Nursery World Awards 14: Individuals - Lifetime Achievement

Monday, September 29, 2014

Winner - Professor Tina Bruce, Visiting professor of Early Childhood Studies at Roehampton University

Tina Bruce is a Froebelian who has a sustained interest in play. As a Froebelian educator, she is guided by principles such as working with the whole child. She has written and edited 29 books and many articles.

But she is perhaps best known in academic circles for the 10 principles of early childhood first published in 1987 in her book Early Childhood Education and the 12 features of play, published in her second book, Time to Play in Early Childhood Education 1991, which is my all time favourite. This was the first Tina Bruce book I bought and one I still refer to today.

One of the most important things about Tina is her natural ability to support and empower others. She has supported me, Georgie McCall, Jane Whinnett, Lynn McNair, Julian Grenier, Julia Manning Morton, Penny Holland, and Jenny Spratt, just to mention a few. She has co-authored with nearly all of the people that she has supported.

Tina has become part of the history of play. Her work has been important in influencing current thinking and curriculum development in the Early Years Foundation Stage. She was appointed a member of the working parties in England that developed the 'Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage' (QCA/DfEE, 2000), the 'Birth to Three Matters Framework' (DfES, 2002) and the Foundation Stage Profile (QCA/DfES, 2003). Also, Tina was awarded a CBE in the New Years Honours in December 2008 for 'services to early years education' and in 2010, she contributed to the Tickell Review of The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

Many of you may be unaware that Tina is the lead research fellow in a project funded by the Froebel Trust in Soweto, South Africa. For the past eight years, she has worked with teachers in this community, working with up to 300 children and their families affected or infected by HIV or Aids.

Tina has an amazing ability to interweave theory and practice using and promoting practical examples that practitioners recognise. She is deeply Froebelian and has developed Froebel's principles in ways that are culturally appropriate to promote play in her work in Soweto. I am privileged to be a member of her Soweto team. I have learned so much from her, her way of saying things in a caring yet professional way, and how she relates to everyone around her making them feel valued and that their views are always welcomed.

I deeply appreciate Tina's ability to stick to Froebelian principles amid all the years of changing policies and politicians. She has been the one who has put Froebel on the early years educational map. Working with people rather than against them in a non-confrontational way is Tina's modus operandi.

Tina is a serious academic but not a 'serious' person. Her sense of humour knows no bounds. Tina told me that as a student she used to have to climb in through the window after going to the theatre because the main gate closed at 10pm. She is a good little mover on the dance floor and a bit of a choreographer at heart. She has been known on a few occasions to get me involved in helping children to learn Tudor dances. Tina has a way of getting you to do things before you realise what is involved.

Tina always advocates the best experiences, and the best people to work with and for young children, and really deserves to be celebrated.

I'm thrilled that my friend, tutor and mentor, Professor Tina Bruce has been chosen to receive Nursery World's Lifetime Achievement award.


Professor Tina Bruce is an honorary visiting professor of Early Childhood Studies at Roehampton University.

In 2008, she was awarded a CBE for Services to early years education.

Tina trained as a primary teacher at the Froebel Educational Institute, now part of Roehampton University. She went on to become a Froebelian educator guided by principles that promote a holistic approach to teaching young children.

She is best known for her ability to interweave Froebelian theory and practice, and for developing the 10 Principles of Early Childhood in her first book, published in 1987. She has since written and edited 28 books.

Tina has played an instrumental role in laying the foundations of early education as co-ordinator of the Early Years Advisory Group to successive Government childcare ministers for 10 years.

She is also vice-president of the British Association for Early Childhood Education, vice chair of the Froebel Trust Education Committee and chair of the Archive Advisory Group of the Frobel Trust, of which she is a trustee.


Early Childhood Education (4th ed), Hodder Education (2011)

Cultivating Creativity: Babies, Toddlers and Young Children, Hodder Education (2011)

Learning through Play: Babies, Toddlers and Young Children, Hodder Education (2011)

Childcare and Education (5th ed), Hodder Education (2010, with Carolyn Meggitt and Julian Grenier)

Observing Young Children, Sage (2014, with Stella Louis and Georgie McCall).

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