Congratulations to the winners of the Nursery World Awards 2021!

Online and Social Media Award

Winner: Kids Planet

Kids Planet’s brand new, mobile optimised website is designed for ease of use, and includes everything a parent needs to know about the nurseries.

The website features a new and easy to navigate nursery finder tool, high quality images and professionally recorded videos. Clickable links to sign up for a prospectus and make an online application ensure information can be quickly found by often time-poor parents.Each setting has its own page giving details about the nursery, as well as latest news and events.

A brand-new bimonthly podcast is promoted across social media platforms. As demographics change, the group plans to invest in TikTok and Snapchat as a way of reaching a younger audience.

Highly commended: Bright Minds Daycare
Its homepage features a visually appealing, vibrant and heartfelt video of all four settings to showcase its ‘home-from-home’ environments.


Little Angels Childcare Group
Pebbles Childcare
Small Steps Big Changes

Community Support

Winner: More2Nurseries

From its conception, More2Nurseries has always put its community first, offering additional support to families through its More2parents programme and More2membership discount scheme.

Profit has been invested in redesigning the local Forum Community Centre’s gardens, helping the mental and physical health and well-being of many members of the community.

During the pandemic, More2 focused its support on the most vulnerable; those who were without essentials or suffering from mental health problems or abuse, as well as key workers and their families. More2 joined forces with a Community Centre and its food outreach programme to provide more than 150 meals per week.

Highly commended: Rosebuds Pre-School
For a wide range of initiatives including developing its food and essentials distribution project, and its Summer of Play scheme


Bright Horizons Timperley Day Nursery and Pre-School
Traquinas Childcare

Health and Well-Being Award

Winner: Meadow Lane Nursery

This Reggio Emilia, nature-inspired setting is based on a farm, where staff have created a happy and warm environment for all. A café and kitchen garden full of home-grown food make the setting wholesome and homely. Children spend most of their day exploring the outdoor learning environments through hands-on experiences.
If families have had long periods away from nursery during the pandemic, they receive ‘safe and well logs’ to fill in to help staff understand what support they can provide on the child’s return.

‘Staff Star Moments’ are awarded to members of staff who have gone above and beyond and there is a staff well-being station stocked with great resources.

Highly commended: Kindred Healthy Steps initiative
For its Healthy Steps initiative launched to look after the well-being of all staff and children at a difficult time for everyone, training 19 Physical Activity and Nutrition Co-ordinators (PANCos) and 20 mental health first aiders (MHFA)

Supporting Physical Development in Early Childhood - Open University 

Enabling Environments Award

Winner: Rainbow Nursery

Rainbow Nursery launched a complete overhaul of its environment during the pandemic.

Starting in the toddler room, managers removed the traditional school tables and chairs, replacing them with coffee tables and log stools.

The Grade 2 listed building has come alive as changes have been implemented, with beautiful new resources such as tea services, ornaments and items of awe and wonder for the children to explore. Staff and parents have relished the opportunity to find exciting new resources, searching charity shops, boot sales and the depths of their own homes.

Highly commended: Stables Daycare
Starting life in 2004 as two derelict buildings, Stables Daycare has become a shining example of a healthy, natural environment for children complete with Mongolian yurt.

Kids Planet Stretton
Toddletown Day Nursery
Watermead Day Nursery 

Working with Babies and Toddlers

Winner: Hale Day Nursery

Hale’s baby and toddler rooms improve outcomes for children by upholding all the key themes of the EYFS. Staff increase children's cultural capital through rich and varied activities and experiences. The approach to learning is tailored to each individual child and values their interests and opinions. The focus on the Prime Areas of Learning ensures that babies and toddlers are given time to lay the foundations of learning which will propel them through the rest of their lives.

Parents are included in every facet of nursery life, and staff work in a supportive environment that values their contribution and celebrates their achievements.

Inclusive Practice Award

Winner: Footprints Learning for Life

Based in one of the of most deprived areas of the UK, Footprints believes firmly in the individual child, and that one size does not fit all. Children have a wide range of needs and abilities and each one has a keyworker who knows the child completely and understands how to successfully develop their unique skill set, enhancing their learning with effective cultural capital to enable them to thrive.

The staff team, aged from 17 to 74, is as diverse as the children, and some have additional needs which are incorporated into working practices.

Footprints provides all its children with adventure and opportunity and believes everyone can flourish in their own way.

Kids Planet Beamont
Tiny Tree Day Nursery

Team Development Award

Winner: Sunbeams Day Nursery

When COVID hit, Sunbeams had to rethink how it recruited, trained and developed its teams to ensure that the quality, knowledge and learning of staff across sites was not affected, that the nursery continued to recruit and retain staff in a COVID-secure manner, that career development was protected, and that there was minimal impact on children's learning.

