The International Montessori Awards

The International Montessori Awards, launched by the Montessori Group, acknowledge excellence within the early years and primary/elementary education and recognise efforts to make it a diverse and inclusive sector, celebrating individuals learning, working in, and promoting a Montessori-inspired approach to education as well as organisational contributions towards giving children the best start.

The awards follow the collaboration between the Montessori Group and Leeds Beckett University to create the International Montessori Institute, which is providing the UK’s first dedicated undergraduate through to postgraduate courses leading to PhD and Professorship level study in Montessori education.

Cash prizes will be awarded to settings, researchers, practitioners, support staff and children from around the world across five categories.

The awards are open to anyone working in early years or primary/ elementary education – they do not have to be Montessori but should promote a commitment to quality education and support for social and emotional learning.

A special Commitment to Sustainability award will honour children who have shown a passion for and dedication to protecting the environment.

Winners will be announced at a special virtual awards ceremony.

The 5 Award Categories Are:

  1. New Researcher of the Year – the winner will receive a £2,000 prize and a place on the 2022 Editorial Board for our new international journal for Montessori practice
  2. Support Staff of the Year (e.g. cooks, chefs, caretakers, cleaners, administrators)– the winner will receive a £2,000 prize
  3. Outstanding Contribution to Montessori in practice – the winner will receive a £2,000 prize
  4. Placement Setting of the Year – the winner will receive a £2,000 prize
  5. Commitment to Sustainability Award – this special award will be presented to a child who has shown a dedication and passion for protecting the environment. All shortlisted nominees and the settings that supported their projects will each receive a £200 prize with the overall winner receiving a special cash prize for their setting plus the opportunity to have their contribution recognised publicly
SEE CRITERIA FOR EACH CATEGORY

Within these categories, the awards will aim to celebrate the high standards of effort, determination and commitment that can be found within every individual who makes positive learning experiences for young people possible, from academic researchers to practitioners and support staff.

Request your nomination pack by email by clicking the button below.

Get Your Nomination Pack

The shortlisted candidates will be judged by our Guest Judges that include:

  • Anne Longfield, former Children’s Commissioner
  • Annabel Karmel, the UK’s number one children’s cookery author
  • Geeta Sidhu-Robb, CEO, Coach, Author, Entrepreneur and Board Chair of Montessori St Nicholas
  • Doug Wills, Managing Editor of Evening Standard
  • Dominic Regester, Programme Director of Salzburg Global Seminar
  • Chris Willemsen, Sr. Brand Export Manager and Brand Ambassador, Nienhuis Montessori
  • Ian Mearns MP, Member of Parliament for Gateshead

The shortlist will be selected by a panel of experts from the Montessori Group:

  • Bella Barron, Director of The Parent Collaborative and a Trainer Consultant for Young Minds
  • Amira El Aghel, graduate of Montessori Centre International and a Montessori teacher,
  • Leonor Stjepic, CEO of the Montessori Group
Meet The Judges

Geeta Sidhu-Robb, Chair of the Board of Montessori St Nicholas, an arm of the Montessori Group, and 2021 judge, says:

“I’m incredibly excited to celebrate the stories and successes of our community across the globe, and everyone who makes education possible. From practitioners and support staff, through to the academic researchers at the International Montessori Institute, we’re all working towards the goal of providing the best education possible for children around the world, and I look forward to being able to recognise the hard work achieved by all.”

Leonor Stjepic, CEO of the Montessori Group, says:

“We are so pleased to be able to announce the launch of our new awards and reveal our panel of judges for 2021, who will review each nomination and delight in hearing stories and experiences from around the world.  I am particularly looking forward to hearing what children have been doing. It’s been a tough year for everyone, so we’re excited to open the nominations for our awards and show our appreciation for everyone in the education community”.

What you need to know:

Anyone may submit a nomination either for themselves or their settings/school/early years education provider, or on behalf of someone else. Applications for 2022 nominations will be open early next year.

Contact us here for a nomination pack: awards@montessori.org.uk

Shortlisted finalists will be asked to provide a short, filmed submission to support their nomination and provide a glimpse into the impact they have on the lives of children every day.

Winners will be announced at our 2022 awards ceremony, at the annual IntoMontessori conference event.

Award Category Criteria

This award is open to anyone who is currently completing or recently completed work within professional or academic insight projects and / or collaborations leading to sector or academic developments and/ or publications. In the case of those with publishing experience, earliest authored material must be within the last 3 years.

