: Student nannies: a new way to access flexible childcare
Posted on 21.03.2017

Childcare is, as any parent will tell you, a thorny issue.

Student Nanny Chloe Wells, 21, geography student, enjoying an after-school craft session with Minnie Pinniger, 7 and Monty Pinniger, 4.

Nannies are expensive. Childminders have less flexibility. An au pair means giving up your privacy.

One parent who felt that the childcare options were sorely lacking was Tracey Blake, founder of new childcare initiative Student Nannies.
As you could probably guess, Student Nannies matches up people who are studying with people who need childcare, meaning that the student earns good money in job that fits with their studies and the parents get someone smart, young and flexible to take care of the kids. chatted to Tracey Blake about the idea, and who it works for. She told us:
‘As a working parent, finding childcare that fits in around school and your hours is one of the biggest challenges. We had the idea when we had a really brilliant art student looking after our two children (Minnie, 7, and Monty, 4) – every week they’d create an amazing work of art together, she was far more creative and better at craft than me! It worked so well that when she left us after a year we wanted to hire another student, but we didn’t know how. So we built our own website!’

As well as having the option to chose a nanny based on their academic discipline, Student Nannies also offers both male and female childcare. Tracey told us:
‘Yes, male students are of course very welcome. ‘Mannies’ are becoming much more common now and we feel that male Student Nannies could be a great asset for families, especially those with boys who want to play football non-stop, and for single mums who want positive male role models for their children.’

Of course leaving your children with someone who isn’t you is a nerve-wracking experience, but Tracey explains that they’ve done everything in their power to make it less scary.
‘Obviously, safety is paramount,’ Tracey told us. ‘We recommend that parents ask to see their Student Nanny’s ID and for two references, and we also offer a DBS checking service, so if students consent parents can get them checked for peace of mind.

‘We are finding that many of the students who are interested in babysitting have lots of experience and many of them already have DBS certificates from working with and mentoring children in things like gymnastics clubs, swimming lessons or Summer camps. Obviously we also suggest that parents meet the potential nannies a few times and interview them to make sure they’re a good fit with their family before they take them on.

‘The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).’
The system has some similarities to au pairing, which matches non-British young people who want to live in London and learn further English with families. I asked Tracey about the advantages that Student Nannies has over au pair agencies.

She told us:
‘I just feel that not many people have a big enough house for a live-in au pair – we certainly don’t – and agency fees to find an au pair are extortionate. So when you just want a few hours of extra help a week after school, a local student makes for smart company for your kids.

‘We love that parents can find students studying subjects that their child loves or needs extra help with. If parents struggle with their child’s maths homework, they can get a maths scholar who’ll find it easy, we have one parent whose partner is French so she found a French student to help support their children’s bilingualism, or if your child loves drama or art you can find students studying those subjects.’
While there’s no reason to think that a student nanny would be any smarter than a non-student nanny, being able to find a nanny who shares your child’s interests sounds pretty great.
Most of all, it’s so important to see parents being offered a wider variety of options when it comes to childcare.
To find out more about Student Nannies, visit

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