Nursery World Awards 2021 - Pre-School of the Year

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Greenhouse Multi-Cultural Play and Arts Project, Liverpool

You can download the digital Awards book here

Approximately 95 per cent of children at Outstanding-rated charity organisation the Greenhouse Project have English as an Additional Language. As a result, the project focuses heavily on engaging parents in their work to help support the needs of the whole family and aims to provide quality early education to children from the community by prioritising ‘staff over stuff’.

Activities are delivered through the day in the project’s large garden or Forest School, with around 80 per cent of the daily routine taking place outdoors, regardless of weather.

Practice is rooted in children’s personal interests and opinions, promoting a culture of respect, support, and multiculturalism to help children grow up confident and equipped to face any challenges ahead. Daily conversations at circle time allow staff to note children’s interests and opinions on different topics, and they use this information, alongside All About Me forms, cultural approach forms and daily observations, to discuss any strategic decision that will affect provision.

Children are even involved in recruitment and hiring, with prospective staff engaging in storytelling with children so engagement can be considered in the final decision.

The setting’s early years educators are constantly working on continuous professional development through active reflective opportunities to improve their practice and challenge themselves. Every key person is well supported and encouraged to take the lead on the care and support of their key children. They undertake CPD on all relevant topics, from how to handle difficult conversations with parents to how to lead on their own key children’s Early Help Assessment Tools.

Partnership with parents is the keystone of the setting. Parents and staff have both daily informal conversations and formal termly reviews, where they speak in depth about the family situation, including concerns about language barriers and immigration status, and they work together to help support children in all areas of learning and development.

Every term, parents’ reviews allow parents to give feedback about the support provided by the setting and what they would like to see more of. All compliments and complaints are recorded and considered during termly reviews of the project’s Focused Improvement Plan.

Short projects and activities within the setting aim to respond to common needs among families, from English language lessons to helping families socialise when they are struggling with a lack of social interactions.

Parents regularly volunteer to help with sessions, learning how to support their children through play and gaining social interactions and language practice.

Monthly meetings with local leaders of other projects and organisations allow the setting to find opportunities and support from the wider community. For example, with most families from deprived backgrounds, the setting is a Fare Share provider. During the lockdowns, if a family were to self-isolate, another organisations and projects stepped in to help provide resources and food for any families stuck at home.

By helping children and families to feel confident being themselves and expressing their thoughts and choices, speaking any language they choose, experimenting with new foods and activities and exploring all kinds of resources, Greenhouse sets them up to face any of life’s challenges with emotional intelligence and resilience.


Bury Grammar School, Bury

Busy Bees Ledbury, Herefordshire

Findon Valley Free Church Preschool, Worthing

Kilsby Pre-School, Rugby


Open to registered settings offering sessional care and education

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