New Year Honours 2023: Professor Cathy Nutbrown made a Dame


Nutbrown is a professor at the School of Education at the University of Sheffield and renowned in the sector for leading a review into early years qualifications.

She is also president of the British Association of Early Childhood Education.

Commenting on receiving the honour, Professor Nutbrown told Nursery World, ‘I see our research in early childhood education at the University of Sheffield recognised in this award.

‘I want to thank colleagues for their involvement and sustained collaboration over several decades. Working with so many committed professionals around the country who work with families to enhance their young children’s early learning is a great privilege.’ 

In 2012 she reported on her influential review of early years and childcare qualifications (The Nutbrown Review) and was awarded Nursery World’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

Nutbrown began her career as a nursery teacher and has since worked in a range of settings and roles.

She established the University of Sheffield MA in Early Childhood Education in 1998 and a Doctoral Programme in Early Childhood Education in 2008. In 2010 she contributed to the Tickell Review of the EYFS.

Professor Nutbrown added, ‘There is still much to do in terms of early childhood education policy and practice so that those who work with young children are well qualified and rewarded, and young children experience high quality early childhood education and care. As President of the British Association of Early Childhood Education it is particularly apt to receive such recognition as the charity marks its centenary year.’

Beatrice Merrick, chief executive, Early Education, said, ‘We’re thrilled to see our president, professor Cathy Nutbrown, has been made a Dame in the year’s New Year Honours list. 

‘This is much deserved for Cathy’s tireless work advocating for the best interests of young children and championing the vital role of the early years workforce. It is also a positive message about the importance of the early years sector. Cathy’s landmark report into the early years workforce is still the benchmark for the workforce strategy the  government should be putting in place to raise the status and quality of the sector.’

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said, ‘Professor Cathy Nutbrown has contributed greatly towards high quality in early years education and care, so we are delighted she has been made a Dame in the New Year Honours list. We have worked alongside her on her influential review of early years qualifications and hope to see that commitment to high quality maintained in future policy developments for the sector.’

Merrick added that she was delighted that MBEs have also been awarded to Chris Lewis, former headteacher of Children’s House Nursery School in Tower Hamlets and Veronica Hilliard, executive headteacher, Golborne and Maxilla Children’s Centres, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. 

‘We should celebrate all such public recognition of the impact they early years practitioners have on young children’s lives,’ she said.

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, co-founder and chair of the Ella Roberta Family Foundation, who campaigns for cleaner air, has been made a CBE for services to public health.

Also recognised in the New Year Honours list is Professor Adam Bodison, the former chief executive of nasen (the National Association for Special Educational Needs), who has been awarded an OBE for his work with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Childminder Amanda Foley who runs Amanda’s Childminding in Immingham has been awarded an OBE for services to early years education in Lincolnshire.

And Carolyn Stidston, founder of CS Nursery Schools has been awarded an OBE for services to education.

Others awarded honours for contributions to childcare and education include:

  • Peter Offord Davies has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his work as a reading volunteer at Dean Valley Community Primary School and is also the oldest recipient of an honour at 100-years-old.
  • Shirley Irlam, a lunchtime supervisor at Wistaston Academy in Crewe’s received a BEM for services to education.
  • Christian Upton, the headteacher of Tarleton Community Primary School in Preston, Lancashire and has been made an OBE for services to education.



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