Public voting awards

The winner for all three awards will be determined by the number of parent votes, quality of parent comments, and your online submission. Please note only one parent vote per child will be accepted.

Encourage your parents to add a comment when voting explaining why they’ve voted, sharing specific examples of how you have helped their child. Parents/Carers must provide full names for their vote to count.

Nursery of the Year award

Three regional (North of England, Central England, South of England), two national (Scotland and Wales), one international nursery, and one overall winner are awarded. Encourage your parents or carers to vote for you and your nursery.

All Nursery of the Year finalists will be visited or interviewed by an early years adviser who will compile a report for the judging panel.

North of England (southern boundary) - South Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, and Lancashire
Central England (northern/southern boundary) – Norfolk, Suffolk, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Birmingham, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire, South Lincolnshire
South of England (northern boundary) - Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex.

International is open to any country outside of the UK.


1. Share a brief case study (200 words) of how your leadership has had a positive impact on children
2. Tell us how you drive quality improvement and your vision for the setting
3. From the example given above, how do you bring your staff and parents on this change management journey? How did you overcome any obstacles?
4. Give an example of how you support the professional development of your staff team?
5. What future short and long-term plans do you have to improve quality for children, parents, staff and how do you plan to measure success?
6. How do you build cooperative partnerships with parents to support children’s development? Share an example of a recent change you have made as a result of parent feedback
7. How do you, as a leader, receive feedback from the stakeholders in your provision? (Staff, parents, external professionals, school governors, parent committee etc.). Share specific example/s of feedback you have received and any actions you have taken as a result
8. How would you describe the unique selling point (USP) of your provision?
9. Why you should win Nursery of the Year?

About the provision:
• Type of provision – nursery, pre-school, forest school, childminder etc.?
• Number and age of children
• Number of staff. Percentage of staff qualified to L3. Percentage of staff qualified at graduate level
• Most recent inspection rating? (if applicable)
• Details of any quality improvement schemes such as Quality Counts, Millie’s Mark, Investors in people, Healthy Eating Awards etc.
Additional criteria / information to upload: Testimonies/photographic evidence


Practitioner of the Year award

Entries are open to anyone working in an early years setting whose typical environment is the nursery floor. This includes: Room Leader, Senior Nursery Nurse, Nursery Nurse, Nursery Assistant, Nursery Practitioner etc. Entries must be nominated by a manager or colleague and evidence will need to be provided to support the nomination.
This award is nominated by the nursery manager and voted for by parents. Tell us why you think the practitioner is outstanding, how have they made a difference and why they should win NDNA Practitioner of the Year.


1. Tell us about the practitioners outstanding achievements and why you think they should win the Practitioner of the Year award (tell us about how they go above their daily responsibilities to support children and families)
2. Describe the positive difference the practitioner has made within your setting for:
• Children
• Families
• Colleagues
Share their ‘wow’ moments and times when they have gone above and beyond and made a real difference/impact
3. Tell us about their commitment to engage in relevant continued professional development and any positive impact on outcomes for children this has had
4. How long has the practitioner been working in the early years sector and what are their future career aspirations?
5. Describe the practitioner’s main responsibilities and any areas of practice they lead on or support others with (this could be something the practitioner has taken on board themselves that is not part of their main job role)
6. List the practitioner’s qualifications and training

Additional criteria / information to upload
• Testimonies from colleagues/parents/other stakeholders

Healthy Nursery of the Year award

Early years providers play a critical role in creating the foundations of healthy lifestyles for children and families. Tell us all about how you support and develop; physical activity, access to the outdoors and nature, outdoor, healthy eating, nutrition and portion size, self-care, what you do to balance sedentary activities with physical activity, and how you work with parents to encourage healthy habits at home and in the community.


1. Tell us why you believe you should win the Healthy Nursery of the Year award
2. Share examples of your practice for supporting healthy lifestyles with children and families (and staff where applicable) in each of the following areas:
o Physical activity (examples of physical or movement-based activities - include examples for all the age groups you care for - how you monitor physical activity to ensure children meet the Chief medical officers recommended daily guidelines, monitoring of physical activities to ensure a balance of sedentary and physically active experiences, advice and support for families etc.)
o Outdoors experiences and access to nature (access to outdoor play, trips into the community or special places, experiences in nature, learning about the environment and wildlife etc. remember to include examples for all the age groups you care for)
o Healthy eating (include examples for all the age groups you care for - healthy snacks and meals, weaning support, activities you provide to teach children about healthy eating, staff as good role models, initiatives or healthy eating projects, parent cooking projects, sharing recipes etc.)
o Emotional well-being (examples of how you support children’s emotional literacy, developing secure attachments with key people, mindfulness, yoga or calming techniques you teach to children, opportunities to talk about feelings and emotions, how you support children’s relationships with one another, how you support children to resolve conflicts with their peers, etc.)
o Oral hygiene (activities you provide to support oral hygiene with children and for families, visits or trips to a local dentist, limiting sugary food and snacks, providing water to drink, etc.)

