Nursery World Awards 2021 - Trainer of the Year

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Joint winner: Ruth Swailes, Assure Education

You can download the digital Awards book here

Ruth has over 25 years’ experience in primary and early years education, over 20 of them in senior leadership roles including primary headship.

She currently fulfils a range of education improvement roles. She works part-time as a school improvement adviser to 42 local authority schools. Throughout her time in the local authority advisory service, she has improved schools and helped secure a raft of Good and Outstanding Ofsted outcomes, providing performance management support for headteachers and helping governing bodies with strategic leadership.

Ruth also works with a range of schools to provide training, school improvement advice, appraisals, coaching, mentoring, and practical advice and support.

In addition, she is a national senior leadership consultant with Early Excellence, is working with Oxford University Press to develop an international early years curriculum, and is a founding member of the ‘Firm Foundations’ movement, bringing training and debate at minimal cost to educators across the country.

Ruth is engaged in a wide range of voluntary professional development activities including #BrewED, TeacherHug Radio, and Firm Foundations training.

Ruth is a champion of others and uses her training and social media accounts not only to share best practice but to acknowledge the strengths and achievements of others. She showcases the work of schools, settings, researchers and other trainers and is a ‘go to’ colleague for advice on all things early years.

During the pandemic, Ruth built a bank of professional resources for colleagues in schools and settings. In partnership with several education and health professionals, Ruth curated much-needed support and made it available for all practitioners free online.

Ruth has supported so many people in the community through difficult times professionally. A good example of this was during the lockdown in 2020. Ruth ran a ‘virtual staffroom’ via Zoom several times a week which many early years professionals attended. Colleagues have said how reassuring they found it to meet with so many wonderful people at a time when many felt so alone. This would not have happened without Ruth’s initiative.

In addition, Ruth developed numerous inspiring and engaging ‘lockdown activity’ videos for children and families which are freely available to all.

She is currently studying for an MA at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood, focusing on physical development in the EYFS.

As one teacher says, ‘Ruth is an authority on early years education and child development. But more than this, she’s an authority who can communicate her knowledge with humour, humanity and humility.’


Alison Featherbe, Orange Caterpillar


Kelly Cave, Strode College

Kate Wake, National Extension College


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