The 30 September saw nursery professionals from up and down the country come together to celebrate the best of the industry at the Nursery World Awards 2023. And what a celebration it was!

Birmingham Day Nurseries had a bumper year with not one but three award nominations! The Oaks was shortlisted for Nursery of the Year while our three nurseries were recognised for their commitment to creating enriching and exciting outdoor learning experiences with a spot on the Enabling Environment award shortlist.

The Oaks’ David Heard is Nursery World’s Practitioner of the Year for 2023.
The Oaks’ David Heard is Nursery World’s Practitioner of the Year for 2023.


The real highlight though was seeing The Oaks’ very own David Heard, Senior Practitioner, was crowned Practitioner of the Year. David joined The Oaks as a practitioner in 2015 and has been on an incredible journey of growth and development since then. Over the last eight years, he’s proved an invaluable member of the team, helping to enhance the nursery experience for every child.

For example, he has embedded sensory sound bath sessions and peer-on-peer massage into The Oaks’ preschool routine and has been the driving force behind the nursery’s weekly wellbeing walks, providing children with multiple outlets for relaxation and mindfulness.

Along with his ingenuity, David has been praised for his ‘positive, caring, and professional approach’, championing every child in his care, and his ‘infectious’ enthusiasm for early years education. An ‘ambassador for men in childcare’, he has also been recognised for going the extra mile to ensure every child feels at home at nursery and can get the most from their time with us.

The Birmingham Day Nurseries team on awards night.


“I’m just extremely grateful for the nomination and the amazing words and support given by everyone”, says David. “I’m blown away by the amount of praise and well-wishes from our parents and both lost for words and over the moon that I won. I’m so proud to bring this award home for The Oaks”.

The accolade comes as no surprise to Rebecca Slater, Nursery Manager of The Oaks. “Everything David does he does with his own initiative and with little support,” she said. “If he thinks something will benefit our children and families, he’ll do it. He never wants recognition, he simply wants what’s best for our children and, because of that, he truly is our nursery’s unsung hero”.

It’s onwards and upwards for David from here. Since being crowned Practitioner of the Year, he has gone on to become The Oaks’ Deputy Manager, a role that will see him support top-level decision-making and help mould The Oaks’ approach to childcare.