They had the incredibly difficult task of deciding the winners of our awards from a record number of entries with impressively high standards. Huge thanks to them all!
Ann Clare PhD is an EYFS consultant for local authorities. Ann qualified as a teacher before studying for her MA in Early Childhood Education. She managed a small private nursery school and was area manager of a nursery chain. Her main interest is babies and young children under three, and she is author of Creating a Learning Environment for Babies and Toddlers (Sage, 2012).
David moved into the early years in 2004 after a 25-year career in IT, and is an Early Years Professional. He and his wife Anna are joint owners of Paint Pots Nurseries, which operates seven settings in the Southampton area. The nursery group motto is 'Love, Laughter and Learning'. David is an advocate for men in early years and works to influence public opinion and policy in this area.
Diana is a dietitian and registered public health nutritionist, as well as a qualified chef, with many years experience in public health, policy-making and education settings. Diana has research interests in weaning practices in multi-ethnic communities and oral health issues among pre-school children. She is working with The Soil Association as early years project manager for the Food For Life Partnership.
Helen is an independent early years consultant and writer. She has been headteacher of an early years centre and worked in schools and as a university lecturer. At National Strategies, she was involved in developing the EYFS and was national lead for Every Child a Talker. She co-authored Development Matters and Understanding the Revised EYFS. Helen is president of Early Education.
James was just 15 when the first Snapdragons nursery opened in 1998, but he is now director of the company, which has seven settings in Bath and Wiltshire. He spends his time developing the company website and nursery magazine, taking photographs, and creating movies for the families of the nurseries to watch. His passion lies in technology and pushing the boundaries of new ideas.
Jane has been a registered childminder since 1995 and was awarded outstanding in all areas at her past two inspections. A volunteer with the National Childminding Association for many years, she joined its board as a trustee in 2011 and is now vice-chair of the organisation, now the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years. She gained Early Years Professional Status in 2011.
Jane is director of Red Hen day nursery. She has a passion for educating young children and parents about good food, and was winner of the Nursery World Food Award 2009, and finalist in the BBC Food and Farming Awards Caterer category 2012. Jane's nursery is recognised for its outstanding practice on a working farm and has also won the Nursery World Enabling Environments award.
Jennie founded Kids Allowed in 2003 and it has since grown from an idea into five award-winning centres with close to 300 employees. Jennie and Kids Allowed have won numerous awards in the sector and outside it. She often speaks at childcare and entrepreneurship events. Jennie is also a non-executive director at The Christie, a specialist cancer hospital in Manchester.
Jo has been the manager at Weavers Fields Community Nursery since 2006, and has had several roles within the organisation over the past 23 years. She has Early Years Professional Status and a BA Honours degree in Early Childhood Studies. Jo is particularly interested in the emotional well-being of children, and in developing and supporting the staff team in their professional development.
Julie is nursery manager at Luton Street Community nursery (part of LEYF). She has worked with children and families for 20 years and in 2011 completed the Early Years Foundation Degree. Her varied experience includes working as a holiday rep, a nanny in Australia, and an au pair in America, but most of her career has been spent in charity organisations. Julie enjoys working with the local community.
Kathy is an early years trainer. She achieved Early Years Professional Status in 2007 and now coaches and mentors practitioners with the status. Kathy also lectures on degree courses at Stockport College. She has a Masters in Early Childhood Education from the University of Sheffield. Her book, Observation, Assessment and Planning, was published by Open University Press in April.
Linda is a workforce development consultant with Essex County Council, supporting the early years workforce and, in particular, Early Years Professionals/Early Years Teachers. She started her career in early years in Australia more than 20 years ago and has worked in occasional, sessional and full day care in a number of roles including nursery manager in both Australia and the UK.
Marg is one of the founding members of Busy Bees, established in 1983. She is now managing director, with responsibility for delivery of childcare in its 213 UK nurseries. The ambition to provide exciting, innovative care for children continues to be upheld today. Previously a teacher of children with multiple complex needs, Marg was instrumental in developing the first Busy Bees Nursery in Lichfield.
Mary is a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University, an author and an independent consultant on equality and inclusion of young children. She originally trained as a primary school teacher and has worked with practitioners, young children and families for 35 years. She also has extensive experience as a trainer of practitioners at all levels of expertise and on a wide range of issues.
Nancy is a trainer, consultant and writer with extensive experience in schools, children's centres and private provision. She advised the Tickell Review, and co-produced the revised EYFS Development Matters. At National Strategies, Nancy led Every Child a Talker in central England. Recent writing includes How Children Learn: the characteristics of effective early learning (Early Education 2011).
Neil is chief executive officer of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, which supports more than 800,000 children and their families through its membership of day nurseries, sessional pre-schools and childminders. He originally qualified in electronic communication, then worked in financial underwriting and lending. Neil chaired the Finance Industry Standards Association until 2006.
Nicole is a freelance journalist specialising in early education, childcare and under-threes development. She spent five years writing news and features in-house for Nursery World and continues to be a regular freelance contributor. She has extensive links throughout the childcare sector. Since becoming a mum she is even more passionate about what's on offer for children in the early years.
Penny is an education consultant, author and trainer. She previously worked as an early years and primary teacher before lecturing on childhood studies. Penny has also worked as the UK education and training manager of a large nursery chain. She has written more than 30 books, including the best-selling Practical EYFS Handbook. Penny is currently also a consultant for awarding body Edexcel.
Purnima is chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association and works closely with ministers and civil servants to represent the early years sector. She has been instrumental in establishing the National Early Years Enterprise Centre. Purnima's career spans public, private and voluntary sectors. She has been awarded an Order of the British Empire.
Sue is an independent consultant and senior LEYF associate. She worked first as a nursery nurse and then as a teacher. She was head of a nursery school where she opened a special needs unit for children with complex needs. She has also been a local authority early years advisor. Sue's research projects for LEYF include Men in Childcare and The Twoness of Twos.
Sue joined the charity 4Children as head of early years in May 2011 with the specific brief to lead the development of the Department for Education's new early years strategic programme, Foundations for the Future. She has worked as an Ofsted inspector and is recognised nationally for her work on early years quality improvement. She has also worked at schools and local authorities.
Wendy received the Nursery World Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. She is a Froebel-trained teacher and was head of a demonstration nursery school. Wendy is president of TACTYC and served on the Nutbrown Review. She was chief executive of the British Association for Early Childhood Education and chair of the Early Childhood Forum. She has worked with the DfES, the British Council and UNICEF.
Zoe is managing director of Acorn Childcare, which she founded in 1989, growing the not-for-profit organisation to a group of nine. The nurseries are in Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire, together with seven out-of-school clubs and, under the Tall Oaks brand, forest schools. Zoe has worked as an associate lecturer on the Open University Early Years Foundation Degree courses and as an assessor for EYPS.