3. How do you support health, wellbeing, and physical activity where there may be barriers e.g. religion, disability, physical space, or other restrictions of your provision?
4. How do staff act as good role models for healthy lifestyles?
5. Tell us about any initiatives you take part in to support healthy practices e.g. supporting parents understanding of physical/sedentary activities

Additional criteria / information to upload

• Testimonies
• Photographic evidence
• Examples of recent summer menu, celebration event menu, religious celebration menu that has been used in the last six months, copies of activities the children took part in on the day of the religious celebration, and your food hygiene certificate.


Evidence only awards

Tell us why you should win by answering each of the questions online in each award category. You can also add up to three supporting pieces of evidence to your entry. These could include certificates, other awards received, photographs, action plans, testimonies from children, parents, or staff, any local newspaper reports or awards from other organisations, or reflections on the benefits of the initiative.

Your Ofsted rating is also considered as part of our judging criteria.


Play and Learning Award – 2022 Focus: Supporting Children with SEND

Play is how children learn all about the world around them and high-quality play experiences are essential to children’s development. Each year the ‘Learning Through Play Award’ will have a different focus. This year the award will focus on how you support children with SEND. The award is looking for examples of outstanding practice on how you support children with SEND to access play activities and experiences.


1. Tell us about your approach to inclusive play
2. Share an example of ‘reasonable adjustments’ you have made to your environment to include individual children with SEND
3. How do children with SEND develop a sense of belonging in your setting?
4. How do you use parents’ knowledge of their child to find out what children can do in order to plan high-quality play experiences?
5. Tell us about how you provide and support both indoor and outdoor play experiences that challenge children to: have a go, try new things, and take risks in their play and learning
6. Tell us about how you encourage and support social interactions during play
7. Describe how you identify, plan and evaluate play experiences
8. What communication tools and methods do you use to support children with SEND to share their thoughts with peers and adults throughout their play? How are these strategies/tools used to support practitioners to extend children's learning through play?
9. How do you capture the voice of children with SEND in your setting, in particular children with communication and interaction difficulties? (This is particularly in relation to interests that would then inform planning and play etc.)
10. How do you support transitions within the daily routines for children with SEND? How does this differ to your transition processes for other children?
11. Tell us how you work with external professionals to develop exciting and stimulating play opportunities to support children’s development
12. How do you support families with ideas for play experiences in the home?
13. Detail any specific training/development you provide to strengthen staff knowledge, skills, and practice in order to develop the learning potential of SEND children
14. Tell us about the progress children with SEND are making in relation to their starting points

About the Provision:
• Type of provision – nursery, pre-school, forest school, childminder, etc.?
• Number and age of children
• Number and qualifications of the staff
• Percentage of SEND children attending the setting
• Most recent inspection rating? (if applicable)

Additional criteria / information to upload
• Staff/parent/external professional witness statement
• Photographic evidence

Creative Use of Technology Award

This award looks at innovative uses of technology in any aspect of early years. This may include but is not limited to: parent communications, staff management, and communications, new or different ways of engaging children and families in learning during Covid-19, etc.

1. Tell us why you think you should win the Creative Use of Technology award
2. How have you used technology creatively and how has this made a difference in your setting for:
o Children
o Families
o Staff team.
3. Tell us about how you engaged other stakeholders in your innovative technology project and any support, guidance, or training you put in place to support the project and staff team/children/parents to use it
4. Describe how you support children and families with technology across your provision and how you teach children/families to stay safe online
5. Describe how you support staff with technology and how to keep themselves and the nursery safe


Supporting Staff Well-being Award

This award looks for settings that have developed strategies for supporting and promoting staff well-being and you will need to show how you prioritise staff well-being in your setting, e.g. introducing initiatives such as lunchtime walks, massage chairs, inspiration boards, well-being meetings, a free lunch meal, relaxation areas, flexible working, well-being surveys with action plans for change, links to local support organisations, team building days or activities and how you empower staff to look after their own well-being.


