By Chloe Aeberhardt.
Monty is screaming his little heart out. Charlotte has been talking, singing, cradling, fondling his tommy. He’s had his bottle. He did his burp. Charlotte sighs : she’ll have to change him again. When she does, the baby spills out a cry of joy. “That’s what you were meant to do”, comments Elizabeth Kerry, the practical skills co-ordinator, as she watches her apprentice putting a reusable nappy on the plastic doll’s bum. A week out of two, Norland students look after children in hospitals or nurseries. The rest of the time, they stay at the college where they attend lectures on education, child health as well as practical skills : cooking, sewing and how to make a reality doll happy.
Founded in London in the late XIXth century, Norland College, now in Bath, has been considered for decades as the world elite school for nannies. Even though most clients are unknown busy doctors, lawyers and businessmen from England, it is said celebrities as Mick Jagger, Roger Federer and members of the Royal family (the Duchess of York, Princess Anne) recruited “Norlanders. Kate and William could very well be the next. “That would be the best publicity”, admits the director Liz Hunt, who won’t say more.
To enter Norland, one has to be a British straight-A student, and to have parents wealthy enough to spend 27000£ on a 2-year training. Once inside, disciplin is the key. The girls have to wear a dreadfully old-fashioned uniform made of a long brownish dress with a flat knot, a pocket watch on the chest and, if they go out, white gloves and a Mary Poppins hat. When they get their degree, the school agency arranges interviews until each one of them finds the family she will stay with for the next months or years, depending on the ages of the children (from birth to 8). In residence, a nanny can expect to earn from 23000£ up to 46500£. That explains how they put on with the hard work – and the look of an old lady for two years.