From the age of about 14 my daughter had her heart set on going to Norland College in Bath. We took her to her first open day at about age 15, then 16, then 17 and finally the day came and she was applying to join Set 43 in September 2019. After a nervous interview process she was accepted and the countdown began.
For those that don't know - "Norland Nannies are known for their exceptional training, flexible approach and professionalism" - they are recognised by their Mary Poppins style traditional uniforms and tend to work for royalty and high net worth families, they are very much in demand and considered to be the very best there is!
Dropping her off to Bath that September was an emotional experience but as parents, the best thing we can do for our children is encourage them to fly the nest, to be independent and confident. However, she was suffering from a really nasty cold and her first week - Welcome Week - was exhausting but thank goodness for new friends. Her new housemate Holly took her under her wing and despite a few ups and downs, and the fact that Emily is 5 ft and Holly is 6 ft, they looked after each other throughout their 3 years in Bath. Friends made at university are life long and she has so many wonderful memories, I love hearing what they are all getting up to!
I think homesickness was one of her biggest challenges, that and a pandemic to contend with! Just as she was settling into living away from home, so she had to come back! Now when she looks back over her 3 years at Norland College, she realises how the time flew by and there are days when she wishes she was back at uni!
Personal blog post with some affiliate links.
Graduating from Norland College
On 31st March 2023 Emily graduated with a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development and Learning from Norland College. The Graduation Ceremony took place at the newly renovated Bath Abbey and was the first Norland awarded degree ceremony to take place in their home city of Bath!
The weather was awful but it was still the most fabulous day! We were lucky to be able to invite 5 guests to the ceremony and celebrate after with Emily.
When you join Norland College you are actually studying for two significant qualifications which is why the fees for this private college are considerably higher than a standard university and why only part of the fees are available to borrow on a student loan. But Norland College do offer a number of bursaries and it is worth enquiring to see if you might be eligible.
You study for your degree alongside the diploma - but the degree graduation comes first, in the Spring following completion of the three year course the previous summer. Alongside their academic studies, students also work towards gaining their prestigious Norland Diploma, this is the practical part of the course and includes such things as sewing, food and nutrition, work placements and the final NQN (Newly Qualified Nanny) year working in a paid role with the full support of the Norland NQN team. Once this is successfully completed then a second graduation follows where students are awarded with their Norland Diploma and can now officially call themselves a Norland Nanny. Emily is currently on her NQN year in London and her Norland Diploma graduation ceremony will be in Spring 2024.
The Graduation Ceremony - Bath Abbey
The start of the day is a bit of a rush! We had chosen to stay at the Abbey Hotel, Bath as it was so close to Guildhall and Bath Abbey, a really super location in Bath City Centre. My elderly father was with us, and using a wheelchair, so this worked out very well. Emily had to be at Guildhall by 8.30 am to get fitted for her graduation robe. Her professional 'Graduation' photo was also taken at this time.
I went with her to Guildhall and we had an opportunity to take a few of our own photos, although I hadn't planned for this - I wish I'd realised sooner that the weather was going to be rubbish all day and that quiet half hour was the best chance to get photos like the back of the robe and with her friends! Oh well - you live and learn!
We went back to the the Abbey Hotel for breakfast with strict instructions not to spill porridge on her robe or dress! We met up with the rest of our group and I finished getting ready then we made our way to Bath Abbey in time for the doors to open at 10 am. The rain was torrential and and it was very windy, so waiting outside the Abbey wasn't ideal. We did eventually get priority access due to dad being in a wheelchair and we had reserved seats in the front section.
The service was just amazing, emotional, interesting, tear-jerking and a wonderful experience to be part of. I did not go to university so this was my first ever graduation ceremony. I am so desperately proud of her achievement! She isn't naturally academic so some of the degree work did challenge her but she has a lot of determination and a massive amount of common sense and is excellent at organisation and very professional.
When she was called up to accept her degree certificate, I didn't know whether to just watch and enjoy or take a photo! I opted for the 'enjoy the moment' approach as I knew there was a professional photographer! Although after the ceremony I was delighted to learn that my dad had managed to get a couple of snaps!
Having 5 guests was a little stressful to navigate who was where and especially with my elderly dad, the wheelchair was a good idea though, his mobility isn't great. He can be a bit wobbly and usually uses a walking frame but for this special day and considering the weather I was happy to have him confined to one space! I wouldn't have wanted him to miss it for the world, we all desperately missed mum being with us, she would have loved every moment and been a very very proud Grandma. Although she knew Emily was going to Norland College and was able to visit her during her first term in Bath, her dementia is now too advanced for her to be able to leave the care home.
The service lasted about 1.5 hours and at the end the Graduates are taken to an area within the Abbey to have a group photograph taken, I could have watched and taken my own photos of them all throwing their graduation caps in the air but (a) I didn't realise I could and (b) I really needed to stay with my dad. But if you are reading this in preparation for another year, do try and make your way to the front so you can get some photos!
Now obviously if the weather had played ball we'd have taken some beautiful photos outside the Abbey! But it didn't and the one we did get, we look cold and windswept so we gave up and hurried back to Guildhall where Emily had to return her robe by 1 pm but not before we got all the family photos, without the wind blowing my hair all over the place. Guildhall gets busy after the ceremony as the Norland Diploma graduates are gathering in preparation for their 2 pm ceremony.
