The new outfit was created by Somerset designer Lauren Cope and has overhauled both the formal and practical uniforms that the students wear every day throughout their three-year early years development and learning degree programme.
The new formal uniform now includes a long brown woollen coat and a 1950s-style dress, while retaining the original Norland white or brown gloves, brown lace-up shoes and hat.
Students took part in a photo shoot in Bath, the home of Norland College for the past ten years, to show off the new design.
Emily Ward, who founded Norland College in 1892, brought the production of uniform in-house so she could keep it updated regularly. The Norland uniform began life as grey and pink, and was later made blue to distinguish Norlanders from hospital ward maids. In 1910 the cloak was changed to brown and during the war the rest of the uniform followed suit as the blue material became unavailable.
The blue colour has now been revived in the practical uniform that students wear for placements and classes such as cooking, sewing and self-defence. The uniform, which used to be brown and cream, now consists of navy trousers and a blue polo shirt.
Despite the early variety in Norland uniforms, there has been no major overhaul since the 1930s.
Principal of Norland College Liz Hunt said that the changes she has seen in the early years in the four years since she joined the college meant she felt it was time for a change.
‘The status of the early years has gone right up. The college has entered the degree market now and we offer a three-year full-time course rather than two years full-time and two years part-time. We’ve also had a major refurbishment of the building to bring it in line with the modern day. So we just felt like the uniform needed a total facelift too, because it was looking very dated, but without losing the strong brand we have.’
After running a focus group with the students, all of whom expressed a wish to retain a uniform rather than wear their own clothes to college, Ms Hunt set about planning a new outfit for the 21st century.
‘We’ve never intended the uniforms to be a fashion item – they’re supposed to be practical – but we wanted to tweak them to make sure they fitted most sizes comfortably and to give them a retro, vintage look while making them even more professional-looking, and of course keeping the iconic Norland hat, ' she said.
'They’re instantly recognisable and portray the image that we are professionals, but also that we are most interested in parents and children, not what we look like. We are totally focused on the child and that’s what clients want to see.
‘Some people might think it looks old-fashioned but we think it’s just lovely. We’re phasing out the old uniform year by year and the second year students are already jealous that they’re not in the new outfit yet.’