Emily is Falkirk's very own Norland-trained Mary Poppins
When Emily Fyffe was told to give up on her dream to train as a nanny at the world-famous Norland College it only made her more determined to succeed.
Her ambition was to wear the distinctive uniform, pass the exams to qualify as a Norland nanny and she wasn’t prepared to let anything stand in her way.
The former Braes High pupil had already achieved far more than some medical experts thought she ever would having being diagnosed with dyspraxia, a condition which affects coordination, dyslexia which is a learning difficulty which causes problems with reading, writing and spelling, and dyscalculia which brings similar problems with numbers.
Her mum Lynne Rodger remembers being told when Emily was very young that she might never read or write.
She is now “bursting with pride” at her only daughter’s achievements.
For Emily, now 22, is preparing to graduate with a BA (Hons) degree in Early Years Development and Learning alongside the unique diploma, which allows her to become a Norland nanny.
Having grown up in a household filled with youngsters of all ages thanks to her mum’s role as a childminder, Emily knew that looking after children was something she wanted to do. However, how to achieve that aim was uncertain until her uncle, who at the time lived in Bath, Somerset which is home to the prestigious Norland College, suggested that this might be the place for her to study.
After failing her Higher prelims, some teachers at Braes High told her to forget about such an ambition.
"But others were more supportive,” said proud mum Lynne, “particularly support for learning teacher Miss White. She took Emily aside and said that she may have to achieve her goals the long way round but not to give up.
"This was a tremendous boost to her confidence.
"She had a few sessions with a tutor, sat her Highers and achieved all B grades.”
However, this was still not enough to meet the entry requirements for Norland which was looking for A Levels or Advanced Highers so Emily enrolled in an HNC in childcare at Edinburgh College and when she passed this course was accepted into the private university.
She admits that when she heard that she was going to Norland she phoned her mum and gran to tell them the good news before telling her best friend. “I kept it together talking to my family but when I phoned my friend I burst into tears because she knew just how much I wanted to do it and what a challenge it had been to get to this stage.”
With the qualifications under her belt, the Braes teenager still had to find the finance to pay for the three-year course – a hefty £15,000 annually.
Emily said: “It’s been really hard. I sat down with my family and worked out how we could do it. There’s not just the fees, but the cost of the uniform and then living in Bath. I’m lucky enough to have a bursary towards it but there’s been a lot of sacrifices and I work part-time.”
As her three years of study come to an end and she prepares for her probation year placement Emily reflected on what she describes as a “fantastic experience”.
"It’s been amazing. Every week is different and we’ve had an opportunity to try and learn so many great things. We’ve already had some really interesting placements during our degree work and I’m really looking forward to the next stage.
"You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to be and the great thing about Norland is because it is a private university everyone is here because they love working with children.”
Founded in 1892, Norland has been at the forefront of childcare for almost 130 years.
It continues to move with the times and while classes are held in traditional subjects including psychology, child health, philosophy, social sciences, literature and education, there are modules in everything from sewing to cyber security, food nutrition to self defence.
Emily admitted that she loves the history of the establishment, wearing the uniform with pride.
"We probably have our formal uniform on two days a week which includes the dress, hat and gloves and that’s for attending lectures. For other sessions we wear our practical uniform of polo shirt, jumper and trousers.
"One of my friends at another university said she went to a lecture in her pyjamas but we certainly don’t do that here. I’m very proud of the uniform and think it’s cool that we have one.”
When she graduates and is working for a family the likelihood is that she will only wear the uniform on special occasions but says that will be her employers’ decision.
It’s a rule of Norland not to talk about who nannies are working for but it has been widely publicised that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge employed Norland trained nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo when Prince George was eight months old and she is still with them also looking after Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Emily added: “A lot of the probation placements are in London so it looks as though I will be there for the next year and then after that it could be anywhere – there is demand in New York, Italy just about everywhere. It really is a case that the world is my oyster which is quite surreal.
"And there cannot be many university courses where you are guaranteed a job at the end of the course.”
Due to her own challenges, Emily said that she is keen to work with children with special education needs as that’s where her passion lies, having already worked with the charity Plus in Stirling and a similar organisation in Bath.
"On my journey to become a Norland nanny people have believed in me and I know that if you never give up you can achieve your dreams.”