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The modern-day Mary Poppins

The modern-day governess

“You must be kind, you must be witty, very sweet and fairly pretty.”

While the list of requirements may have changed since Mary Poppins’ era, the modern-day governess is still very much in demand.

For many families across the world governesses are the perfect way to educate their children. Discrete, highly-intelligent and able to travel, they are the ideal solution for families looking for the very best education for their child but without the ties that traditional schooling can bring.

Unlike nannies, who look after all aspects of a child’s wellbeing, governesses are not usually involved in care-giving tasks. They specialise in the educational development of children, attending to their academic needs and focusing on their intellectual development.

Families can request governesses that are tailored to their child’s specific needs. For example, if their son or daughter excels in a certain subject a family can request a governess that has specialist qualifications in these areas and can teach it at a much higher level than an ordinary school teacher.

Often this may be in music or languages but the range of subjects requested by families is increasing all the time.

Governesses can also be a helpful solution for children who have Special Educational Needs, ensuring they get an education tailored specifically to their abilities.

“Take us on outings, give us treats. Sing songs, bring sweets.”

 While the sweets and treats elements of Jane and Michael Banks’ demands are questionable – there are some elements of their infamous letter that are still pertinent today.

Governesses will often be responsible for arranging the child’s leisure or sporting activities, or taking them on educational visits to places like museums and galleries. A passion for sport is often seen as a bonus by many families as it enables the governess to accompany the children during activities like swimming and skiing.

Being a governess will usually involve an element of international travel, so candidates need to be happy with immersing themselves in new countries and cultures, and helping their charges to do the same.

“Close your mouth Michael. We are not a codfish.”

Another element of a governess’ activities which has changed little since Mary Poppins’ first arrived at the Banks’ household is the requirement for them to teach etiquette, and promote good manners and behaviour. A cut-glass British accent like Julie Andrews’ is also an advantage, as many international families like their children to learn the Queen’s English, free from any accent.

One thing is for certain – today’s modern governesses cannot simply blow in with the wind, and will be subject to much more rigorous checking than Mary Poppins.

All the governesses registered with us have a teaching background or higher childcare education, and a minimum of three years’ professional childcare or teaching experience.

For more information on hiring a governess see The role of Governess or contact us to receive a call from one of our consultants who can talk to you about your requirements.

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