Hi, my name is Amy and I work at The Mulberry Bush with children aged 18 to 24 months old. I am a modern apprentice and I have worked here for roughly 4 weeks.

Here is my story…

When I left school (May 2023), I had no idea what I wanted to do. It played on my mind all the time. I put myself forward for multiple courses at a variety of colleges, though I wasn’t sure if this pathway was for me as I struggled throughout school and didn’t really have a set passion in anything in particular. I applied for Hairdressing, Childcare, and Health and Social Care.

Just before I left secondary school, I got offered a job doing admin in an office in Southampton. On days I didn’t have any exams, I went and worked for a few hours to earn some money. I carried on working at this office throughout the summer, and when it got close to me going to college, my boss asked me to stay on and to do an AAT course. I thought about it for a couple of days and accepted their kind offer; however, when they put me through my AAT course, I really struggled. I spent around 6 months looking for a new job once I realised I didn’t want this as a career.

At this point, I still had no clue what I wanted to do properly. I applied for college again for a back-up plan if I couldn’t find a new job by September 2024, and my mum and I sat down and spoke about my likes and dislikes. We spoke about all the jobs I really didn’t want to do so we could cross them off the list. She explained how she had worked in childcare for 10 years and is a level 3 qualified nursery practitioner, encouraging me to investigate this pathway to see if I would enjoy doing this too, and helped look online for nursery apprenticeships. Once I had done a lot of thinking and research, I realised I would really enjoy childcare as I love to work with children.

After I had applied for multiple nurseries, I got an interview for The Mulberry Bush. I was over the moon about it. I accepted the interview and came to the nursery. The management let me have 40 minutes within the room with the children to see if I enjoyed it, then I answered a couple of questions in the office.

After my interview I went back home and was very happy and pleased with how the interview went. The 40 minutes I was in the room with the children went by so fast! From that moment I knew this was the job for me and that I would enjoy it very much. A few days later, I got a call saying they would like to offer me the job. I knew I wanted this apprenticeship, and I knew this was the right pathway for me. I knew being trained on the job was better for my needs than sitting in a classroom all day.

When I first started working at The Mulberry Bush, I didn’t have very many responsibilities as I was new. As I have been here longer, I have gained more responsibilities. For example, I help dish out food to the children, change nappies, and help settle the children to sleep. The routine at a nursery is always the same to ensure everything runs smoothly and on time.

Some days we have a lot of children, and on other days we don’t have very many. As an apprentice, I get moved rooms frequently for cover. This is because the level 3 qualified nursery practitioners can’t leave level 2 qualified in a room on their own. You should also expect to always be tidying up as the room gets messy quickly.

Some days I feel like I’m asking a million different questions and worry I must be such a nuisance for my colleagues; however, that isn’t the case and couldn’t be further from the truth. You should ask lots of questions, so you know for the future, and have confidence to do so.

Overall, I think being an apprentice is great alternative option to college. I get all the support I need with Showcase, and having time out during work hours is helpful to me so I don’t have to rush to do all the coursework in my spare time. All the staff within my setting and Showcase are all so helpful and supportive.

At my setting, we get given ‘apprentice time out’. This is where your setting allocates a certain number of hours out of the room for coursework. You bring your own laptop in and textbooks to ensure you have everything you need. I get 6 hours a week to do my coursework and the rest of the time I’m in the room with the children. During my timeout, I sit in what we call the nurture room which is a spare classroom that apprentices can sit in to do their work.

I really enjoy working in early years as a whole, and I love everything about my job. In my room, most of the children are independent, but they still need a little bit of help and reassurance, maybe a cuddle here and there. I love watching each child develop as an individual to the best of their ability with help from me. I like coming up with activities that everyone can get involved in no matter their needs. I really enjoy coming to work and seeing the children get happy and excited to see me, and I enjoy helping children to talk and learn colours and numbers.

In early years, you come across many challenges, for example it could be difficult to communicate with a non-verbal child if you are new. You may also find it challenging when you come across a child with behavioural issues, especially if they are undiagnosed. You may not know the child’s likes or dislikes, and it may be challenging to communicate with them. You also must be aware of all the risks and hazards within your setting and how to solve the issue. You may find it challenging when handling an accident or injury for the first time, and it could be very overwhelming so make sure you do seek help and ask questions when needed. Your colleagues are there to help and support you.

In the future, I am hoping to go on to get a level 2 and 3 certificate in childcare. I then would like to stay in childcare for a little while after passing my apprenticeship After that, I would really like to be a social worker or a family support worker. I am really inspired by social workers from my experiences with them and I really want to be able to help as many children as I can to live a better life and to be happy. I have also investigated being a therapist for poorly children in hospital.

My tips for anyone who is looking to go into early years apprenticeship, would be to make sure you complete your work by the correct deadlines. Ensure you have completed all your feedback that your tutor has given you to the best of your ability. NEVER be afraid to ask for help!! Always speak to DSL or your room leader if you have a safeguarding concern – even if you are unsure, it is worth asking. You need to be passionate about wanting to do this job and make sure it’s something you really want to do.

Amy Jones  xoxo

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