Nursery nurse and nursery assistant

Nursery nurses and nursery assistants look after pre-school age children.

This page has information on the role of a nursery nurses and assistants in the NHS, including entry requirements and skills needed. 

Working life

You could work as a nursery nurse or a nursery assistant and you'll work mainly with young patients, although you may work in a nursery caring for children of NHS staff. If you're a nursery assistant, you'll work under the supervision of a qualified nursery nurse.

girl looking at camera

The work of nursery nurses and nursery assistant includes

In addition, qualified nursery nurses may

Where will I work?

You could work in hospitals and in the community. In hospitals, this could include children's wards, nurseries and outpatients departments. In the community, you may work in health centres, community centres or children's centres. You might visit families at home, on your own or with health visitors

Who will I work with?

As a nursery nurse or nursery assistant, you'll work closely with parents and carers. As well as health play staff, you'll work with healthcare professionals such as nurses, health visitors and midwives. You may also work with social workers

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements for nursery assistants. Employers expect a good level of literacy and numeracy and may ask for GCSEs or equivalent qualifications. Employers may ask for a childcare qualification such as NVQ or BTEC. They usually expect some experience of childcare, which could be voluntary or paid, including experience within the family or babysitting. Apprenticeships in a childcare related role are sometimes available. Find out more about apprenticeships.

Nursery nurses have qualifications in childcare or early years. This could be, for example,

To get onto a childcare course you need GCSEs, including English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.

The Department for Education’s Early Years Qualifications list sets out the qualifications needed at each level of childcare.

Employers may also ask for qualifications in first aid or food hygiene.

Skills and personal characteristics

Nursery nurses and nursery assistants need to be

Training and development

You will get the training you need when you start the job including an introduction to the department and its procedures. Your training is likely to include food hygiene, first aid and safeguarding.

Nursery staff need to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. You will be able to attend ongoing training, sometimes on specific topics such as special needs.

Nursery assistants who do not have a childcare qualification will be encouraged to study for an NVQ, certificate or diploma. Both nursery nurses and nursery assistants may be offered the chance to study for further qualifications.

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