Nursery World Awards 2018: Individuals - Nursery Practitioner of the Year

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Adele Hooper, Chatterbox House Day Nursery, Sidcup

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Adele Hooper joined Chatterbox House in 2013 as an unqualified member of staff, having never worked with children before. Since then, she has taken on a Level 2 qualification and worked across all areas of the nursery. In a short period of time, Adele became invaluable to the setting.

She has 18 key children, whose parents receive daily updates from her via an app. This includes a daily diary about the child’s day, information on what they have eaten and drunk, a minimum of two observations per week, plus photos and videos.

Adele works alongside the pre-school room leader by contributing to planning and delivering the EYFS. She also works with children with special educational needs and has improved their outcomes significantly. The setting’s recent Ofsted inspection stated that the ‘quality of teaching means that children are well prepared for the next stage in their learning, including school’. Managers attribute this largely to the work Adele does with pre-school children, ensuring they reach their early learning goals and are ready for the next step.

Under Adele’s direction, children enjoy many new experiences, including sign-language classes, yoga activities and football lessons. Her caring, calm and patient demeanour is hugely reassuring to parents, many of whom can feel anxious or guilty about leaving their child at nursery. Her care and devotion to the children she cares for is unconditional, and can always be relied upon to reassure nervous families.

The nursery receives comments on almost a weekly basis from parents about how much they appreciate her and the work she does for their children. Adele manages to put them all at ease, comfortable in the knowledge that their children are spending the day with a loving, reliable and trustworthy practitioner.

During a time of upheaval at the nursery, with changes to ownership and management, Adele’s reliability and consistency has been important for children, parents and staff alike. Managers testify to Adele being the ‘rock’ of the nursery, providing everybody involved with the stability they need.

As the longest-standing employee at Chatterbox House, Adele’s experience and knowledge of the children means that her colleagues, whatever their qualifications, look up to her as a role model for guidance. Adele’s colleagues have learned from her experience and knowledge, enabling them to become better practitioners themselves.

Adele can always be counted on to go the extra mile. One parent says, ‘My child has had times when he didn’t want me to leave him at nursery. Those times are hard. But whenever Adele is there my heart is at ease because she finds ways to distract him, cuddles him and makes him feel better even before I’ve left the building. That is a skill not everyone has, but Adele excels in it.’

"A warm, caring practitioner who is a real professional and makes a real impact on the children and families she is supporting" — judge

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Georgina Elton, Kiddi Caru Caldecott Day Nursery, Milton Keynes

Georgina is a natural at building positive relationships with children and families.

When a parent asked for help in weaning a child from his dummy, Georgina created a fairy door in the garden for the children to find, and the child left his dummies next to it along with letters and pictures. The child received a special letter and certificate from the fairy thanking him for the dummies, and Georgina took photos of the activity to help the parents feel included in the process.

Georgina also led on ridding the nursery of all plastic toys. She has been instrumental in helping the setting achieve the Smile Award, which promotes health and well-being, and a Platinum Green Tree Award.

FINALISTS

Sonia Church, Kidzone Cranwell, Sleaford

Rebecca Claassen, Kiddi Caru Plympton Day Nursery, Plymouth

Chevone Newman, South Acton Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Acton

Sarah Walton, Cherubs Longdale, Nottingham

CRITERION

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

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