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  • Entry deadline: Friday 10th May 2024
  • All categories are free to enter, except for the Professional Book of the Year category, which costs £99 to enter.
  • Please upload a photo to your entry (or multiple photos where necessary) which best represent your submission.
  • These awards are open to nurseries and practitioners based in the UK and Ireland. International entries will not be put forward for judging.
  • Please make sure to submit your entry once it is finished. If your entry remains in your 'Saved Items' or 'Basket' section, this entry will not be judged. We are unable to submit your entry on your behalf.
  • The content of your submission should reflect the work that has taken place over the past year from yourself, your nominee or your organisation. Prior work may be mentioned in your entry, but this should not represent the main focus of your submission.
  • You may submit multiple entries in all our categories. However, please only submit one entry to represent one person/company in a single category. Multiple entries to represent one person/company will not affect the outcome of the results.
  • If you have any issues, please contact awardsteam@markallengroup.com and we will be happy to help.

Entry Deadline: Friday 10th May 2024

2024 Categories


Open to registered settings offering full daycare for children from 0-5 (private, voluntary or maintained sector), which have an Outstanding or Good grade (or equivalent). Your nursery should display excellence in every aspect of care, learning and development for all children; provide inspirational environments; have an exemplary approach to staff development; and foster warm, supportive relationships with parents and carers.

Site Visits - Please note that after the judging has taken place, it is standard procedure for site visits to be carried out for the shortlisted nurseries by one of the judges for this category.

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Open to UK nursery groups with three or more settings. Your group should be a well-run business, which displays excellence in every aspect of care, learning and development for all children; provides inspirational environments; has an exemplary approach to staff development; and fosters warm, supportive relationships with parents and carers.

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Open to registered settings offering sessional care and education. Your pre-school should display excellence in every aspect of care, learning and development for all children; provide inspirational environments; have an exemplary approach to staff development; and foster warm, supportive relationships with parents and carers.

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For Early Years Foundation Stage or equivalent provision in primary schools which have developed high-quality practice for nursery and Reception children. This should display excellence in every aspect of care, learning and development for all children; provide inspirational environments; have an exemplary approach to staff development; and foster warm, supportive relationships with parents and carers.

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Open to settings where registered childminders are working with other childminders and/or assistants, including those registered as ‘childcare on domestic premises’. Your service should display excellence in every aspect of care, learning and development for all children; provide inspirational environments; and foster warm, supportive relationships with parents and carers.

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Open to any nursery manager in a full daycare or sessional setting who displays exemplary leadership and management skills in running their setting and providing the best possible service for children, families and staff.

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Open to senior employees of nursery groups working across some or all of the company’s settings, who display exemplary leadership and management skills in enabling consistent high quality across the nurseries for the benefit of children, families, staff and the group.

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Open to any qualified practitioner (Level 2 and above) working in an early years setting, in the maintained, private or voluntary sectors, including early years educators, room leaders, deputy managers, graduate practitioners and early years teachers.

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Open to individual registered childminders who work alone without assistants (except for voluntary assistants). You/your nominee should provide a well-run service; display excellence in every aspect of care, learning and development for all children; provide inspirational environments; and foster warm, supportive relationships with parents, carers, other childminders and your local community.

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Open to an individual or team responsible for early years and childcare training in colleges, training companies, as a consultant or in-house for nursery groups etc.

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For an ‘unsung hero’ – an early years practitioner whose long service and dedication in day-to-day work with young children are truly inspiring.

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Open to those undertaking an early years apprenticeship at any level, who show particular promise to be a star practitioner of the future.

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Open to any Early Childhood Studies degree graduate (or equivalent course that is mapped to the QAA SBS 2022) who has demonstrated exemplary practice in their field, providing the best possible service for young children and their families. Graduates from discontinued or re-branded courses are eligible to apply as long as their graduation year is in 2023.

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Open to early years settings, services and projects that have shown excellence in prioritising and improving the physical health and/or emotional wellbeing of children, families and staff.

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Open to early years settings who have developed elements of their provision to create stimulating, child-centred learning environments in line with the principles of the EYFS or other early years frameworks. This could be any aspect or area of the setting, including outdoor area, indoor environment, forest school, under-threes provision, movement play area, free flow, children’s access to self-chosen activities etc.

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Open to early years settings and services who are developing an eco-friendly approach in all aspects of their work, from management, resourcing, choice of materials, recycling and design, to educating young children about sustainable development.

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Open to settings, services or projects that support parents, enhance their understanding of their children’s learning and development, or improve children’s outcomes through involvement and co-operation with families. Services can include digital and online software used by early years settings.

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For an early years provision displaying exemplary practice in caring for and educating the youngest children, meeting their individual needs and supporting their development. This category is open to both individuals and groups.

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For a new launch of, or significant expansion to, an early years businesss or service since 1 January 2023.

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Open to early years and childcare services that have built a high-quality staff team through good practice in recruitment and retention, training and career development.

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Open to an early years setting, which can be part of a group, whose approach to and provision of food promotes children’s health and wellbeing. Menus should be healthy, nutritious and balanced, meeting the current national early years food and drink guidelines, Eat Better Start Better. Children should be supported to learn about making healthy choices and where their food comes from. Mealtimes and snack times should be well-planned, happy and sociable. Your setting must have a Food Hygiene Rating of 5.

If your setting is part of a chain, the individual nursery put forward for this award will be shortlisted, rather than the group as a whole.

Site Visits - Please note that after the judging has taken place, it is standard procedure for site visits to be carried out for the shortlisted nurseries by one of the judges for this category.

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Open to settings, services or projects that promote equality of opportunity and the best outcomes for all children, families and staff regardless of ethnic origin, special needs, background or disadvantage.

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Open to early years settings and services who have involved staff, parents and children in projects to support charities or the local/wider community.

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Open to early years providers (nurseries, schools, pre-schools and childminders) and services whose website and use of social media is informative, accessible and innovative.

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Open to professional books aimed at supporting the work of early years practitioners, managers and leaders, which have been published (or a new edition published) since 1 January 2023. You will be asked to supply review copies for judging. Details as to how to supply your books will be relayed after your entry has been submitted on our platform. If you would like to enter more than one book, each book will need to be added as a separate entry (and paid for separately) to your other submissions in this category.


Entry Deadline: Friday 3rd May

This category costs £99 to enter.

£ 99.00 +VAT (20%)
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This annual honour is decided and awarded by Nursery World. This category is not open for nominations.

Past winners include Dr Stella Louis, Laura Henry-Allain, Neil Leitch, Helen Moylett, Penny Tassoni, Julie Fisher, Wendy Scott, Tina Bruce and Chris Pascal.​

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