Nursery World Awards 2018: Individuals - Nursery Manager of the Year
Sunday, September 23, 2018
LInda Sawyer, Busy Bees, Salisbury
Linda Sawyer (pictured, seated) always harboured a desire to work with children and joined her first nursery aged 17, where she was encouraged to take her Level 2 and 3 qualifications in childcare. She briefly left the sector to take on a customer service manager role, but soon returned to her vocation and joined Busy Bees in 2003; first as a senior room manager, but later promoted to nursery manager in 2007.
Linda believes all children deserve the very best start in life, and works hard to ensure that this is put into practice in her nursery at all times. Her passion for caring for children has always been with her, but her drive and relentless commitment to ensuring that the children achieve, the staff are engaged and the parents are happy and reassured are what sets her apart.
She is responsible for every aspect of her nursery, which is at full occupancy with 93 children attending every day. Children are provided with stimulating, age-appropriate environments designed to stretch every aspect of their development, while an engaged nursery team makes sure the children are supported and nurtured as they learn through play.
Linda has successfully introduced key learning enhancements such as Shake and Write, a foundation writing enhancement, and Cooking with Me, which she runs alongside her fully trained chef and assistant chef.
With three of her own five children attending the nursery, Linda is fully aware of the need to involve parents in every aspect of their child’s experience throughout the day. She runs a parent partnership group and regularly meets with a representative from each age group. Linda manages her time flexibly and efficiently throughout the week to make sure she has availability to catch up with all parents at times that are convenient for them.
A great listener and diplomat, Linda has introduced many of her own ideas to the nursery to strengthen relationships with parents, including Next Step packs, which provide activities and helpful pointers that can be used in nursery and at home to allow parents to experience their child’s educational development first-hand.
Rather than managing from behind a desk, Linda is involved in all aspects of the nursery’s work, and her office door is always open to parents and staff alike. Her ‘exemplary’ leadership skills and management were heavily praised in the nursery’s latest Ofsted report in 2015. In her 15 years at Busy Bees, Linda has built a dedicated team of 32 staff whom she mentors and nurtures every day.
One of her colleagues says, ‘Linda has been my manager for just over a year, and it has been a pleasure to work for her during this time. She has helped me to reach my full potential. I went from an Early Years Educator to room manager in eight months and I couldn’t have done it without her help and guidance.’
Linda’s team also testify to her drive, determination and belief in her staff. Another says, ‘Her approach ensures we all want to do our best. During every enrolment week we beat our targets and at every audit or inspection we improve on our previous results.’
Despite everything she has already achieved, Linda is constantly thinking of ways to evolve and add an extra bit of magic to the children’s day.
"Linda has dedicated her life to childcare. A devoted mother of five children [who] still manages to maintain full occupancy and high quality" — judge
Lucy Clarke, Kiddi Caru Caldecott Day Nursery, Milton Keynes
Sharon Curtis, Ellesmere Children’s Centre, Sheffield
Sasha Northam, Hungry Caterpillar, Acton Park
Open to any nursery manager in a full daycare or sessional setting