There are many different job roles you can have in childcare.
- Nursery roles
- Pre-schools and play group roles
- Playworker roles
- Men in childcare
- Working in a Children’s Centre
- Childcare in Forest Schools
Working in a nursery involves being part of a team and caring for babies and children up to the age of five. You will work with parents and carers to make sure that the nursery gives their children the best care possible. That means providing a safe and stimulating environment for the children doing a variety of creative activities, taking them out on trips and generally making sure they are having fun whilst they are learning.
There are all kinds of nurseries, run by private businesses, the local council, voluntary or community groups, schools, colleges and other employers. Because of this, opening times can be different in each nursery. Some are open all year, except weekends and bank holidays, while others are open only during school term times. And some will open early in the morning (7am or earlier) and can stay open until 7pm or later.
By law, half the people who work in a nursery need to hold a valid childcare qualification. This means that most nurseries look for a good mix of qualified and unqualified people. And if you’re looking to gain a qualification, the work you do in your nursery can, in many cases, count towards your course.
If you have not worked in a nursery before, you will probably start as a nursery assistant, while you work towards a Level 2 qualification in Early Years. Usually, you will work with a nursery nurse or supervisor, who will help you pick up the skills you need.
You will need plenty of energy and enthusiasm. Working with children can be extremely hard work – but great fun at the same time. And the results you get can be very rewarding.
Nursery Nurse / Supervisor
If you are a nursery assistant and interested in moving into a more senior position, you could choose to take a Level 3 qualification in Early Years. This will give you the chance to become a nursery nurse or supervisor.
You will supervise members of the team, as well as coming up with new ideas to help the children get the most out of their time in the nursery. As your experience increases, you may be able to move up into a nursery manager role.
Pre-schools and playgroups care for children usually from two until five years old, for either a morning or an afternoon. As part of the team, you’ll play an important role in helping children to learn about the wider world, develop their social and learning skills and get ready for going into primary school. You’ll also work closely with parents and carers, keeping them up-to-date on a variety of issues to make sure that their children enjoy a fun, safe and caring environment.
Most of these playgroups are run by local community or voluntary organisations, usually during school term-time only, and offer the chance for children to go to either a morning or an afternoon session. They often ask parents to help out and the way they work means that many playgroup staff enjoy a lot of flexibility in their working hours to fit around their busy lives.
Ofsted require half the people who work in a playgroup need to be qualified. This means that most groups look for a good mix of qualified and unqualified people. If you don’t have a qualification you can start as an apprentice and, if you decide to become qualified, your experience will help towards your training
As a pre-school assistant, you will work with a more experienced supervisor, who will help you to develop your skills. You will have the chance to work towards a Level 2 qualification in Early Years, while building up your experience in a lively, fun atmosphere.
Naturally, you’ll need to be a good communicator with the ability to get on with people from a variety of backgrounds. Most of all, you will need a sense of fun, the patience to work with young children and the drive and enthusiasm to make your group a caring, safe and enjoyable place for children to be.
From being a pre-school assistant, the next step is to become a supervisor. This will involve taking a Level 3 qualification in Early Years, or equivalent qualification. Once you’ve qualified, you will be able to work on your own initiative and supervise the work of others.
As a supervisor, you will need the ability to gain the confidence of others, come up with new ideas for activities and make sure the group is an enjoyable place for both children and staff.
Childminders generally work in their own homes, looking after children of all ages. This is an extremely flexible way of working because, as a childminder, you will be self-employed, so you can set your own hours and your own fees. This means you can choose to work full or part-time, depending on your own family circumstances.
In return for this flexibility, you will need to register as a childminder if you look after any children, under the age of 8, for more than two hours a day usually in your own home for any kind of payment. You do not have to register if the only children you look after are close relatives, or if you only look after them between 6pm and 2am.
If you are interested in becoming a childminder, you will need to attend a pre-registration session where you will find out more about becoming a childminder. You can find out when your next local session will take place by contacting the Early Years Business Support Team on email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will also need to complete an introductory childcare course, as well as First Aid training. You will also need to register with the Office for Standards in Education Ofsted however your local Business Support Officer in Early Years will help you to do this. The Business Support Officer will also check your home to help you ensure that it meets the standards for childminding. You and other members of your household over the age of 16 will be required to undergo a police check.
Once you are registered, there are other courses that you can take, such as a Level 3 qualification in Early Years to improve your skills and help you give the children in your care the best possible start in life.
Breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, homework clubs, holiday play schemes, open access schemes and adventure playgrounds – all come under the banner of playwork. Usually they are aimed at giving 4-16 year olds activities to get involved in outside of school hours.
Getting involved in playwork is a chance to help children enjoy playing in a safe environment and giving them the freedom to choose exciting activities for themselves. It can be demanding work – but extremely rewarding, too.
It is the kind of work that appeals to people from all kinds of backgrounds. As part of a team you will be giving children the chance to get involved in any number of interesting activities. That means doing anything from organising and joining in with games to making breakfast, giving them a safe place to play and even making learning fun while helping with homework.
As an assistant playworker you will work with a more experienced supervisor, who will help you to develop your skills, skills, as you work towards a Level 2 Award/Certificate/Diploma in Playwork qualification.
It is a hugely enjoyable and varied job – you could be playing counting games with toddlers, helping older children with arts and crafts, or kicking a football around with teenagers. And whatever you get involved with you will find the children’s natural enthusiasm and energy will rub off on you.
If you want to take on a more managerial role, then you can continue to study for further qualifications to become a senior playworker. This means you will be supervising a team of people, as well as taking on more organisational responsibilities.
You can choose from a number of courses to qualify for a more senior role, including a Level 3 Award/Certificate/Diploma in Playwork.
Childcare and early years work is consistently ranked within the top 10 most satisfying jobs. Studies have discovered that men’s experiences of working in childcare have been highly positive.
Positive features of childcare work include:
- variety within the working day
- satisfaction of helping children to learn, particularly through play
- gaining an understanding of a child’s perspective and the relationships formed with children, families and other workers.
Benefits to children
- A mixed workforce challenges stereotypes and demonstrates gender equality to young children.
- Men bring different experiences and “styles” of caring, as well as diversity, which is seen to enhance and enrich the experiences of children.
- Providing a range of positive role models.
- Children could benefit from a male perspective, men and women are different.
- Many children now grow up in one parent households and may not meet a man in a caring role until secondary school.
- Male children like to run, jump, play fight etc. In a day care setting this is often not encouraged.
- We celebrate differences culturally yet often not about gender. Equal opportunities.
55% percent of parents said they were in favour of men working in nurseries.
Children’s Centres provide a variety of advice and support for parents and carers. Their services are available to parents from pregnancy right through to when their child goes into reception class at primary school.
There are more than 3,600 Children’s Centres in England. They bring all the different support agencies together to offer a range of services to parents and their children’s needs, all in one place.
They are somewhere children can make friends and learn as they play. Parents can get professional advice on health and family matters, learn about training and job opportunities or just socialise with other people.
Services Children’s Centres must offer
- child and family health services, ranging from health visitors to breastfeeding support
- most centres offer high quality childcare and early learning – those that don’t can help advise on local childcare options
- advice on parenting, local childcare options and access to specialist services for families like speech therapy, healthy eating advice or help with managing money
- help with finding work or training opportunities, using links to local Jobcentre Plus offices and training providers
Other services they might offer
The services available will depend on your local area. At many Children’s Centres people can:
- see a dentist, dietician or physiotherapist
- visit the ‘stop smoking’ clinic
- get faster access to expert advice, support and short-term breaks if their child has learning difficulties or disabilities
- talk to Citizens Advice
- take parenting classes
- improve their English if it is not their first language – with someone from their own culture
Children’s Centre Manager
As a Children’s Centre Manager you will be responsible for ensuring the effective development, management and delivery of services and provide support to children and families. You will also manage and supervise the Children’s Centre team, work in partnership with other agencies, work closely with the childcare providers, ensure the sound management of Children’s Centre administrative and financial systems, including budgets and accounts and develop policies and procedures.
Children’s Centre Managers are usually qualified to degree level.
Family Support Worker
As a Family Support Worker you will give support at the Children’s Centre or at the homes of families who feel they need extra advice, befriending and help. Family Support Workers advise on childcare, parenting, social issues and behavioural problems. They help with parenting skills, sleeping routines, healthy eating, relationship problems, housing difficulties, listen to parents’ troubles, worries and concerns, signpost parents to specialist services and accompany them to appointments.
They can also help parents to; gain skills to change their circumstances, help them understand their rights and entitlements, help them meet new people and make new friends, help with finding nursery places for their children and help them become less anxious and more confident.
Family Support Workers are usually qualified to Level 3.