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In the beginning...
In Bessie Wright's book all about the National Nursery Examination Board, she writes that in the early years of nursery nurse training -
Nursery nursing originated as a result of, and within, the class structure.
On the one hand, there were ‘nannies’ - servants to the upper and upper-middle classes in the nineteenth century - and on the other, there were those employed by voluntary societies and workhouse institutions to support the orphaned, destitute and needy children of the lower classes.
The Norland Certificate
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the first attempts were being made to introduce a training course in ‘childcare’. The first formal training - for Ladies as a children’s nurse - commenced at London’s Norland Institute in September 1892 and was geared towards those who wished to work as ‘children’s nurses’.
Students were normally at least 18 years old but could be as old as 30 years.
The fees in 1892 were £36 for a six-month course that would entail the following -
Three months of residential training at the institute
The students were taught cookery, laundry (including washing stockings and curtains), household chores, polishing brass, filling sugar bowls etc. In the afternoons they had lectures, played kindergarten games, walk and exercise and in the evenings they would do needlework.
Six weeks of educational work
Educational work took part in the kindergarten departments of local schools and involved observing lessons and offering basic help to the teachers. The prevailing teaching philosophy was geared towards the psychological and emotional needs of children and the curriculum was underpinned by a firm moral foundation.
Three months in the children’s ward of a hospital
This period aimed to increase prospective children’s nurses’ knowledge of hygiene and pathology as well as offering an opportunity to learn about the sufferings of the less privileged.
After a short holiday, the probationer commenced her first job in a home. On completion of three months’ satisfactory work, she was granted the Norland Certificate.