Judges will look for:

  • Someone who really makes an impact on a project through their creativity, ideas and ability to improve a given brief through the quality and invention of their thinking
  • Evidence of outstanding personal achievement in handling research projects/ project involvement, showing creativity, relevance to brief and results.
  • Evidence of sharing knowledge and skills with other colleagues.

Entry format:

The judges require a 500-word statement (which may include weblinks for examples of material/ evidence of impact) outlining why you should win the award. In addition, you must provide two 100-word support statements from colleagues or professional contacts involved in the work or for whom the work has made a direct impact.

Your statements should be emailed to awards@montessori.org.uk before 4th June 2021. Please also complete and include the nomination form from the nomination pack.

This award is to recognise the dedicated support staff across schools, settings and education providers who inspire children and help to create rich, engaging and rewarding learning experiences through their invaluable contribution each and every day. The award is open to all support staff including, but not limited to, teaching assistants, office staff, caretakers, cleaning staff, activity coordinators and supervisors, cooks, chefs, kitchen staff and business support… the list goes on!

Judges will look for:

  • Evidence of commitment to enhancing everyday experiences for children and their learning environments.
  • Someone who makes an impact and is integral to their educational community.
  • Evidence of sharing knowledge and skills with other colleagues and members of the community.

Entry format:

The judges require a 500-word statement (which may include weblinks for examples of material/ evidence of impact) outlining why you should win the award. In addition, you must provide two 100-word support statements from colleagues or professional contacts involved in the work or for whom the work has made a direct impact.

Your statements should be emailed to awards@montessori.org.uk before 4th June 2021. Please also complete and include the nomination form from the nomination pack.

This award is designed to enable our communities to show our appreciation and gratitude to those who work tirelessly to promote and champion Montessori in practice. Nominees are successful in enhancing learning and teaching experiences for children and colleagues and celebrate their achievements together with their wider communities. Family, friends, children or other related parties can nominate you. Judges will look for: 

  • Evidence of long-standing engagement with excellence in educational practice and the Montessori Approach 
  • Evidence of impactful contributions to the lives of children and communities relevant to teaching and learning experiences. 

Entry format: 

The judges require a 500-word statement (which may include weblinks for examples of material/ evidence of impact) outlining why you should win the award. In addition, you must provide two 100-word support statements from colleagues or professional contacts involved in the work or for whom the work has made a direct impact. Your statements should be emailed to awards@montessori.org.uk before 4th June 2021. Please also complete and include the nomination form from the nomination pack.

Settings come in all types and contexts – pre-school providers, home-based educators, nurseries, schools, child-minders, and this year, this award seeks to specifically recognise educational providers that manage to provide a nurturing, structured learning environment that helps trainee staff and students to gain confidence in practice and enjoy hands-on experiences within the sector. 

Judges will look for evidence of: 

  • Students and trainee staff being properly supported with scheduled time for reflection and time to practise relevant skills. 
  • Guidance for students and trainees to ensure they experience a thorough learning journey and are supported to practise skills and develop their knowledge in collaboration with wider staff teams. 
  • Students and trainee staff being offered integrated experiences with the wider staff teams, helping to create valuable learning experiences during their time in practice. 
  • Tailored learning opportunities to meet the needs of particular students and trainee staff and ensure developing confidence as experience in the setting progresses. 

Entry format: 

The judges require a 500-word statement (which may include weblinks for examples of material/ evidence of impact) outlining why you should win the award. In addition, you must provide two 100-word support statements from colleagues or professional contacts involved in the work or for whom the work has made a direct impact. Your statements should be emailed to awards@montessori.org.uk before 4th June 2021. Please also complete and include the nomination form from the nomination pack.

This special award will be presented to a child who has shown a dedication and passion for protecting the environment. All shortlisted nominees and the settings that supported their projects will each receive a £200 prize with the overall winner receiving a special cash prize for their setting plus the opportunity to have their contribution recognised publicly. 

This is a prize awarded annually to young people taking actions to bring sustainable solutions to our planet. The prize celebrates and sheds light on young innovators, entrepreneurs, changemakers and conservators in order to spread hope and inspire others. 

Family, friends, teachers or other related parties can nominate you. You can also nominate yourself. 

