AWARDS 2021 INDIVIDUALS
Nursery Practitioner of the Year Sarah Dickinson, SEND to Learn Blyth
Sarah has so many skills and strengths, taking responsibility for leading as a health advocate,
cook, caring for children with SEND and supporting families in need”
SEND to Learn specialises in supporting children and families who face extensive and complex barriers to learning, and as deputy manager Sarah is a driving force in developing the provision. Her enthusiasm and passion for her work means there is no role in nursery life she is not happy to fulfil.
Sarah has worked extensively on developing the curriculum to suit all children, and has helped staff adapt their training to suit individual children’s needs.
As the setting’s health advocate, she has supported both staff and children with well-being and mental health in a variety of ways. She has introduced well-being appraisals for staff alongside sensitive and fun campaigns to promote health improvement.
She has also guided staff through the Bronze and Silver Better Health at Work Awards, helping the nursery win an Outstanding Achievement award and gaining the Health Advocate of the Year award in the local region. Sarah has also recently become the setting’s domestic violence champion to enable her to expand the support she provides.
Recently, Sarah also introduced a therapy dog to the setting. Cooper has had a hugely positive effect on children and staff ’s well-being and lives full-time with Sarah, so she has taken on all the responsibilities for
HIGHLY COMMENDED Deana Frost, Townhouse, Village Nursery Group, Manchester Known as ‘Tigger’, Deana is always full of energy and bounces around the setting spreading excitement and motivation to children, staff and parents alike.
She has worked at Townhouse for nine years, joining as an apprentice before working her way up to oversee a 20-place toddler room and a team of six.
A huge advocate for the outdoors, Deana encourages her children to find every learning opportunity in the natural world, organising activities including yoga sessions, minibeast hunts, plant growing and lots of physical challenges whatever the weather.
Children and families adore Deana, and during the pandemic in particular she helped nurture these relationships by arranging Zoom calls for children to see their friends while enjoying stories, songs and activities. She also welcomed parents in the nursery garden to discuss children’s progress and provide support and advice.
his care, including training, in her own time.
During the pandemic, Sarah continued to work despite a compromised immune system. She stood in for the nursery cook when they were off sick, and has put together nutritious menus for everyone to enjoy.
She set up a Christmas support shop where deprived families from the nursery and the local community could come and take gifts, toys, clothing and toiletries free of charge. Sarah also provided respite care for families who were struggling to cope during the pandemic. This included helping one of the setting’s students secure accommodation after leaving foster care, and another local family partly furnish their home.
She can also regularly be found taking on the role of nursery ‘handyman’, fixing equipment, creating new resources and developing existing ones. Sarah is also responsible for overseeing nursery finances.
FINALISTS Charlotte Crenell, Tiddlywinks, Manchester Emma Hardman, Quays Pre-School, Village Nursery Group, Manchester
CRITERION Open to any qualified practitioner working in an early years setting, in the maintained, private or voluntary sectors.
18 | NurseryWorld Awards www.nurseryworld.co.uk