How we celebrated!
Then it was time to go back to the hotel. I am glad we opted to have lunch at the hotel, this was decided to avoid too much walking for my dad but it also worked better considering the weather. We had organised 'Champagne and Canapés' in the Artbar at the hotel, such a lovely bar area with some really colourful and striking art on display and for sale. Then we had a table in a quiet area of the hotel restaurant, although the restaurant was actually pretty deserted that day, so if you want the buzz of other people around, maybe not the best choice. But for us it was perfect. The restaurant service was excellent and we loved the food, we had pre-ordered from the events menu and the chef was happy to make a few adjustments to suit our needs.
Staying at the Abbey Hotel, Bath
As already mentioned the Abbey Hotel in Bath is very well situated for access to Bath Abbey but also for the town centre, main tourist attractions and Pulteney Bridge. We did have a few problems at check-in with the room allocations, but the management and staff worked very hard to resolve the issues and after the initial check-in our stay went exceptionally smoothly.
I would absolutely recommend the hotel, it is very convenient and the rooms are stylish and well maintained. We had a Gallery King Room with a view overlooking the Pulteney Bridge and Weir. There were some building works still going on which did detract from the outlook a little but hopefully they will be finished soon - and I hear they will be opening up their terrace seating very soon, a super location to sit and watch the world go by. It is also one of the few hotels in Bath with parking very close by - Manvers Street Car Park is a 2 minute walk and you can pull up outside the hotel to unload first.
Staying at the Abbey Hotel Bath was perfect, the location was easy and the hotel
looked after us very well!
What we wore!
Emily chose the Cheetah Print Midi Dress from Whistles in green/multi with some gold, it fitted her very well and although she bought sandals she made the decision to wear ankle boots on the day because of the rain. She chose the dress because she felt the colours would suit the graduation robe and they did!
I chose a Rixo shirt dress, the Maddison in navy cream checkerboard, I loved wearing it, it felt gorgeous on, it is a very lightweight, floaty fabric and the design skims and flatters, a shirt dress is a universal style that suits so many. I accessorised it with the Rixo Aakshi tied-on leather belt - an expensive addition but I loved the pop of red - then I added my black suede ankle boots and small black Kate Spade bag.
It was difficult trying to decide on a suitable outfit, we both love dresses but the end of March is so unpredictable weather wise, we didn't want anything too summery but then we didn't want winter dresses either, we wanted to inject a bit of spring! For my dress Emily and I spent the day in Marylebone, I really wanted a Rixo dress and although I tried on styles in Wyse London (wrong fit) and Me+Em (too much fabric) I still went back to Rixo, I could have bought 3 or 4 dresses, I loved so many of them. Rixo is great for special occasions but I think the dress I chose will also dress down nicely with flat shoes or trainers.
A graduation gift
I decided to buy Emily some gorgeous jewellery to match her dress, and we went to Monica Vinader in Marylebone, she chose the Siren Pendant Charm with Green Onyx and the matching Siren Stud Earrings. For 20% off at Monica Vinader use my code MVINSIDER20-2612.
And Emily sent me and her dad a graduation card, with the sweetest message thanking us for all our support ... 'we made it to graduation day' yes there were certainly times in the last three years where we did wonder! She does say 'without you both I would not have been able to make it to this day' well I disagree, it takes a huge amount of strength and fortitude to keep going when things seem too difficult and homesickness is real. We were there for her every step of the way and there were some late night telephone calls and a quite a few tears but wow is she proud of herself now! The funniest story was the telephone call at 2 am panicking as she realised that in the rush from a London placement back to Bath for a formal occasion her uniform brogues had been left at home and she needed them by 9 am! I did suggest to my husband he might like to get up early to deliver them but funnily enough he agreed to send a courier! But then there was also the time she'd been clubbing with Ella and Beth and they called me at 3 am to tell me all about it, yes it was lovely to be included but not sure I was that keen on being woken up.
And a few final words about Norland Nannies
Studying at Norland College and indeed having a career as a Norland Nanny is immensely rewarding and a very vocational career path, you certainly need to love children and be passionate about childcare. The hours can be long and tiring but the rewards are worth it, this is a career that can lead you to so many opportunities around the world and for the rest of your life. It is not just about being a Nanny, there are so many career options, further study, places to see, people to meet - the World really is her oyster and I can't wait to see what awaits her and her friends from Set 43!
And a few fun facts about Norland Nannies ...
There are male and female Norland Nannies!
They don't wear their uniform for working, only when they are studying and for any formal occasions where an employer might ask them to.
Yes they do command higher salaries but they are very highly trained and can walk into any job or household and know what to do.
They have lessons on things like self-defence, hairdressing, how to fillet fish, use an aga and anti-kidnap techniques.
The children they look after are called their 'charges' and they will always be discrete and respect confidentiality.
They appreciate the value of a good routine, know how to entertain their charges even without toys, won't rely on TV or iPads and will always cook fresh, healthy meals - and you might even get your dressing up outfit for World Book Day organised!
I can't wait to do it all again next year! The Norland Diploma Graduation is held in the afternoon and they wear full uniform, so a slightly different experience, but wonderful to do it twice.
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September and empty nesting ...
Disclaimer: this blog post contains some affiliate links.
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