Students, apprentices & volunteersHave you thought about a career or gaining some experience in early years?


‘Choochoos is a very close, family environment. I loved working in the team’, (Student, April 2019).

Would you like to complete your student, volunteer or apprenticeship placement with us?

Choochoos welcomes volunteers, apprentices and students, to experience our outstanding nurseries. Becoming a student, volunteer or apprentice is a great way to have an introduction into childcare and the early years sector.

We have a very flexible and accommodating approach, working with our students/volunteers to enable getting the most out of a placement with us. We take into consideration the age of the group and aims and objectives of the placement with us. Choochoos have a designated Student/Volunteer Advocate who organises placements and works closely with our students and volunteers throughout their time with us making sure they stay on track and get the most from their time here.

What is the difference?

Volunteering – Choochoos welcome all volunteers for short or long term placements. Volunteering is unpaid work, however you will be given a full induction, have responsibilities and treated as one of our team.

Students – Choochoos considers students on short or long term placements, unpaid. Usually training through school, college or a provider and coming to us for the experience. Students are interviewed for suitability and given a full induction before a placement begins.

Apprenticeships – Choochoos welcomes apprentices of any age for long-term, paid training. We offer an amazing opportunity for the right person with a competitive apprenticeship salary. The majority of our apprentices are offered a full time vacancy after they successfully complete their course and have the opportunity to further their training. Alongside this Choochoos offer many additional incentives and perks as an apprentice employee.

What can you expect from us as a volunteer or student?

  • Induction on starting.
  • Targets and training support, reviewed regularly.
  • Regular meetings to monitor your placement.
  • Up to date training and further courses.
  • Support and a friendly working environment.
  • Possible recruitment opportunities in the future.
  • Close working with your training provider.
  • Experience of our outstanding nurseries, gaining knowledge of our outstanding practices and expectations.
  • Uniform and a badge.

What do we expect from you as a student, volunteer or an apprentice?

  • To adhere and follow our policies and procedures.
  • To ensure you follow confidentiality.
  • Be trustworthy, reliable, honest, organised and a good timekeeper.
  • To get the most out of your placement for yourself and Choochoos.
  • To use initiative, ask questions and be eager to learn and develop during your placement.
  • Share your ideas and feedback.
  • Be a good role model for the children in our care.

What can you expect from us as an apprentice or an employee in the future?

  • Competitive salary above the apprenticeship current hourly rate.
  • Induction on starting.
  • A yearly training plan and targets.
  • Fantastic training and course opportunities.
  • Paid holiday.
  • Promotion opportunities.
  • Extra holiday for long-serving employees.
  • Employee of the term scheme.
  • Opportunity to work with an outstanding team.
  • Rewarding experiences working with our children, families and practitioners.
  • Uniform.

The placement

When a student or volunteer begins their placement with Choochoos we are aware of the feelings incurred coming into an unknown environment. Students/volunteers will be joining a very happy and positive team committed to the children in their care. Our children are always our priority and having outstanding teamwork that has resulted in Choochoos being a calm, relaxed and enjoyable place to experience. It is important to work together to achieve maximum learning during your time at Choochoos.

How to become a student, volunteer or apprentice?

Before your placement starts:

  • Make an enquiry – Contact our Choochoos manager via telephone, email, letter or in person. Provide a covering letter including information about what you would like to do and why, include your current cv.
  • The manager/student advocate will then make contact to arrange a suitability interview. During this meeting clear expectations will be established and this gives the opportunity to ask any questions.
  • If successful Choochoos will contact you to offer you a place, a start date and information will be shared and planned for.
  • If enrolled on a course with a training provider, a letter of confirmation must be received by us from your tutor.
  • A DBS check and a character reference are required before starting.

When your placement starts at Choochoos:

  • An induction and tour will be provided, alongside completing relevant paperwork.
  • You will be required to follow our dress code, wear a badge and follow our policies and procedures, along with adhering to confidentiality.
  • You will be given a workbook, which your student advocate will complete with you regularly. This will include agreed learning targets and reflection of how and what you are going to achieve during your time at Choochoos.
  • You will be allocated a mentor, as support during your placement.

During your placement:

  • Meet regularly with our student/volunteer advocate/mentor to discuss progress and receive feedback.
  • Tell us with notice when your tutor or assessor needs to visit and ensure it fits with our diary and rota.
  • Choochoos will support you to complete any observations or tasks required by your training provider.

The key message, “A placement with us is not a soft option or a holiday from school/college. It is a practical work experience exercise”.

Click on this link to see our current employment vacancies, if we are not currently recruiting please feel free to send us your current CV. We will then contact you if a suitable vacancy in the future becomes available.

Come join our team and begin building your career in childcare.

Click on this link to see what it is like to be an employee at Choochoos.

Student testimonials

‘I first started at Choochoo’s Day Nursery five years ago, as an apprentice working within all three rooms in the Whitstable setting. I thoroughly enjoyed gaining experience with all age groups, ranging from 0-5 years old and getting used to the routines within the rooms, as well as getting to know all of the friendly staff. As I settled in I was given the support I needed to progress with my apprenticeship course, having visits from my tutor, doing work at home and also getting the support from team members and managers at work. As I gained confidence within the setting I was then asked if I wanted to be a permanent staff member within the baby room, which I felt very excited about and accepted. From this I then got given my own small group of key children, which meant I could build relationships with the children and their families. I could get experience with writing observations and contributing to the children’s learning journeys. I had a wonderful journey spent as a nursery practitioner in the baby room where I worked for over four years and completed my level 2 childcare qualification and then my level 3. I then put myself forward for the role of the butterfly room leader which is my current role and I find it a new and exciting challenge. I look forward to the rest of my journey working at Choochoos in Whitstable’, (Naomi, student, March 2019).


‘I started at Choochoos as a student, whilst studying for my level 2 in childcare at college. Whilst on my placement I was offered to become supply staff, working with flexible hours, whilst still studying. Once I had completed my course at college in 2010, I was asked to become a full time early years practitioner and a key person. Choochoos then organised for me to complete my level 3 in childcare, which I could do in my spare time at home. This allowed me to work, while gaining more experience and having a hands on approach’, (Jade, student, May 2019).


‘I started at Choochoos in September 2018 and have been in all three rooms, babychoos, caterpillars and the butterflies. All of the staff have been welcoming and have helped me. I am currently in the caterpillar room and learning things like routines and procedures. I am also becoming more confident in leading the children in singing’, (Student, June 2019).


‘I felt I could ask questions to the room leader and practitioners, they were very approachable. The experience made me really think about what I want to do when I’m older’, (Student, June 2019).