A new e-learning platform was created. The nursery identified and prepared detailed content and an online platform that was accessible and easy to use, with more than 60 courses ranging from in-house training videos and PowerPoints to password-protected YouTube videos and hand-outs.

Highly commended: Two high commendations
Evergreen Early Years – during the pandemic, the nursery developed and enhanced its ethos, giving staff more autonomy and involvement.
N Family Club’s N Academy provides an extensive leadership programme, foundation awards, and CPD based on the group’s bespoke curriculum and pedagogy.

Honey Pot Nursery Group
Sunflower Children's Centre

Eco-Friendly Early Years Award

Winner: Meadow Lane Children’s Nursery

A real feeling of immersing the children in nature, the earth and environment as a way of life, developing caring and responsible attitudes towards people and the planet’ said one judge.
Both indoor and outdoor environments are designed to be as natural and environmentally friendly as possible. An air source heat pump and energy efficient lights are set up in the main building, with natural, open-ended materials throughout. Man-made resources are usually reused or recycled.

The setting’s Forest School has been grown from scratch, and a geodesic dome acts as an investigation centre for children to explore the natural world even further.

Highly commended: Two high commendations
Jayne’s Nursery has become one of the first settings in the country to be awarded the OMEP-UK Bronze Award for Sustainable Education.
London Early Years Foundation has reviewed its carbon emissions and developed the 'Green LEYF' approach, which impacts 42 nurseries across 12 boroughs.

Working With Parents

Winner: More2Nurseries

Aware of the number of parents who have moved away from family and friends to work in the capital, this group launched its More2parents programme to provide a support channel.

More2parents partners with experts and local businesses who run programmes throughout the year for families, from first aid courses to career coaching, and pre-natal counselling to financial advice. It also runs a large networking support group and offers a work hub.

During lockdown, More2 took on an additional six key worker families from other settings and provided live lessons on Zoom for isolating parents.

Early Start Nutrition
The Education People
Small Steps Big Changes

Professional Book of the Year

Winner: Putting Storytelling at the Heart of Early Childhood Practice by Tina Bruce, Lynn McNair, Jane Whinnett (editors), Routledge

Putting Storytelling at the Heart of Early Childhood Practice is an engaging and practical book that highlights the essential nature of storytelling in all walks of life and how best to cultivate this in the early years. The authors use a Froebelian approach to explore the role of storytelling, and this inspiring and innovative book supports practitioners to develop high quality experiences for children.

Highly commended: Looking for Learning: Maths Through Play by Laura England, Bloomsbury Education
This publication is ideal for all early years professionals searching for accessible ideas for incorporating mathematical learning into children's favourite activities.

Growing Together: 50 inspiring ideas for intergenerational learning by Lorraine George, Yellow Door
Play is the Way: child development, early years and the future of Scottish education by Sue Palmer, Postcards from Scotland
The A to Z of Early Years by June O’Sullivan, Sage Publications
Working with the Revised Early Years Foundation Stage: Principles into Practice by Julian Grenier

Newcomer of the Year

Winner: Carys Jones, Nina’s Nursery

Nothing is ever too much for Carys, who is currently undertaking her Level 2 Childcare Apprenticeship. Recently, she took on her first group of three key children, and has responded superbly - her knowledge of every child in her care is impeccable. Carys is a part-time carer for her mother, yet every day she comes into the nursery with a huge smile on her face, ready to care for the children who all adore her. She has a thirst for learning and aspires to be the best practitioner she can be.

Aliysha Hopwood, SEND to Learn

Nursery Practitioner of the Year

Winner: Sarah Dickinson, SEND to Learn

Sarah’s enthusiasm and passion for her work means there is no role in nursery life she is not happy to fulfil. She has worked extensively on developing the curriculum to suit all children, and has helped staff adapt their training to suit individual children’s needs.

As the nursery’s health advocate, she has supported both staff and children with well-being and mental health, she has recently become the setting’s domestic violence champion and has introduced a therapy dog to the setting. She can also regularly be found taking on the role of nursery ‘handyman’!

Highly commended: Highly commended – Deana Frost, Village Nursery Group
Known as 'Tigger', Deana is always full of energy and bounces around the setting spreading excitement and motivation to children, staff and parents alike.

Charlotte Crenell, Tiddlywinks
Emma Hardman, Quays Pre-School, Village Nursery Group

Nanny of the Year

Winner: Georgia Harris

A live-in nanny based in London, Georgia often works more than 12 hours a day to care for her three charges, aged between six and 12.

