How the Most Expensive Nannies in the World Train
Narrator: These are among the most exclusive and highly trained nannies in the world.
Andy Tombling: Ready? Here we go.
Narrator: They learn self-defense and advanced driving techniques. And even their cooking skills are a cut above.
Janet Rose: We are sort of training a league of supernannies.
Narrator: Think Mary Poppins...with a little James Bond.
The course at Norland College in England costs them $21,000 a year. But after graduation, they can command salaries of $170,000. That’s four times the average nanny salary in the UK. Britain’s royal family has even hired them. So what does it take to become one of the most exclusive nannies in the world?
Trained to protect themselves and the children in their care, Norland nannies are part of an elite. Often working for high-profile employers, they’re expected to deal with potential threats, like kidnap attempts.
Alice: Unfortunately, I have had an experience where a man tried to take the little girl that I used to look after. I said, “You need to give her back.” And he said no. And so I just had to pull her off of him whilst holding onto the buggy where her baby brother was.
It is scary, but that’s why I think parents hire Norlanders – because we are given that extensive training for these worst-case scenarios. Because actually, the big wide world is very scary. And you are looking after them as a prized possession.
Andy Tombling: No, your hands are shaking.
Student: Got the adrenaline going.
Andy Tombling: In the career they’ve chosen, a lot of them don’t realize what they’re capable of. But after getting them into this, they really do command themselves.
Narrator: It takes four years to become a fully qualified Norland nanny – three years of study followed by a year’s placement with a family. And it’s more expensive than studying at Oxford or Cambridge University. But the idea is that their qualification will soon start paying off.
Janet Rose: Within a year, they are actually averaging about 40,000 [pounds] a year. So that’s a young person in their early 20s probably earning more money than perhaps an up-and-coming accountant or lawyer.
Narrator: With the nannies earning that kind of money, skills like cooking and sewing have to be at the highest level.
Kate: When I was on my residential placement, the family had such a varied diet. They were really into satay chicken, and we had lemongrass chicken a lot. So a lot of Pan-Asian flavors, and it was really nice to see.
Instructor: So you place your nori with the shiny side down.
Narrator: These third-year students are learning how to make child-friendly sushi.
Instructor: And then you’re using the bamboo mat to roll your sushi up.
Imogen: I really don’t enjoy cooking, to be honest. And so the lessons have been really, really helpful for myself as I am not a confident cook.
Kate Jaeger: The students do three years of sewing with us alongside their BA, and they work through a series of six projects, developing their machine and hand-sewing skills.
Student: Yes, of course.
Kate Jaeger: It could be just doing name labels and buttons or things that, you know, every family, all families need. But going on to making things for their charges, their children might have ideas, and they’ll make things with them or for them.
Student: Is it an undoable knot?
Teacher: I hope so.
Instructor: This carriage pram would take a child up to about 2 1/2 years of age. So do we remember what this is called?
Student: That’s the apron.
Instructor: The apron, absolutely. And you don’t use that when you’re inside because it could make the baby too hot.
Narrator: The students also learn how to prepare an old-fashioned pram.
Instructor: Remember, with carriage prams you don’t have to do hospital corners, but you just want to make it as tidy and neat as you possibly can in the pram.
Narrator: Norland nannies still use these today, in college and in the workplace.
Instructor: Remember, attention to detail is really important. So make that look neat and tidy.
Narrator: But principal Dr. Janet Rose wants to modernize the image, both of the college and of the nannying profession. Knowing how to control a car in skid is just one of the skills a modern-day Norland nanny can offer clients.
Norland College was founded by Emily Ward nearly 130 years ago. Her aim was to encourage a better and more educated class of women to enter the ranks of domestic service.
Janet Rose: So here we have the very first probationers all the way back in 1892, the very first students at Norland. And here we have a photograph of one of our Norlanders who worked for the Greek royal family.
Narrator: Back then, nannies had to wear nurses’ uniforms to differentiate themselves from the household servants. Puffed sleeves and pinafores were replaced over time by a modest beige dress, brown bowler hat and brogues, and white cotton gloves.
Nannies are still required to be immaculate and abide by strict rules. Smoking is banned, as is buying alcohol, fast food, or even a takeaway coffee.
Freja: I definitely found the uniform really appealing. I think there’s something about wearing this uniform. You know, you represent 125-plus years of heritage, and this uniform means a lot. It means that we’re highly trained and we’re really passionate about doing what we do.
Narrator: The college wants to attract more diverse, more international students. Norland is also taking on university status.
Janet Rose: Soon we will become Norland University, and we’ll be the first specialist early-years university in the world.
Narrator: But for Freja, becoming a Norland Nanny isn’t about pay or prestige; it’s about a passion for the job.
Freja: I want children to learn because they want to. I want them to explore because they want to and be curious about the world. And for me, seeing that is the most rewarding thing ever. That’s more rewarding than any paycheck I could ever get. Seeing a child exploring, being curious, wanting to learn, wanting to grow. That’s just so incredible.
Narrator: Which sounds, for parents who can afford it, practically perfect in every way.