Nursery assistants work in a childcare facility and help to create a safe, fun and educational environment for babies and young children up to five years of age.


As part of a nursery assistant role, you would be expected to help develop a positive curriculum and ensure the safety of young children in your care. You will work directly under the nursery teacher, or nursery nurse, a role that requires more schooling and experience.


Nursery assistants play a pivotal role in shaping a child’s education and development. The role is rewarding and lays the groundwork for a fulfilling career in childcare and early years education.

What does a nursery assistant do?


A nursery assistant plays a crucial role in contributing to the care, development, and well-being of young children. They get involved in several duties from supporting daily care routines to facilitating educational activities. A nursery assistant is a valuable member of the team, creating a positive and nurturing environment for children in their formative years.


Nursery assistants work in nurseries and provide care to babies and young children. They work under the supervision of experienced nursery workers like nursery nurses to create a supportive and safe environment for children to develop their social, developmental and educational skills. Their jobs include working directly with children in group activities like storytelling, singing and craft projects.


In the morning, nursery assistants will go through morning routines, which include comforting arrivals and facilitating breakfast. They will collaborate with nursery nurses to design and implement age-appropriate learning activities. A nursery assistant will also assist the nursery nurse and report any problems they notice amongst the children as well as creating a plan of action for solving the issue at hand. Towards the end of the day, nursery assistants guide children through end-of-day routines and help provide feedback to parents.

Responsibilities of a nursery assistant


Nursery assistant roles require individuals to be active and engaging with children on an individual level while still supervising the rest of the children. The role of a nursery assistant involves a range of responsibilities that directly impact the overall learning and growth of young children. Key duties include: 


  • Managing the daily schedule: Assisting with routine tasks such as feeding, toilet breaks, rest time and ensuring a clean environment for all children. 
  • Supporting educational activities: Collaborating with nursery nurses to plan and implement age-appropriate educational activities, including play, crafts, and group exercises. They help children learn numeracy and language through daily activities. 
  • Observing and reporting: Closely observing children’s behaviour, development, and interactions, and reporting any concerns or noteworthy observations to senior staff or parents. 
  • Health and safety: Adhering to health and safety regulations, conducting risk assessments, and ensuring a secure environment for children. 
  • Assisting with record keeping: Maintaining accurate records of children’s activities, progress, and any notable incidents. 

Is a nursery assistant job a good fit for you?


A nursery assistant job can be a good fit for you if you’re passionate about working with young children and want a taste of what it’s like working in early childhood education. It can be a stepping stone into a long and successful career in early years education.


To determine whether you would be well suited for a nursery assistant role, here are some key skills required for the role:


  • Communication and listening: Clear communication with both children and adults is essential. It is also important to be an attentive listener. 
  • Patience: The ability to remain calm under pressure is vital as a nursery assistant as children can sometimes display challenging behaviours.
  • Empathy: Recognising and responding to children’s’ unique needs is important. Nursery assistants need to be sensitive and understanding. 
  • Teamwork: Collaborating with nursery staff and other professionals to create a cohesive and supportive team environment is important.
  • Flexibility: Nursery assistants must be adaptable as each day brings new challenges and opportunities. They should be open to change. 
  • Organisational skills: Managing multiple tasks efficiently, including assisting with daily routines, educational activities, and record-keeping. 

Required qualifications and education


There are many routes you can take towards becoming a nursery assistant. It can be beneficial to have taken a college course or gained a Level 2 Certificate in Childcare and Education or a Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care. After completing their formal education, many individuals will complete either an intermediate or an advanced apprenticeship as an early years practitioner. Candidates should have a good standard of education, often with GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and Math.


If you do not have any formal schooling or qualifications, some employers may require applicants to have a wide range of previous work experience. For example, applicants may have participated in volunteering at a local school or nursery or worked as a nursery assistant where they learned on the job and obtained the necessary child-caring skills for the role.


To be considered for a nursery assistant role, applicants will have to pass an enhanced background check. Training is often provided on the job, covering areas such as health and safety, child protection, and specific nursery procedures.

Experience requirements


Most nursery assistants will have some practical experience in settings involving childcare or education. Some will have experience from previous jobs, and some might have gained experience through volunteering in nurseries, assisting in community programs, or engaging in childcare-related activities. These all provide valuable insights into the dynamics of working with children.


If the job is advertised as an entry-level position, candidates should still have an understanding of how to care for young children. It can be beneficial to have previous experience caring for children with physical or learning disabilities. For some nurseries, a paediatric first-aid certificate can also be useful but is not always essential.

Salary expectations


Nursery assistant salaries vary based on factors such as location, experience, and the employer. On average, entry-level nursery assistants can expect to earn around £16,000 to £17,000 per annum.


With experience and additional responsibilities, salaries can progress, reaching upwards of £21,000. Specific roles or positions in high-demand areas may command higher salaries.


If you are working with an agency, you will get paid per hour. On average, nursery assistants will get paid around £10.66 per hour.

Where can a nursery assistant job take you?


A nursery assistant role serves as a stepping stone to various exciting opportunities within the field of early childhood education:


  • Specialisations: Some nursery assistants choose to specialise in areas such as special educational needs (SEN) support, language development, or behaviour management. 
  • Further education: Pursuing additional qualifications or courses in childcare and education can open doors to roles with increased responsibilities like a nursery nurse or nursery practitioner. 
  • Room leader or supervisor roles: With experience, nursery assistants may progress to roles overseeing specific age groups or managing entire nursery rooms. 
  • Early years teacher training: A nursery assistant role can provide a foundation for those interested in pursuing further education to become an early years teacher. 
  • Educational consultancy: Some experienced nursery assistants transition into roles that involve providing advice and support to educators and institutions. 

Nursery assistants plays an important role in the formative years of a child’s education. They ensure that children are safe, healthy and in an environment that will nurture and stimulate their learning.


Taking on a role as a nursery assistant can be exciting as two days are never the same and it can be the first step to a successful career in childcare and education.


If you’re looking for a nursery job, Affinity Workforce have a wide range of roles to suit your skills and preferences. Get in touch with our nursery team today by calling 0333 188 5710 or view our latest nursery roles.


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