Judges will look for: 

  • Evidence of an exciting, impactful project 
  • An initiative/ invention/ innovation that has been designed to develop and enhance a specific issue, challenge or area of particular focus relevant to supporting the environment, locally, regionally, nationally or globally 
  • Evidence of students actively seeking to understand and learn more about issues including, but not limited to, climate change, the environment, nature and/or animals. 

Entry format: 

The judges require a 500-word statement (which may include weblinks for examples of material/ evidence of impact) outlining why you should win the award. In addition, you must provide two 100-word support statements from colleagues or professional contacts involved in the work or for whom the work has made a direct impact. 

Your statements should be emailed to awards@montessori.org.uk before 4th June 2021. Please also complete and include the nomination form from the nomination pack.

Meet your 2021 International Montessori Award Judges

Please note: The judges for next years Awards (2022) will be shown below as soon as they are announced.

Guest Judges

Anne Longfield
Anne Longfield Former Children’s Commissioner
From March 2015 to February 2021, Anne Longfield was Children’s Commissioner for England and previously led a national children’s charity. Anne remains a passionate champion for children, influencing and shaping the national debate and policy agenda for children and their families. As Children’s Commissioner, Anne spent six years championing the rights and interests of children with those in power who make decisions about children’s lives, acting as children’s ‘eyes and ears’ in the corridors of power in Whitehall and Westminster. During the Covid-19 pandemic she ensured that children’s experiences were heard, urging the Government to make sure that schools were the last to close and the first to open. Over recent years Anne has worked on issues affecting children’s wellbeing, putting forward proposals that give children more power over their digital lives and publishing regular research on the experiences of children in care.
Annabel Karmel
Annabel KarmelThe UK’s number one children’s cookery author
Annabel is the UK’s No.1 children’s cookery author and a pioneer of the way families feed their babies and children. With a career spanning over 25 years, the London born mother of three is credited with starting a food revolution with her trusty recipes and methods. She is a best-selling international author, and the mother of all feeding experts with 45 cookbooks (and counting). With the sole mission of raising the standards of children’s diets, Annabel is a regular media commentator on food-related issues, and she regularly undertakes consultancy work for major nursery chains, leisure resorts, restaurants, and hotels worldwide. In 2006, Annabel received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her outstanding work in the field of child nutrition, and she has since become recognised as one of the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs.
Geeta Sidhu-Robb
Geeta Sidhu-RobbCEO, Coach, Author, Entrepreneur and Board Chair of Montessori St Nicholas
Geeta Sidhu-Robb is an author, inspirational speaker, CEO and Founder of Nosh Detox. Her frequent appearance on Radio and National TV has given her a strong media profile as an expert on Natural Health Solutions. Geeta gave up her career as a corporate lawyer to set up her own business, Nosh Detox in 2008, after her son’s severe food allergies, eczema, asthma and anaphylaxis as a baby led her to retrain as a Raw Chef and functional nutritionist. Geeta has taken home Entrepreneur and Business Women of the Year awards in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2019. Her strong skills in business development and her entrepreneurial acumen have seen Nosh grow from a start-up to a multi-award winning wellness empire that now consists of a group of companies including Nosh Raw and Nosh Infusion.
Doug Wills
Doug Wills Managing Editor of Evening Standard
Doug has been with the Evening Standard for 30 years, 15 as managing editor and 10 of those as Group Managing Editor including the Independent. He was appointed Editor Emeritus in December 2020. Doug trained in journalism with Thomson Regional Newspapers in Berkshire, went on to be the political correspondent for the Western Daily Press in Bristol before cutting his editorial management teeth as a deputy editor back with Thomson newspapers. Doug is on the board of the Society of Editors and is chair of London Press Club. Doug has been a member of Rotary for more than 40 years and is currently assisting Rotary International and the Commonwealth on their environmental presentations for Cop26. Doug is also a liveryman with the Stationers & Newspaper Makers and is a member of their executive Council.
Chris Willemsen
Chris WillemsenSr. Brand Export Manager and Brand Ambassador, Nienhuis Montessori
For more than 15 years Chris has been working as a Sr. Brand Export Manager and Brand Ambassador for World’s leading Montessori material manufacturer, Nienhuis Montessori. He is responsible for the international sales network, is leading the product development team and provides the marketing team with ideas and content. He has an international marketing background and is Montessori-trained at both 3 – 6 and 6 – 12 levels. While visiting and participating in many international Montessori conferences, Chris collected a lot of additional information about the Montessori philosophy and history and built a huge international network. His direct working area is Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania and next to this he supports the subsidiaries in China and USA. While travelling in the world of Montessori he has observed Montessori education in many different cultures, varieties, and standards. Currently he is also supporting the development of an innovative and evidence-based observation and record keeping tool to keep track of the development of knowledge and skills of children in Montessori environments, an application called Cfolio.
Ian Mearns MP
Ian Mearns MPMember of Parliament for Gateshead
Ian Mearns has been Member of Parliament for Gateshead since 2010. He was also Councillor for the Saltwell Ward in Gateshead from 1983 until 2010. As a Councillor Ian was a member of the Council’s Education Committee which he Chaired from 1993 until 2000 and was lead member for Education and children’s services from 2000 until he became Deputy Leader of the Council in 2002. In addition, Ian chaired the Board of Tyneside Careers until the creation of Connexxions and served on the National Board of the Careers Service National Association. Ian was a member of the Education Committee on the Association of Metropolitan Authorities AMA and then joined the Education Executive of the Local Government Association LGA. He has served continuously as a school governor since 1983, including a spell as governor of Gateshead College, and still is Chair of Governors of Kelvin Grove Primary School close to where he lives in central Gateshead. Since being elected to Parliament in 2010 Ian has served continuously on the Education Select Committee is the Committee’s longest serving member. He also Chairs the All Part Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Teaching Profession as well as Chairing or being a member of several other APPG’s in Parliament.
Dominic Regester
Dominic RegesterProgramme Director of Salzburg Global Seminar
Dominic Regester joined Salzburg Global Seminar as a program director in March 2017. He is responsible for designing, developing and implementing programs on education, conservation, and the future of cities. Prior to this he worked for the British Council for 14 years, primarily on projects connected to global citizenship education, teacher professional development, education collaboration and internationalism in education. He has an M.A. in Chinese studies from the School of Oriental and African studies in London and an M.A. in education and international development from University College London Institute of Education. Dominic is a founding member of the Executive Committee for Karanga – The Global Alliance for Social Emotional Learning and Life Skills, a contributing editor to Diplomatic Courier and a Director of Amal Alliance. He is the co-editor of two recent books Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined: Thoughts and Responses from Education’s Frontline During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond (2020) and Social and Emotional Learning across the Mediterranean: Cross Cultural Perspectives and Approaches (2020).

