Plenty of great nannies have no formal qualifications. Some parents take the view that the most important skills for a nanny are practical and emotional, and best garnered from experience. Others feel that qualifications show that a nanny is serious about their profession, and that by knowing about stages of child development they can better anticipate and support a child through them.
Parents tend to pay most attention to qualifications during the selection process prior to the interview. This is particularly the case for family with more specialised needs, such as a child with special educational needs or disabilities, maternity nursing for a newborn, or working with multiples. All families will benefit from the nanny having up to date training on topics such as sleep needs, feeding frequency, or managing allergies.
This blog will cover the minimum you should look for when it comes to nanny qualifications, and offer you some pointers for navigating the plethora of qualifications that could feature on a CV, including international equivalents.
Childcare qualifications are predominantly guided by the Early Years Foundation Stages (EYFS). This sets the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. While nannies are unregulated, the training they opt for tends to be informed by the practices of Ofsted-registered early years providers.
There are certain accredited qualifications that can count towards child: staff ratios in nurseries, and which are most likely to be on a par with the skills and knowledge a nanny needs. These qualifications focus on Early Years Education, Childcare, Playwork, and Children’s Learning and Development, rather than Health and Social Care. There are also some relevant training courses that aren’t independently accredited, such as Makaton/baby signing and cooking for children.
If you’d like to really understand the qualifications of an individual nanny, you can ask questions at interview like: What content did it cover? How was the course taught (online, tutor groups, demonstrations, placements etc.)? How was learning assessed (multiple choice tests, written assignments, portfolios of evidence, observations etc.)?
Nannies coming to interview will typically bring a folder which includes their original qualification certificates. It’s well worth looking at these, because candidates are often lax about using the full and proper names of their qualifications on their CV. In some instances nannies will have attended training courses, but won’t have paid the additional fee to take an exam or to be accredited. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you mind about this.
Paediatric First Aid and the Ofsted registration bundle
One thing that all parents tend to agree on is the importance of paediatric first aid training. This should be renewed every three years. A good nanny should have done the 12 hour version which involves both theory and practice. This qualification is required for Ofsted registration, so if they’re Ofsted-registered, they’ve done it.
Ofsted registration isn’t a qualification as such, but a box-ticking exercise to allow a nanny to be paid using childcare vouchers (which requires an Ofsted number). To become Ofsted registered, nannies need to show that they’ve done four things:
- got public liability insurance;
- done an Ofsted compliant 12 hour paediatric first aid course;
- completed the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, and;
- undertaken a course for the Common Core Skills that covers the 6 common core skills (communicating with children and young people, child development, safeguarding children, supporting transitions, multi-agency team working, and information sharing). This final component typically takes 2 days to complete.
Level and Size
There are hundreds of relevant qualifications that a nanny to have, and it’s not practical to list them all here. Instead, we’ll outline a few rules of thumb to help you get your bearings.
Let’s start with the two key dimensions to accredited qualifications: level and size.
- Level refers to the proficiency expected. The scale ranges from 1 to 8, with Level 1 being the lowest. A lot of childcare qualifications cluster around the Level 2 or Level 3 mark, with the latter tending to be achieved by those working unsupervised with children. To give you some context, a Level 2 is comparable to GCSE A* to C, a Level 3 is comparable to A and AS Levels, and Level 4 is comparable to year one of a university degree. Level 4 is often required to achieve managerial roles in a nursery.
- Size is denoted in terms of being an Award, a Certificate, or a Diploma, and indicated by the number of credits a course carries. The rough rule of thumb is 1 credit for every 10 hours of learning. The shortest courses will be Awards (carrying 1-12 credits), followed by Certificates, and finally Diplomas (carrying 27 credits or more).
Sometimes you’ll come across international qualifications on CV. There’s an official service that works out the equivalence of qualifications relative to the EYFS standards (NARIC Statement of Comparability for the Early Years Sector), but it’s expensive at £120 per qualification. Within Europe, a simple rule to follow is a European Qualification Framework (EQF) Level is one level higher than the UK equivalent i.e. Level 3 in France is a Level 2 in the UK.
Thankfully, most international nannies do at least one qualification here in the UK -- so it’s rare to be confronted with a CV of just overseas qualifications.