She worked in several state schools and nurseries. But all came under Lancashire county council which never gave her a permanent contract.
Instead Mrs Ward estimates she was employed under at least 13 different temporary deals, and gradually saw her hours reduced from 32-and-a-half to 20 a week.
Her final contract saw her supporting a Year 1 girl with special needs in a mainstream school. Halfway through the year it was decided the pupil should be moved to a special school and Mrs Ward, from Halton, near Lancaster, was told that, from the end of that week, she would no longer have a job.
Despite nearly two decades of service she was given no redundancy package and, unable to find more work, was forced to spend five months claiming unemployment benefit.
"This system creates dreadful job insecurity," she said. "You never know how long you are going to be in a job for so there is no chance of you getting a mortgage or anything like that. I feel extremely bitter. It is an appalling way to treat people. Nursery nurses were always the doormats of the education system and morale is now as low as it has ever been."