Nursery World Awards 2019: Individuals - Nursery Practitioner of the Year

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Tessa Winters, Stramash Tornagrain Inverness

Tessa is senior practitioner at Stramash Tornagrain, where she can be relied upon to provide a friendly and welcoming face to all children, whether it is their first day or their hundredth.

Inclusive and sensitive, she knows all the children and their likes, dislikes, needs and desires and is an expert in child-directed play and learning.

In the fully outdoor setting, Tessa is always engaging children in their natural environment, pointing out new discoveries or leading them on adventures through the woods, making sure that rain never stops play.

As a mother to two girls herself, Tessa understands parents' concerns, hopes and day-to-day realities. She is calm, listens well, and ensures parents feel heard and supported during their interactions with nursery staff. Communicating across several fronts, whether face-to-face or by posting updates and pictures to the nursery's private Facebook group, she knows that parents value seeing and hearing the little details of their child's day.

Creating dynamic care plans for children in conjunction with parents, health visitors and the child's wider network, Tessa communicates across the wider team, ensuring parents' wishes are heard and delivered on site.

Tessa is a true advocate for the organisation and has recently been involved in the Erasmus project, sharing her skills and knowledge with childcare practitioners in Lithuania. She is an energetic and determined fundraiser, raising thousands of pounds for the nursery's charity via Christmas and summer fairs and through local businesses.

Supporting her colleagues also comes naturally to Tessa. During the nursery's recent site move, she led from the front supporting the team, reassuring parents and handling the logistics of a whole nursery move. At the new Tornagrain setting, Tessa set to work once again, clearing woodland, building an educationally rich and appropriately challenging play and learning environment for the second time in a year.

Whether meeting new families or putting in paths, building bonds with new children or creating shelters and cosy reading nooks from recycled materials, Tessa is a uniquely skilled and highly valued practitioner. If something needs doing, Tessa has probably already done it!

HIGHLY COMMENDED Lauren O'Brien, Woodlands Day Nursery, Elmscot Group, Altrincham

Lauren O'Brien has dedicated 16 years to the early years sector in Trafford and her years of experience shine through in her passion for nurturing children and tailoring her approach and interactions to meet their specific needs.

She has a way of pulling the best out of her teammates with an infectious enthusiasm, meeting monthly with practitioner representatives from other settings to discuss issues staff have raised and how they can be rectified.

When Lauren was allocated a new key child with Smith-Magenis syndrome, she extensively researched the condition, working with his existing key worker, parents and other professionals to ensure she had a thorough knowledge of how best to support him.

Her newfound passion for communication and language saw Lauren take on the role of ‘communication champion’, extending her commitment to partnership working and building relationships with local child psychologists, health visitors, speech and language therapists and early years consultants while working towards the Trafford Giving Voice accreditation.


“A committed practitioner, her work with the children shines through

– judge



Kelly Burchell, Holmsdale Manor Nursery, Ibstock

Sofina Choudhury, Hale Day Nursery, Elmscot Group, Altrincham

Jenna Dempsey, YMCA Fairthorne Manor Nursery, Southampton

Mellie Edgar, Tiddlywinks Day Nursery, Bury


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

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