Nursery World Awards 2013: Organisations - Nursery Chain of the Year

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Winner: Bertram Nursery Group, Scotland and North West England

While operating 34 nurseries, Bertram's ethos is to run as a 'collection of individual nurseries supported by robust policies and procedures, effective operating systems and a skilled, experienced and highly dedicated team of senior management and support staff'.

This statement is supported by parents who specifically comment on the personal approach that they and their children receive.

The chain, which was formed in 2006 - bringing together Happitots Day Nurseries, Strawberry Hill Nursery and other subsidiaries - has a Charter for Excellence that aims to put people at the centre of all decisions.

This outlines how Bertram Nursery Group will support:

  • children - such as giving them freedom to express their feelings and emotions, respect them as unique individuals and promote learning through play;
  • parents - including keeping them notified of their child's development and supporting their primary parenting role;
  • staff members - through involving them in the development of the business and providing on-going training.

A judge commented on the quality training and growth development provided by the chain. This is also borne out through the strong record of staff retention and low turnover in all the nurseries. Managements work closely with staff members to ensure that they feel valued, offering rewards and incentive schemes. The nursery group has recently invested in an online training platform, allowing staff to access training resources and trainer assessor support at their convenience. It even incorporates an app that can be used online or offline. A new staff intranet system is being designed.

Bertram Nursery Group was one of only nine Scottish companies to make the Investec Hot 100 fastest growing UK businesses for 2012. Directors aim to continue this growth with plans including extending the business footprint in their cluster areas. They are currently working on multiple acquisitions, including a mid-sized nursery group. Staff teams are involved in these aims and continue to feel valued and proud to work for the chain as it develops.

Highly commended

Snapdragons Nurseries, Bath, Bristol and Wiltshire

This family-owned business started 15 years ago in the owner's home and now employs 165 staff across seven settings. Judges noted the chain's 'high focus' on staff development.

The chain received recognition two years ago when it was one of the first nurseries to introduce iPads and has continued to invest in technology, including immersive 4D technology, and use it innovatively through its links with a local primary school.

In addition, nursery managers have a flexible approach when responding to parents' needs, allowing them to swap and add ad hoc sessions.


Dizzy Ducks Day Nurseries, Essex (six settings)

Elmscot Group, Cheshire (three settings and seven out-of-school clubs)

Mama Bear's Day Nursery, south west of England (17 settings)


Open to nursery groups with three or more settings.

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