#ThumbsUpForEarlyYears aims to highlight the dedication and commitment shown by childcare workers across the country.

Private, voluntary and independent nurseries of all sizes alongside sector organisations have united to express their appreciation for the early years workforce.

To celebrate the outstanding efforts of early years educators, who have provided essential stability and support to families throughout the pandemic, the sector is asking members of the community including parents, children, colleagues and practitioners to share a photo of themselves today (Thursday) using the hashtag #ThumbsUpForEarlyYears.

Speaking on behalf of the group of early years providers, Sarah Steel, chair of the Large Providers Group, said, 'Our sector is one that relies on our people, we know that every experience a child has can be enhanced by a caring, knowledgeable practitioner.

'As individual organisations we've celebrated these "magic moments" and thanked our colleagues for always prioritising the children throughout the year. #ThumbsUpForEarlyYears provides us with a platform to come together and share our awe, thanks and heartfelt appreciation for all those working in early years whether they are a key person, a nursery manager or an apprentice. Today is the day to say - thank you, we think you're amazing.'

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive from the National Day Nurseries Association, said, 'We are delighted to be supporting this campaign and recognising the amazing contribution that early years workers are making to our communities. Everyone in the sector has been working so hard under very challenging circumstances. 

'Nurseries and early years settings have been open throughout the pandemic, including in the latest lockdowns. Without this support it's clear that children's early education would have suffered even more, and parents would have struggled, especially those working from home.

'This has been the most difficult year we have seen, and everyone deserves recognition for the hard work happening across the sector. Early years workers are making a real difference to children's lives so thank you all and well done.'

Ms Steel added, 'We hope that by sharing images alongside #ThumbsUpForEarlyYears, we will highlight just how many wonderful individuals work tirelessly to ensure children cared for by practitioners across our sector receive the very best start in life.'