Short Listing Judges

Bella Barron
Bella BarronDirector of The Parent Collaborative and a Trainer Consultant for Young Minds
Bella Barron is the Director of The Parent Collaborative, a parent support initiative based in Bath, and a Trainer Consultant for Young Minds, a leading UK charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health. Bella is a highly accomplished Montessorian, with 27 years of teaching experience in global Early Years settings including in the UK, Canada and Kenya, with her settings consistently graded Outstanding by ISI and Ofsted regulatory bodies.
Leonor Stjepic
Leonor StjepicCEO of the Montessori Group
Leonor is an award-winning social enterprise entrepreneur, whose career has spanned both the private and NGO sectors. She is Chief Executive of the Montessori Group. Prior to this role, Leonor was CEO of the medical research institute, RAFT. Leonor spun out a commercial company called Smart Matrix Ltd, from RAFT raising $8m in social investment. This has been widely used as a case study in how to avoid risk in social investment. Leonor has also had a number of Non-Executive roles and is often asked to speak at international conferences on leadership and entrepreneurship. Leonor mentors a number of young professionals at different levels of their careers.
Amira El Aghel
Amira El AghelGraduate of Montessori Centre International and a Montessori teacher
Amira is a graduate of MCI, having studied both the EYE Diploma and Foundation degree. Amira originally graduated from the University of Tripoli with a degree in French. Her work with children started as an EAL teacher, teaching English to children in Libya. She then worked as a teaching assistant to various age groups, with a focus on nursery at the British School of Tripoli. As a mother of four, Amira’s childcare experience started at home, leading her to explore the field of childcare and child development. Seeing her younger two boys flourish at Montessori settings compared to their older siblings whose early years’ experience was in Libya, Amira was inspired to become a Montessori teacher.

NOMINATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED for 2021.

Please check back for information on how to apply for our 2022 International Montessori Awards.