Awards Criteria 2020

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 (1,000 words or less).

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

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. 

The regions are defined below and in the image (below).

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.


  • 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 quality improvement scheme such as Quality Counts, Investors in People, Millie’s Mark or other
  • Leadership in your setting and how you substantiate it?
  • How you support successful parent partnerships
  • How you involve your children in the local community
  • How you involve the children, parents and carers and serve the local community
  • What impact you have had on the children and families at your setting
  • The Unique Selling Point (USP) of your setting
  • Your future plans
  • Why you should win Nursery of the Year.


Practitioner of the Year

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.


  • How long has the practitioner been employed at the nursery?
  • What are the practitioner’s main responsibilities?
  • List the practitioner’s qualifications and training including their level
  • What are their future career/development plans?
  • What impact has this practitioner made on:
    • Your provision
    • Children and families
    • Their colleagues.

Healthy Nursery of the Year

Nurseries have a vital role to play in creating the pathways to a healthy life for the children in your care. Tell us when you register about your healthy eating policies, the outdoor activities you provide and how you work with parents to encourage healthy habits at home.


  • How does your nursery develop knowledge and attitudes towards healthy lifestyles?
  • What physical or movement based activities do the children engage in and how often – an example activity schedule or other evidence would be helpful here to show how you ensure children meet the Chief Medical Officers recommended daily guidelines for physical activity?
  • How do you establish good practice in all areas including oral hygiene, outdoor play and mental well-being?
  • How do you support parents and families with good practice?
  • Example menu from your nursery which you have used in the last six months
  • Evidence that you meet food hygiene regulations may be requested if you are shortlisted for the award
  • 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
  • Tell us about any initiatives you take part in to support healthy practices e.g. supporting parents understanding of physical/sedentary activities.


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.


Innovative Practice Award

This award looks for examples of innovative practice in any aspect of early years. This may include but is not limited to: parent projects, partnerships, environmental initiatives, new or different ways of narrowing the gap for disadvantaged children, new techniques or activities for teaching numeracy or literacy.


  • Describe how you have introduced new or innovative ways of working into your setting or in your community
  • Numbers and ages of children involved/details of parents/staff or other stakeholders or community members?
  • What were your objectives or goals?
  • What difference have the changes made to the children and their outcomes or parents/staff/community/other stakeholders?
  • What barriers did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

Additional criteria/information to upload

  • Ofsted rating
  • Any other awards received
  • Testimonies from staff and evidence of your initiatives.


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 wellbeing in your setting, e.g. introducing initiatives such as lunch time 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 they empower staff to look after their own well-being. 


  • Provide some background information on your nursery including number of children, number of staff and any specific details about the type of provision and your location.
  • How are you supporting staff well-being?
  • Have you introduced any new initiatives in the last year and why?
  • What barriers did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
  • What have been the results and/or the benefits to your staff and your nursery?

Additional criteria/information to upload

  • Ofsted rating
  • Any other awards received.
  • Evidence that illustrates how you meet the award criteria could include photographs, action plans, testimonies from children/parents/staff, any local newspaper reports or awards from other organisations, or reflections on the benefits of the initiative.


Team development award

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


  • What is the setting’s ethos around building and retaining a high quality team
  • How motivated are your team – what evidence do you have and how do you ensure your team work together towards your settings ethos and vision?
  • What does the leadership team structure look like?
  • What progression opportunities are there in the setting and what is staff retention like?
  • What strategies do you use to provide team development opportunities other than external training and how is learning fed back into the setting/practice/shared with other colleagues?

Additional Criteria/information to upload

  • Ofsted rating
  • Testimonies from staff at different levels.


Manager of the Year

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’s testimonials in your submission.


  • How long has the manager been employed in their position at the nursery?
  • How does the manager make a positive impact on your nursery, working environment, quality of provision, children and parents?
  • What types of innovative practice has your manager has introduced?
  • How does the manager inspire the staff team?
  • Most importantly, why do you think your manager should win NDNA manager of the year?

Additional criteria/information to upload

  • Testimonies from staff at different levels and parents.


SENDCO of the Year Award (NEW)

This award looks for examples of innovative and excellent inclusive practice by a SENDCo. This may include, but is not limited to, high aspirations for SEND children being achieved, providing outstanding support for children and families, projects or initiatives implemented to support children and families, strong relationships with external agencies to meet children and family’s needs, supporting positive transitions at the setting or moving onto school, examples of inclusive practice with peers - thinking about how the SENDCo has supported the child alongside their peers and children understanding and valuing similarities and difference.


  • What are your aspirations for SEND children in your care and what do you do to achieve them?
  • What new projects or initiatives have you implemented to support SEND children and their families?
  • What have you done to develop strong relationships with external agencies and how has this helped the children?
  • Provide examples of your support for positive transitions within the setting or in moving to school?
  • What examples do you have of developing inclusive practice?

Additional criteria / information to upload

  • Ofsted rating
  • Photographs, action plans, testimonies from children/parents/staff.


Nomination based awards

Any nomination can be uploaded onto the awards website or email your nominations and supporting information for these awards to NDNA: awards@ndna.org.uk

Outstanding Contribution Award

Nominations are open to individuals working in or on behalf of the early years sector.
This award is to highlight the work of individuals and groups and to thank them for their continued efforts and achievements. The award is open to anyone working in or with the nursery sector, including NDNA members and volunteers, local authority staff and the media. Nominate your Outstanding Contributor and say thank you!


In no more than 1000 words, tell us about:

  • Your name and job title or role in early years
  • Who are you nominating?
  • What sector do they work in?
    • Early years
    • Local authority
    • Volunteer
    • Parent
    • Media
    • Network or group.

Tell us how their work been shared more widely and positively impacted the good of the early years sector?


Outstanding Network 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! Nominations should be emailed to awards@ndna.org.uk.


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 5th JUNE 2020.

Award cermony details

Supported by

Bambini Recruitment
Christie & Co
Morgan La Roche


National Day Nurseries Association
National Early Years Enterprise Centre
Longbow Close

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