Meet the manager: Donna Reid

In our series showcasing the sector’s nursery managers, we find out more about Donna Reid, nursery manager at My First Friends Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield and winner of ‘Nursery manager of the year’ at the National NMT Nursery Awards

What was your route to becoming a manager?

From a very early age I knew that I wanted to work in early years. As soon as I left school, I decided that an apprenticeship was the best path, as to learn on the job was always important to me. Since qualifying for my Level 3 in 2010 it has been a very natural progression for me gradually working my way to manager in 2019, after being deputy manager for three years.

What are you most proud of achieving as a manager?

My first Ofsted inspection as a manager back in 2022, the team and I were just thrilled to be awarded an Outstanding rating. And, of course, winning NMT’s ‘Nursery manager of the year’ was a huge accomplishment in such a highly competitive category. I still can’t quite believe it.

What’s the best thing about Wylde Green nursery?

We are an open plan nursery and have mixed ages of children together, aged between one and five. The open plan really benefits the children and their development and promotes their independence. The younger children thrive, learning from the older children around them, and the older children develop care and compassion towards the younger children. The free flow environment allows children to make choices about how they spend each day. We have a lot of siblings and cousins that attend the nursery, and it is lovely that they get to spend time together throughout their day even though they are different ages. This also benefits the staff and their professional development; they get to work with all ages of children consistently and I feel it has made us all a lot stronger and more confident practitioners.

What’s the best training you’ve had?

I am very passionate about supporting children with special educational needs and the importance of early identification, which is crucial to removing educational barriers. So I would have to say all the SEN training that I have completed over the years – it is difficult to pinpoint just one. They have all given me the knowledge, confidence, and tools to help support children to the best of my ability.

What’s the most challenging part of being a nursery manager?

I think as a manager, you have so many different hats to wear, sometimes there is just not enough time in the day to do everything.

Which three people would you invite to a dinner party?

Dolly Parton, as I love country music, Kevin Hart for comedic value and Tom Hardy for aesthetic reasons – and of course he is a very talented actor as well.

What do you do to look after yourself when things get stressful?

I think it is important to make the most of your free time, spending time with the special people in your life, socialising, having adventures. And for me, travelling is good for the body, mind and soul.

What is the one thing you would change about the early years sector?

I wish the sector was more recognised as a whole, it is very undervalued. It is the least well-funded phase of education but arguably the most important. The pay scale unfortunately does not represent the dedication and hard work of those in the sector.

What three things would you take to a desert island? My Kindle and something so I could listen to music and definitely suncream as I do tend to burn.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Keep thriving, keep pushing, persevere. Every day is a new opportunity, don’t wait to make things happen for you – take action.

Join our mailing list

Stay up to date with all our events, awards and publications.

Information you provide us with will be kept private at all times, and will be used for communication and research purpose only.