.

The role of the childcare worker also involves identifying children who need additional support or who may be experiencing physical or emotional difficulties.  In such cases they talk to the parents and other professionals such as Health Visitors, social workers, speech and language therapists and educational psychologists.

Skills & Interests
The most important qualities are a caring nature and a genuine interest in children and their development.  In addition you need:

  • an enthusiastic, cheerful and friendly personality;
  • communication and listening skills;
  • patience - with all children, but especially those with behavioural problems or special educational needs;
  • a calm nature and the ability to keep a cool head at all times;
  • team working skills and the ability to get on with adults (parents, colleagues and child care professionals);
  • creative skills and the ability to plan exciting activities;
  • plenty of energy;
  • a sense of humour!

Entry Requirements
The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) Children's Care, Learning and Development (CCLD) Diplomas at levels 2, 3, and 5 are the replacement qualifications for current vocational provision including National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).  Although it is possible to work in a nursery setting without qualifications, local authorities tend to look for qualified staff, and there are more and better opportunities for people with childcare qualifications.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
Promotion usually depends on both experience and qualifications.  Childcare Workers can become playgroup leaders or deputy leaders, supervisors or deputy supervisors, or Managers.  Some go on to set up their own nurseries.

Further Information & Services
Care Council for Wales
Council for Awards in Children's Care and Education
Help, advice and job-related information for nursery nurses
MNT Training
Mudiad Meithrin
Professional Association of Nursery Nurses 

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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