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City College Childcare and Early Years student at nursery with toddlers

What’s it like to do a Childcare course at City College Norwich?

31st May 2019

If you love being around children, and like the idea of working with children for a living, our childcare courses will give you the skills, experience, and qualifications you need to enter this rewarding sector.

But what’s it actually like to do a Childcare course? We spoke to some of the students on the Working with Children in Early Years and Primary Settings Level 2 course to find out.     

Why choose Childcare?

Childcare is focused on two main age groups: pre-school (under 5s) and the first key stage of primary school (5- to 7-year-olds).  Students who choose a Childcare course have a strong idea that they would like to work with one of these age groups.  The course can help you discover which of the two you would be best suited to.

It is essential that you really do enjoy spending large amounts of time with young children. You also need to be interested in learning about their development, needs and behaviour.  Childcare students usually have previous experience of looking after children, whether that’s younger brothers and sisters, as babysitters, or in other ways.

“I come from a large family and I’ve always been around children”, says Childcare student Eleanor, “so I thought I’d love to do this as a job.  I feel quite passionate about children and I’d love to help them succeed in their later life, so that’s why I chose this course.”

Not an easy option

It’s also important that you aren’t considering Childcare for the wrong reasons.  Course lecturer Judith says that some people mistakenly think it might be an easier choice of course.  She told us:

“Childcare is not an easy option.  You have to spend a large amount of time gaining experience on placement, at least 300 hours in professional working environments, in order to pass the course. You have to learn about things like legislation, child development, nutrition, and pass assessments on them – it’s not just playing.”  

Your time in college and on placement

For students on Level 2 and 3 Childcare courses, you are required to spend 2 days a week on placement for the duration of the course – spending half this time gaining experience in a pre-school setting and half in a primary setting.

Students are timetabled to come into college on the other 3 days.  There is a strong emphasis on linking your placement experiences with what is learnt in the classroom. 

Student Molly says, “The placements mean we get to experience working with different ages and you get to find out what you like.  The mix of placements and college learning definitely helps because we talk about things like child development in class and you can relate to it from your placement experience.”

A responsible role, with room for fun!

So what do you learn on the course? The Level 2 and 3 courses cover key topics such as contributing to positive relationships, keeping children safe, support children’s development, preparing and maintaining environments to meet children’s needs and supporting children’s play and learning.

Throughout these topics, lecturer Judith says that there’s a focus on developing the high standards expected of any childcare professional:

“You’re going to be a role model to children in how you speak, how you dress, how you encourage and praise. You will influence the next generation, you are in such an influential position, because children will look up to you. A child is the most precious possession anybody has, and you’re being trusted with that – it’s quite a responsibility.”

With play being a key element in how young children learn and develop, students on the course told us that their time at college and on placement is also a lot of fun.  Eleanor summed it up by saying, “It’s great fun! This course is so much fun!”

Positive, caring and friendly

The students we spoke to also described Childcare as a close and supportive community.  Eleanor continues:

“The best thing about the course is just being around people who want to do what you want to do and who love it as much as you do.  It’s nice to interact with people who have the same passions and everyone’s really friendly.”

Olivia commented: “The environment is nice, it’s positive, caring, friendly.”  She says this also applies to the lecturers: “The teachers are just so friendly, and they help you out.  If you’re having a hard time, if you’re behind, they’re always there for you.”

Molly added: “It’s a nice atmosphere. Our teachers don’t treat us like children. It’s down to earth and at the same time it’s focused - you feel more like an adult.”

Career opportunities

Taking a Level 2 or 3 course in Childcare gives you a clear route into a rewarding career in which no two days are ever the same.  On completion of the course you can go straight into employment as a nursery assistant, classroom assistant, or a pre-school assistant, or you can take your learning further through a degree-level course or an Apprenticeship.

The wide range of opportunities means we have students pursuing each of these different options, depending on their immediate and longer-term career goals. 

There are lots of career development opportunities in childcare and early years education, up to and including degree level (click here to see the full range of course offered at City College Norwich).

You could start out as a nursery assistant, or working in a childminding setting, and develop the qualifications and experience over time to become a manager of a nursery or other childcare setting.  Many of our students also go on to successful careers in primary school teaching.  

Find out more and apply

To find out more about Childcare courses at City College Norwich, come along to one of our Open events or Information Evenings, where you will be able to talk to staff from the area.  You can also speak to a course advisor from our Advice Shop at any time – we are open Monday to Friday during both term time and the school holidays.

Or you can click here to apply online today for this course.