During all the Covid-19 lockdowns, Georgia sacrificed her trips home on her days off in order to avoid mixing households and to ensure she kept her employer’s family safe. This meant she sometimes went for months at a time without seeing her partner, friends or family.

During lockdown, Georgia’s employer became a lone parent, which was a difficult transition for the whole family, who relied on Georgia throughout this challenging time for her calm and stabilising influence.

Kelly Bowman
Amy Hensman

Childminder of the Year

Winner: Sally Harvey

Sally has been registered since 2009 and has achieved two Outstanding Ofsted inspections in that time. She studied for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education while childminding full-time and has completed enhanced SEN training for childminders.
Sally offers a homely, caring and nurturing environment, offering experiences that support physical development, creativity, problem solving, curiosity and massive levels of engagement. She is also a mentor to newly registered childminders, often keeping in touch with them long after the initial mentoring phase.

Highly commended: Catherine Fay
Catherine has been a dedicated, thoughtful and passionate childminder for over 15 years and prioritises places for children with special needs or who have English as a second language.

Julie Dixon

Nursery Manager of the Year

Winner: Olivia Young, Kidzrus

One of the youngest managers in the Kidzrus Group, Olivia is innovative, highly driven and committed to her role. She is forward-thinking and constantly shares ideas with her team to improve their daily routine and the learning experiences of the children in her care.
Olivia gave up her spare time last Christmas to support the nursery’s food bank project and developed a post-lockdown action plan to help parents return to employment, education or training after the pandemic. In an extremely tough year, Olivia has continued to amaze with her passion, ambition and drive.

Highly commended: Karen James, Kiddlywinks
Karen encourages her whole team to reach their full potential on a personal and professional level.

Sallyann Frisby, Shooting Stars Pre-school
Lucy Pottinger, Grass Roots

Nursery Operations / Area Manager of the Year

Winner: Carly Wray, Seahorse Nursery

In 2021, Carly was instrumental in the successful opening of the group’s third setting, efficiently organising the opening alongside her many responsibilities as manager of the existing setting in the area. She has become the face of Seahorse Nursery. Throughout the pandemic she maintained close contact with the local retirement home, library, church, synagogue, temple and mosque, as well as other local businesses, helping children understand the value of community.
Carly has a passion for safeguarding, and has ensured that all Seahorse nurseries make this a priority by implementing a 'Safeguarding Hub', which she leads.

Lauren Mankelow, Choochoos Day Nursery

Trainer of the Year

Winner: Joint Winners - Alison Featherbe and Ruth Swailes

Alison Featherbe
Alison draws on her enormous wealth of expertise and understanding to inspire all those she works with to develop their own skillsets to deliver innovative early years care and education. Her passion and dedication are not only evident through her incredible training and services, but also in her tireless efforts to arrange affordable, accessible and relevant training days, ensuring that even settings with the tightest budgets can access high-quality CPD.
Alison never stops learning, growing and adapting her services and has recently qualified as a Schema Play trainer.

Ruth Swailes
Ruth is a champion of others and uses her training and social media accounts not only to share best practice, but to acknowledge the strengths and achievements of others. She showcases the work of schools, settings, researchers and other trainers and is a 'go to' colleague for advice and guidance on all things early years.

During the pandemic, Ruth built a bank of professional resources for colleagues in schools and settings, curating much-needed support and making it available for all practitioners free online. ‘Ruth is an inspirational advocate for the early years sector,’ says one colleague.

Kelly Cave, Strode College
Kate Wake, National Extension College

Covid-19 Hero Award

Winner: Ashley Bereznyckyj

Ashley's role was to ensure the setting remained open during lockdowns, liaise with the local authority to provide childcare places for keyworkers all over Peterborough, and adapt that provision to be COVID-secure from day one of lockdown. The task was enormous, but Ashley was determined to show that Little Stars was the best place for these children. She set a standard of excellence, care and commitment, creating a safe haven for families in a world in chaos.

Highly commended: Karen James and Team Kiddlywinks - planning meticulously and ready for anything, Karen ensured her team was prepared for working through a pandemic.

Mandy Lacey - when a set of parents who were working in intensive care were struggling, she sent them home with dinner each night.

Hayley McCann – family inclusion co-ordinator Hayley has worked closely with more than 63 families to support their wellbeing.

Kirsty Bradburne, Village Nursery Group
Amy Delooze, Village Nursery Group
Natalia dias Pinto Pena, Seahorse Nursery
Kilsby Pre-School
Kimberley Munro, Blue Grass Purple Cow Nursery

Outstanding Contribution

Winner: Julie Lister

During her 26-year career at Portland Nurseries, Julie has touched the lives of thousands of children and their families. In her 20 years as nursery manager, her affable nature, clear insight and guiding vision has garnered the respect and admiration of staff, children, families and the local community.