1. Describe how you identify the wellbeing needs of your staff team
2. Describe specific measures you have put in place to support staff wellbeing and the difference this has made on staff
3. Tell us about your most recent wellbeing initiative (in the last 12 months)
4. What mechanisms do you have in place to identify and support the well-being of leaders and managers?
5. Describe the routes you have in place for practitioners to gain any extra help and support they need, including personal support
6. Tell us how you encourage and provide wellbeing support for new starters or staff undertaking qualifications (mentors/coaching/buddies etc.)
7. Tell us about any external wellbeing support services you use or promote
8. Tell us how you provide a safe space/environment for practitioners to open up/confide/share any worries they may have

About the provision:
• Type of provision – nursery, pre-school, forest school, childminder, etc.?
• Number and age of children
• Number and qualifications of staff
• Most recent inspection rating? (if applicable)
• Details of any wellbeing schemes or awards you have undertaken

Additional criteria / information to upload:
• Staff witness testimony
• Photographic evidence

Nursery Training & Development Award

This award celebrates those settings that invest in the development and motivation of all staff.


1. Describe your setting’s ethos around building and retaining a high-quality staff team
2. Tell us how your approach fits into your annual planning
3. How is ongoing professional development identified and planned for leaders?
4. Tell us about succession planning within your setting and provide examples of how staff have progressed as a result of this
5. How are training and development needs identified and agreed upon with individual staff members?
6. Describe any training and development support you offer to new staff members
7. Tell us about how you evaluate the success of training undertaken by staff
8. How is learning fed back into the setting/practice/shared with other colleagues?
9. What strategies do you use to provide team development opportunities other than external training?
10. Tell us about the opportunities you provide for evaluation and reflective practice and how this feeds into your training plan
11. Describe the strategies you use to motivate and empower your staff team
12. Tell us how you support staff to understand how the role they play within the nursery links to the ethos/vision/mission of the setting
13. How do you support staff to understand the setting's mission, and can practitioners describe the purpose, values, and goals of the company?
14. Provide examples of the impact you have seen as a result of supporting development with:
o an individual member of staff
o a teams development
15. Tell us about staff retention. What is your percentage of staff turnover over the last 12 months and what were the reasons staff left?


Manager of the Year award

Entries are open to anyone working in a day nursery that holds a managerial title and responsibility. This includes Deputy Manager, General Manager, Nursery Manager, Nursery Director. Entries must be nominated by a colleague within the setting and evidence will need to be provided to support the nomination.

Do you have an outstanding manager who is passionate about childcare and supporting the staff/parents/colleagues/external professionals involved with your nursery? Please include staff comments and parents/external professional testimonials in your submission.


1. How does the manager make a positive impact on your:
o nursery
o working environment
o quality of provision
o children and parents.
2. What types of innovative practice has your manager introduced and what has been the difference this has made in practice?
3. Tell us about your manager and their journey through early years – how did they enter and progress to the management level. How long have they been employed in their position at the nursery?
4. How does your manager keep themselves up to date with what is happening in the wider sector?
5. Tell us about your managers drive for quality improvement and how the staff team are involved in this process
6. Describe how the manager inspires and motivates the staff team
7. The traits of an effective manager include transparency, excellent communication and listening skills, staff appreciation, consistency, and reliability in team management, they are trustworthy, drive set goals, and take responsibility for making decisions. Tell us how your manager demonstrates these traits? Provide specific examples where appropriate
8. Most importantly, why do you think your manager should win NDNA manager of the year?

Additional criteria / information to upload
• Testimonies from the staff at different levels and parents/carers.


Nomination based awards

Any nomination can be uploaded onto the awards website.

Network of the Year award

Entries are open to any NDNA Network and nominations may be made by any member(s) of that network. NDNA networks are rapidly expanding across the UK. If you’re part of an NDNA network that makes a positive contribution to progress within the nursery sector then nominate your network group now!


In no more than 1000 words tell us about:
• Your name and job title/role
• The NDNA network you wish to nominate/your position (chair/member, if applicable)
• How has the network made a difference to local providers including representation to local authorities etc.? Please focus on challenges and successes.



It's getting exciting

The voting has now closed for this year's awards. Thank you to all the nurseries that registered and the parents, carers, families and friends who voted.

We look forward to welcoming the shortlisted nurseries to our prestigious award ceremony on 24th JUNE 2022.

Award cermony details

Supported by

TTS Consortium


National Day Nurseries Association
National Early Years Enterprise Centre
Longbow Close

www.ndna.org.uk awards@ndna.org.uk 01484 407070