Jobs in Childcare
Childcare refers to supervising or caring for children under the age of eight years. It is also called early childhood education or early years education due to an increased awareness of the impact of early experiences of a child on his or her psychological development. With governments spending more on creating early childhood workforce to improve the quality of support young children receive; a lot of jobs in childcare are opening up.
Jobs in childcare are diverse and offer different roles and working environments. On a broader level, jobs in childcare can be divided into two categories – home-based care such as nannies and family care and centre-based care such as day-care and preschool.
Different levels of qualifications are needed to work at various stages of career in early years and there is a range of training and education available to help you qualify and pursue part-time or full-time jobs in childcare.
The Children’s Workforce Development Council regulates the statutory framework and qualifications norms required for various jobs in childcare in United Kingdom. Training starts from Foundation Level (also called Level 1) to Foundation Degree (Level 5). Level 6 is the gold standard for people working with children and is called EYPS or Early Years Professional Status.
Working with children can be a rewarding one but almost all jobs in childcare demand high energy levels. While it is fun playing with young children, you need to take your job seriously. You must always keep in mind that their parents have entrusted them to you and you are responsible for their safety and well-being.
Work as a Nanny
Becoming a nanny can be a satisfying career and it lets you contribute to a child’s learning and development. The responsibilities of a nanny may vary from one household to another depending on how you negotiate with the child’s parents but the basics remain the same. Normally you are expected to provide care for the child, mentally stimulate them by playing and reinforce appropriate discipline. You may also be required to cloth them, prepare meals and do the laundry.
Although nannies are largely female, male nannies or mannies are also not uncommon. These jobs can be part-time or full-time or on a live-in or live-out basis. Many parents and nanny placement agencies prefer you to have a professional childcare qualification such as Level 3 Diploma for jobs in childcare as defined by Children’s Workforce Development Council.
Work as a Childminder
The roles and responsibilities a childminder are similar to a nanny except that they work in their homes instead of the child’s home. They must have a professional qualification recognised by the local authority and must hold a paediatric first-aid certificate. They must register themselves with OFSTED or the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. A childminder can only take care of a maximum of six children.
Work in Playgroups or Pre-schools
Pre-schools provide early education to children aged two to five years. They primarily focus on building social and educational skills in children through play and play-based activities. Pre-school education improves the confidence in the young children and helps them adapt faster to a school environment. This segment offers the most number of jobs in childcare.
Playgroups generally operate for about two to three hours during school term time. Playleaders or the people who take care of children in preschools are required to have at least a Level 3 qualification as defined for jobs in childcare by Children’s Workforce Development Council.
Work in Nurseries
Nurseries may operate as voluntary or community organisations or private business or as a part of a school. They vary greatly in size, handling about 15 children to around 100 children. There is greater emphasis on educational play and child development than childcare alone.
Normally you can join a nursery as a trainee nursery assistant without a childcare qualification but to progress further in the career you need a minimum Level 3 qualification. With adequate experience and proper qualifications, you can move up to become a qualified nursery assistant, supervisor and finally a manager of the nursery.