Her role has recently been expanded to include responsibility for three further settings as senior manager, supporting more than 90 staff and 600 families each year.

There can be very few practitioners who have gone about their roles so selflessly and enthusiastically for so long.

Highly commended: Nina Stones
Nina’s eight settings have become inclusive, diverse, homely places to be for staff, children and parents under her leadership.

Alison O’Connor-Limb, Village Nursery Group

Childminding Business of the Year

Winner: Playhood

Playhood is a unique Montessori home-based setting with an adjacent co-working space for parents, run by two co-minders, Laura Perfetti and Karen Partridge.

Launched in the height of the pandemic in June 2020 in a period of almost unprecedented parental stress, anxiety and burnout, the setting offers the co-location of work and childcare to enable daily connection between children, parents and educators.

Playhood says it is ‘a petri dish for a post-pandemic childminding model; a response to changes demanded by parents and led by social and environmental drivers’.

Julie & Jo's Childcare 
Catherine and Laurence Childminding

Early Years in School Award

Winner: Manor Wood Primary School

The approach at Manor Wood Primary is inspired by the pre-schools of Reggio Emilia and Scandinavian Forest Schools. The fundamental belief, central to all the work it does, is that children are competent, collaborative, powerful individuals who should be given the time and space to conduct their own investigations and research.

The Foundation Unit is a place full of curiosity and creativity. Children feel valued and cared for by educators who wholeheartedly believe in their potential and capabilities. Practitioners are thoughtful, reflective, and work extremely effectively as a team.

Gateways School
Marlborough Primary School

Pre-School of the Year

Winner: The Greenhouse Multi-Cultural Play and Arts Project

Around 95 per cent of children at Outstanding-rated charity organisation the Greenhouse Project have English as an Additional Language. As a result, the project focuses heavily on engaging parents to help support the needs of the whole family, and aims to provide quality early education to children from the community by prioritising ‘staff over stuff’. By helping children and families to feel confident being themselves and expressing their thoughts and choices, Greenhouse sets them up to face any of life’s challenges with emotional intelligence and resilience.

Bury Grammar School
Busy Bees Ledbury
Findon Valley Free Church Pre-School
Kilsby Pre-School

Nursery Group of the Year

Winner: Kids Planet

Top in the Nursery Chains 2021 quality table, the Kids Planet group, which offers more than10,000  places across 75 settings, puts children’s interests at the heart of all its work.
The group’s dedicated SEND team is passionate about ensuring all children have the best start in life.

And working in partnership with parents is crucial for learning and development at the group.
Succession plans and training pathways are embedded as part of every team member's journey, and the group delivers a wide range of training courses through its internal Training Academy.

Kids Planet plans to expand to more than 200 nursery settings by 2026.

Highly commended: Kindred Nurseries
At Kindred Nurseries, a team ethos and the passion and determination among staff are what makes the group special.


Cherubs Nurseries
N Family Club
Spring by Action for Children
Sunbeams Day Nursery

Nursery of the Year

Winner: Kiddlywinks Pre-School Centre and Day Nursery

‘Kiddlywinks is a calm place of joy and wonder where children’s voices are welcomed and listened to,’ said our judges. At Kiddlywinks, all processes begin by considering the unique child, and the nursery has become the first Curiosity Approach-accredited setting in Cumbria.
Children are encouraged to express their unique learning styles and interests and display their own characters. Babies are respected and asked permission before any care routines are delivered. Parent partnership is of the utmost importance at the setting, and staff have teamed up with local GPs to offer free childcare to encourage attendance at smear tests, vaccination appointments and dental check-ups.

Highly commended: Little Stars Day Nursery
For 18 years, Little Stars has provided its community with a place to meet, share experiences, and find refuge and support when needed.

Watermead Day Nursery

Lifetime Achievement

Winner: Laura Henry-Allain

A global influencer, Laura has worked in and with many countries and taken part in several global education conferences. Always bringing and generously sharing her expertise, knowledge, and passion for improving young children’s development and joy of life.

If you meet or work with Laura you never forget her kindness, generosity of spirit, wisdom, insights, depth of knowledge, infectious fun and joy and her willingness to serve. Laura still has practitioners she’s trained and supported contact her and share key learning and specific phrases she used which had a huge impact on them personally and in their work. Families too who Laura touched as a key person continue to pass onto her the very real changes her child and heart centred approach made then and now.

Working directly in and with early years settings for years, Laura has always shared her clarity of vision, accumulated knowledge from her direct work and studies, her compassion for the role of the practitioners, and her strong desire to see everyone excel for the benefits of the children, but also for the families and practitioners too.