Melanie has over 10 years’ experience within childcare, where she has taken numerous senior roles, including as Nursery Manager, which was her last position prior to Little Birches.
The outdoors is where Mel thrives, she believes that children can learn so much within the natural world using the resources Mother Nature gave us.
Mel is extremely passionate about creating a calm and warm environment for the children to thrive, ensuring that each individual child has the opportunity to learn and develop with curiosity and integrity.
Along with Melanie’s level-4 childcare qualification, she is also trained in Makaton and teaches children how to use this in order for them to use simple commands.
Bringing the outside inside and creating a curiosity approach is something Little Birches is continually working towards, with Mel’s passion and appointment as Environment Mentor, we hope that your children will see the positive effects that a natural environment has in your child’s learning journey.
Director of Childcare
Denise has 20 years’ experience in a multitude of educational and childcare roles. Denise holds a Bachelors’ Degree (Honours) in Early Childhood Education as well as a Foundation Degree in Early Years. Her last role was at a local nursery and infant school (rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted), where Denise worked in various management positions for six years within the Early Years part of the school.
Denise is very creative and has particular experience in sensory, nurture rooms, and forest school. Denise feels that it’s essential to create exciting routines and activities that stimulate a child’s imagination, leading to scaffolding opportunities for little ones to learn further. Denise also has exceptional child interaction skills and has achieved notable success with children with learning and emotional difficulties, immersing them in an engaging and fulfilling learning journey.
She also has extensive experience supporting children with visual and hearing impairment and those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder and Pathological Demand Avoidance. Denise also has a British Sign Language Level-1 qualification.
Deputy Lead Mentor
Anna’s previous position was at a London University Nursery (rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted), where she held the position of Preschool Manager. She was at the setting for 13 years and managed a team of 14, ensuring that the highest possible standards of care were in place.
Anna’s main strengths revolve around her passion toward childcare and her dedication to creating a superior environment where children thrive and love their learning experience. Anna possesses exceptional creativity and specialises in planning a variety of exciting activities, including forest school, for the children.
In total, Anna has 23 years’ experience in childcare and also holds an NNEB diploma.
Cheryl began working in the preschool her daughter attended 20 years ago, which was graded “Outstanding” by Ofsted and Cheryl stayed here for 20 years, gaining a Level-3 in Early Childhood Education, until joining Little Birches.
She has extensive experience in Forest School. She is eager to pass on her knowledge, activities and fresh ideas to Little Birches and the children. Cheryl believes that the outdoor spaces offer endless learning opportunities for free play, fun and exploration. She is confident that children will learn vital new skills such as collaboration, communication and taking risks and that children will have the opportunity to learn and discover more about plants and animals, and our reliance on them. Cheryl endorses sustainability and that children should know as much about the natural world as they do about technology, as this will help them understand the ecosystem on which their future depends.
Cheryl is an advocate of bringing the outside indoors as it creates an element of calmness. One thing that Cheryl is really keen to begin is the development of the allotment and to start growing our own produce to use within the nursery, as snacks or in our dinners.
Julie has sixteen years’ experience in childcare and has been at our setting for the entirety of her career in Early Years. Julie has taken on various roles within the setting, ranging from practitioner to Deputy Manager.
Julie says that she’s often asked why she decided to work with children and the answer is simple. When she sees a child’s face light up with pride after they have achieved something, she knows that she gave that child a little bit more confidence to aim even higher.
Julie has the CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Children and Young Peoples Workforce and has also undertaken courses in: Safeguarding, Paediatric First Aid, Child Development, Speech and Language, and Promoting Positive Behaviour.
Kay has 15 years’ experience within childcare and joined us after Kay’s own daughter and son had left the setting to go to primary school (what better parental endorsement!). In addition to childcare, Kay has also run her own business and she applies her leadership and organisational skills to great effect with Little Birches.
In 2010, Kay undertook her NVQ Level-2 in ‘Children’s Care, Learning and Development’ and she also has qualifications in SIPS (support in pre-schools), ‘Behaviour Management’, ‘Writing IEPs’, ‘Small Group Activities’ and ‘Speech and Language’. She is also a qualified Paediatric First Aider and has undertaken the safeguarding course.
Keeley studied her level-3 Early Years Educator at a private school nursery. Keeley has worked with ages between 0 – 5 for numerous years. She also has experience volunteering at her dad’s local children centres in her free time. Keeley has taken additional training around special educational needs and this led her into wanting to work with children.
Keeley would like to expand her child care knowledge into further education at some point. Since joining Little birches, Keeley feels that she has increased her knowledge with regards to approaches to children’s learning and has learnt what a great impact our outdoor learning has on children.
Soo-Lian is our language and culture specialist and has 10 years’ experience working within childcare. Soo-Lian possesses exceptional creativity skills and has 2 years’ experience of teaching music and piano with children from 3 years of age onward.
Soo-Lian is also multi-lingual and loves sharing her passion for languages with the children. She speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkian, Malay, and of course, English.
Soo-Lian is degree educated (Bachelor of Science in Computing) and has a CACHE level-2 childcare qualification.
Maryna started her journey of working with young children in her children’s infant school and immediately realised that she wanted to work in the Early Years sector. Maryna has been working as an Early Years Practitioner for 7 years now.
She is a big advocate of play and learning through play. Maryna recognises that every child is unique and has their own way to learn and develop their skills and knowledge. She tries to work with every child according to their individual needs and interests.
