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Specialist Practitioners

What is a Specialist Practitioner?

Acorns Teaching School have a number of specialist practitioners to support early years and KS1 practitioners in PVI settings and schools. These outstanding practitioners assist our SLE’s, drawing on their knowledge and expertise in their specialist area.


Clare Akers

Clare is an Early Years Practitioner at Woolenwick Infant and Nursery School. She has worked in Early Years for over 10 years with experience in pre-school, Nursery and Reception classes.

Clare feels very passionate about teaching, particularly Early Years, she draws on inspiration from Reggio Emilia. Clare has recently participated in an ‘International Study Week’ to Reggio Emilia, in Italy. The visit was a unique and wonderful opportunity to learn first-hand about the social and cultural context of the schools, visit preschools and infant toddler centres, and to be in dialogue with teachers, pedagogistas, atelieristas and also parents.

Clare believes children are story tellers who have a natural desire to tell stories about their daily experiences. She has developed her practice and provision by working alongside a professional storyteller on a variety of projects producing excellent outcomes for children.

Christina Anderson

Christina is the Inclusion Leader at Woolenwick Infant and Nursery School. She has led on a number of projects, branching out into the community with children from other schools and children’s centres.

Christina led the school to be the first infant school in Hertfordshire to achieve Green Flag status and, as Eco Lead, continues to inspire children to speak up, get involved and make changes.

Christina leads the Teaching Assistant team, overseeing interventions and managing a cohesive ethos. Christina is also the Mental Health Lead, joint Autism Spectrum Condition Lead and DSP.

Sally Hutchings

Sally is an Early Years Practitioner at Wormley Primary School, in Broxbourne. She has worked at Wormley for six years and previously at Dewhurst St Mary’s School in Cheshunt where she worked for eight years across all year groups, but mostly in the Early Years Phase.

Sally loves working in Early Years, and is passionate about fostering children’s love of learning by making their entry into school a happy, enthustiastic and effective one.

Sally recently completed a project to develop relationships through a community garden and now runs a gardening club after school and at lunchtimes. She is also a level 2 Forest School Leader and is working to promote effective outdoor learning.

Nikki Smith

Nikki qualified as a NNEB in 1989 and worked in Early Years ever since in a variety of different settings (Daycare, Maintained Nursery, Private Nanny, Hospital, Pre-school) In 2010 Nikki became Manager at Little Learners Pre-school, Waltham Cross and also signed up for a Foundation Degree. She obtained a BA hons in Early Years in 2016 and continue to be passionate about Early Years.

Nikki has a particular passion for SEN, particularly speech and language delay and enjoys finding new and innovative ways of working with the children in my care. She enjoys sharing her experiences with others and has spoken at a number of Pre-school Learning Alliance conferences.

Jane Jackson

Jane is dedicated to working within the Early Years sector. With over 25 years’ experience she has managed a pre-school,  supported in reception and key stage one within a primary school and lead practitioners whilst working in a Children’s Centre group which has enabled her to support  children under 5 and their families.  Jane is passionate about the health and well-being of children and has led on a number of projects which have been effective in supporting the community, pre-schools and schools.  Jane completed her Foundation Degree in 2010; the HertsCam Teacher Led Development Work (TLDW) in 2015 and in October 2018 passed her Master’s In Education, (M.Ed.) which continued to focus on her passion for good health, well-being and resilience for our young children.

Carol Laycock

Carol is a knowledgeable Early Years Practitioner who has gained a wealth of experience whilst working in both PVI and maintained settings. Carol is currently the Pre-School Lead at Peartree Way Pre-School, Nursery & Forest School in Stevenage. Carol has studied Early Years at degree level and is also a Level 3 Forest School Leader and utilises these skills to actively promote and encourage engagement with the outdoors.  Carol is passionate and committed in providing an inclusive environment where children are able to learn through play. Carol is particularly inspired by the ‘planning in the moment’ approach, ensuring children experience learning through their interests and inquisitiveness. Preschool sessions are child-led and totally free-flow, giving the children the choice of playing and learning both inside and outdoors.

Stacey Smith

Stacey has worked at Peartree Way Pre-School, Nursery & Forest School for just over 16 years.  Stacey is passionate about the importance of communication and language in Early Years and is keen to share her knowledge to enhance communication and language provision in all settings.  Stacey has extensive knowledge of Makaton, has her Level 1 in British Sign Language and starts her level 2 in September 2019.   Stacey provides support in a variety of ways including WellComm screening, specific target based intervention and creating visual aid recourses for all children, including those with EAL.

If you are interested in gaining accreditation as a Specialist Practitioner, please contact us.