Nursery World Awards: 16 Individuals - Nursery Practitioner of the Year

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Kate Hubbert, lead practitioner, Bright Horizons Elsie Inglis, Edinburgh


Kate’s ‘why not’ approach, combined with a sense of fun, has forged her a ‘pivotal role’ for both colleagues and the children in her care.

Since joining Elsie Inglis, Kate has developed great working relationships with the team and is considered a coach and mentor to all. Bright Horizons says that she engages staff and ensures they feel valued, promoting a sense of excitement for learning across the setting, with high expectations of herself for further training, research and sharing skills with others.

Bright Horizons regional manager Sally Tilley describes Kate as ‘adaptable’ and a ‘great support to the leadership team’, acting in the manager’s absence. ‘She has a “why not” approach and offers staff the autonomy to carry out tasks and daily duties with confidence as she builds trust in her team members,’ says Ms Tilley.

‘Kate is very personable and this rubs off on other people; she creates a relaxed and fun environment for the staff and children and always sees the fun in her work. You often hear her laughing, which is infectious.’

By encouraging colleagues to be self-reflective, and by developing action plans, she plays a key role in the personal and professional growth of others. She also helps colleagues to think creatively, particularly with their room displays, and provides effective guidance for supporting children with challenging behaviour or those with special educational needs.

Kate helped to create a ‘SHANNARI tree’ – a visual way of sharing both staff, parents’ and children’s benchmarks, displayed in the main setting hallway. When dealing with feedback from parents, she is said to be constructive, listening proactively to the children’s ideas, offering them opportunities for exploration and investigation.

‘She has a deep understanding of how to meet the needs of the children in the nursery,’ adds Ms Tilley.

Colleagues report fantastic feedback from parents after Kate developed a play and learning at home project. Kate helps plan family events, such as curriculum evenings during which parents are invited to learn more about their child’s development, and she also organises social events for the nursery including barbecues and fêtes.

Another colleague says, ‘Thanks to her determination and hard work she has transformed our pre-school room into an inviting and bright space. She often challenges the way we do things in order to make our work more effective. She is a true problem-solver and no project is too big. She tackles any difficulty with enthusiasm, which is truly inspiring.’

‘She has a pivotal role for children and colleagues, and her impact on children is clear’ - Judge


Emma Austin, Finchfield Nursery, The Co-operative Childcare, Wolverhampton

Emma Burns, Kids Planet Beamont, Warrington

Karen Elliott, Maple Leaf Day Care, Digby

Magda Gaplinska, Bright Horizons, Crouch End

Faye Pagan, Kids Planet, The House, Crosby, Liverpool


Open to qualified practitioners in an early years setting in the maintained, private or voluntary sectors

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