Working in a nursery | Oxfordshire County Council

Working in a nursery

Information on what nursery workers do, entry requirements and opportunities for development

Nursery career

What is a nursery?

Nurseries provide care, play and education for children under school age. They often take children from birth to four or five years old.

The number of children attending a nursery can vary from a very small group of about 15, to a very large group of over 100. They typically open all year round to fit with parent's working days, between 8am and 6pm or longer.

Nurseries may operate as a private business, a voluntary or community organisation, or be linked to a school. Some nurseries operate mainly as a workplace nursery for a specific employer.

What will I be doing?

The tasks you may be involved in when working in a nursery include:

  • encouraging children to develop social skills and discover more about the world through play
  • supporting children to explore the outdoors and their community
  • helping children to develop number and language skills through a wide variety of activities
  • feeding, bathing and dressing babies and youngest children, changing nappies and preparing bottles or baby food
  • nurturing children's natural curiosity
  • taking care of children's personal needs and helping them to learn to dress themselves, use cutlery and use the lavatory
  • ensuring appropriate health and safety and child protection requirements are met
  • building relationships with parents and other family members to support their child's development
  • observing and assessing children and producing brief written reports
  • consulting and attending meetings with other professionals, for example social workers, health workers or speech therapists.

Entry requirements

You can work or volunteer as a nursery assistant without any childcare qualifications. However you will need to have the desire and ability to undertake on-the-job training to achieve a minimum Level 2 or 3 qualification in order to be counted in the ratios.

In order to become a qualified Early Years Teacher you will need to have a GCSE maths, English, and science at grade C or above.

Opportunities for development

There are good opportunities for promotion, and with further qualifications and training you can progress to be an Early Years Teacher, a room supervisor, deputy manager or manager.

Last reviewed
12 July 2017
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