Nursery World Awards 16: Organisations - Nursery of the Year

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Atelier Nursery, Bath


Atelier Nursery has made impressive progress since the managers decided to keep the former Norland Nursery open when its closure was announced three years ago. The staff team demonstrates a shared vision and commitment to their enlightened approach, which is grounded in warm and respectful relationships and provides supportive continuity for children.

The settling-in period for the wide range of families involved continues as long as necessary; parents feel welcome and are warmly supported with sympathy and insight. The key person relationship is sustained consistently throughout children’s time at nursery.

The adults are based in specific spaces, including the outdoor area, which are richly resourced. This enables free flow between all parts of the nursery and enables children of different ages to explore and work together.

Two supernumerary artists are working in depth with groups of children, and make a powerful contribution to the beautiful and informative display. The way that staff know and appreciate each child and his or her family circumstances is impressive, and can be seen in the records, which are proactively shared with home. At Atelier they are analysed regularly to give information about curriculum coverage and the development of cohorts of children as well as individual progress.

Following careful induction, all staff are encouraged to work from their strengths and to develop their interests and skills. The strong shared educational philosophy draws on selected influences from various sources and continues to develop, not least through mutually beneficial links with university departments as well as through the training that staff offer both within the local authority and more widely.

One of Atelier’s recent collaborative developments is the monthly communication café held at the nursery, during which parents, staff and artists come together for an evening meal over which they share an honest discussion of the children’s learning. They work collaboratively to share ideas and resources, to plan for and enhance the learning opportunities offered to children.

Judge Wendy Scott says:

‘This has been an exceptional year in terms of the very high quality of the shortlisted nurseries, and it has been very difficult to select just one for the award. I commend all five shortlisted nurseries for the principled, generous and dedicated way each one is working to benefit children in the context of each individual family. I have been privileged to witness exceptionally thoughtful practice, and high levels of professional love for colleagues and families as well as children. It is very encouraging to hear how parents appreciate each nursery, and to know of the contributions made to the professional development of colleagues working in other settings and indeed other countries.

‘Both Little Forest Folk and the Nature Kindergarten are offering invaluable and inspiring experiences to children and foster a very strong link with parents, who are convinced of the value of their approach. The active international connections and the rigorous and well-informed thinking of managers and staff at High House Nursery are impressively interpreted in practice.’

‘An amazing team [who are there] as much for you as your child. A real home from home’ - Parent

Highly commended

Dukes and Duchesses, Liverpool

Dukes and Duchesses is a small nursery in the centre of Liverpool showing that size and location are no barrier to high-quality provision. It is highly commended for the imaginative, encouraging and inclusive provision it makes, and the way it links to the wider community. Staff picked up on the idea of random acts of kindness introduced by a parent, and made cakes which they distributed to friends in the neighbourhood, who included a homeless man as well as shopkeepers. This typifies the creative and generous approach to be seen all around the nursery.

The staff team’s knowledge of each child is detailed and accurate, and as skilled, reflective and flexible practitioners they can support each unique child in the most appropriate way.


Auchlone Nature Kindergarten, Crieff

High House Nursery, Bishop’s Stortford

Little Forest Folk, London


Open to registered settings offering full daycare for children from birthto five (private, voluntary or maintained sector)

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