Maryna values nature and natural, eco-friendly materials. She believes that in a natural environment while exploring the natural world around them and having fun, children develop holistically as well as build a strong foundation for future successful learning. Maryna believes nature gives us plenty of opportunities for building a mathematical and an early science knowledge base, developing children’s imagination, exercising curiosity, building problem-solving skills, and much more.
Maryna holds the Level-3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce as well as a Maths degree and a Maths teacher qualification.
Lana has been working in Early Years for numerous years, and holds a Level-3 qualification. She cared for children during Sunday School classes whilst growing up, and this experience led her to her decision to go into childcare. Lana would like to further her knowledge and understanding of children by studying for a degree in Early Childhood Education.
Lana was really excited to join Little Birches. She loves the idea of following the child’s interest and everything that we do is centred around the child. Forest school and our garden was a huge turning point as she believes there is so much space to encourage physical development. Lana loves the peaceful, calm environment and the fact that Little Birches has so many natural play areas for the children to create open-ended activities by using their imagination.
Lana hopes that her depth of knowledge will help the children who leave Little Birches have a meaningful understanding of the world, culturally and spiritually. She hopes to bring new ideas, innovations and experiences in order to develop their existing knowledge and understanding in a fun and friendly way.
Entela is fluent in 3 languages, English, Italian and Albanian. She has 4 years of experience working with children in the Early Years as well as having children of her own.
Entela is extremely passionate, patient, and caring. She believes it’s essential to provide children with a nurturing environment in order for them to feel secure in their environment. This will lead to children developing a high level of well-being and creates a feeling of involvement within the Little Birches community.
She believes a natural environment helps children to understand, develop and make sense of the world around them, and this is what attracted Entela to work at Little Birches. Entela feels that with questioning, modelling and understanding the individual child, she can scaffold the child’s learning to their next level of development.
Entela is currently studying towards a CACHE Level-3 in Early Years.
I have been working in childcare for 4 years and have worked in several different settings. I would love to pursue my career further by completing my level-3 qualification and potentially other qualifications too.
I have always enjoyed caring for children and have loved watching them grow over the years. Since joining Little Birches, it has helped me to widen my knowledge and understanding of how much children enjoy being outside in our natural environments e.g. forest school. I have always grown up around children, having a younger sister and also helping my stepmother with her childminding business, which was my inspiration to go into childcare.
Emily’s expertise originally lies in gymnastics where she competed for Great Britain. She holds a “Young Leaders” coaching qualification and volunteering qualifications, and she’s extremely passionate about physical development in the Early Years sector.
Alongside joining the Little Birches family, she will be competing in Manchester and DisneyLand next year. Emily hopes to bring her skills and passion to the children at Little Birches, enabling her to further promote her physical development and healthy lifestyle for all children. Emily is also very passionate about working with children with SEN and wants to learn everything she can whilst in a caring and nurturing environment.
Nell has a Level-6 degree in Midwifery and has an empathic approach to childcare and working with families from a range of backgrounds. She demonstrates emotional and mental strength with good observational skills, key to progressing the cognitive development of each child in her care. She is confident in promoting health and wellbeing and is able to provide valuable information and communicate effectively with families.
Nell comes from a small rural village in Devon, but has also travelled a lot and loves discovering cultures and different ways of living. She has always had a strong interest in prenatal and postnatal development and is keen to further understand how early experiences affect a child’s happiness, application to learning and physical development. Being a member of the Little Birches team enables Nell to observe, interact and support each child’s development with a holistic care based approach.
Emma started working in a SEN department in a primary school with her mother, which sparked her love for working within SEN education. She then decided to work within an early years setting.
Emma really enjoys helping the children prepare for ‘big school’ and seeing how all the children are positively impacted through their learning. Emma enjoys messy play and sensory activities and still has a passion for working with children with SEN.
Emma has always enjoyed the Little Birches environment and lives locally to the nursery, and as a younger child, went to the nursery herself. Emma has finished her A-levels, where she was studying music and dance, which is a reason for her love of being creative within the nursery setting.
Maria is driven by a lifelong passion for teaching. She holds a bachelor’s degree in
History and Archaeology alongside a master’s degree in Special Education and a
9-month training course in neurodevelopmental and sensory disorders.
In addition to this, she has embarked on her level 3 certification in early years education.
Her commitment to constantly developing her skills has led her to engage in practical
training at both a SEN and a secondary school, and she has experience with teaching a
great variety of ages, from 1 to 21 years of age. Maria is fluent in English and Greek, and she has a strong foundation in education, complemented by a diverse set of
experiences that fuel her dedication to fostering inclusive and impactful learning
Maria brings a deep passion for childcare and a commitment to creating a nurturing
environment where children can thrive in their learning journey. She takes great joy in
witnessing the pride on a child’s face after accomplishing something significant, as she
understands the profound impact it has on their confidence and overall development.
Cole’s passion for cooking began at a young age as he discovered he enjoyed baking. Cole has been a chef now for over 12 years and has worked in a variety of restaurant establishments. His young daughter used to attend Little Birches, so he knew the setting well before joining. He likes the way that Little Birches allows the
children to have autonomy over their learning, and the way the team enhances the children’s knowledge and understanding by developing their interests within the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Cole believes that children should have a healthy, well-balanced diet, providing the nutrition that they need whilst their bodies are growing. Cole prepares delicious and healthy meals regardless of allergies, intolerances, or cultural requirements.
Cole’s philosophy, when it comes to cooking, is you can always make something mouth-watering with the simplest of ingredients.