The Roots team of teachers and consultants put children at the heart of all our decisions. From SEN to curriculum design, we bring together our diverse set of skills to create an exceptional education, and we’re always ready to make the changes needed to give children the start they deserve.
Our heads, Gemma and Hayley, successfully transformed three struggling nurseries, and know how to make the tough decisions early years need to thrive. Find out more about them below.
Gemma is an experienced leader who, prior to the Federation of the three Nursery schools, She was originally the sole Headteacher of Muriel Green Nursery School in St Albans. Gemma has vast experience in Early Years leadership. She led the Foundation Stage at Laurence Haines primary school in Watford and was selected by the Local Authority to be a Leading Teacher. In this role she supported other schools across the County with improving their Early Years provision. She took on the Headship at Muriel Green Nursery in 2017 and at the same time achieved the national SENDCo award (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) Gemma began working at Oxhey Early Years in a consultancy role in January 2021 supporting the Headteachers in post at the time. She then had the vision to offer an opportunity for Heath Lane Nursery school in Hemel Hempstead to work in a collaboration. Gemma sits on the governing bodies of two maintained primary schools in Hertfordshire to ensure that she is up to date with educational ….beyond the early years. She also sits on a number of boards representing the voice of maintained nursery schools. Gemma is the SENCo for the schools and takes a lead on the business side.
Hayley is an experienced leader who, prior to the Federation of the three Nursery schools, was the sole Headteacher of Heath Lane Nursery School in Hemel Hempstead. Hayley has previously held the role of deputy Headteacher, with a responsibility for Early Years, at a three-form primary school in Stevenage. Prior to starting her headship at Heath Lane Nursery in 2019 she held the role of Early Years adviser at Herts for Learning; a quality improvement company commissioned by Hertfordshire County Council. In this role Hayley provided support in excess of 100 schools across Hertfordshire, and beyond, through providing consultancy and delivering training. Hayley sits on a governing body of a primary school and is a trustee of a multi academy trust in the county. Hayley takes a lead on the curriculum.
Daycare Manger Muriel Green
Senior Teacher and SENCo, Muriel Green
Oxhey Early Years
Sue has worked in early years for over 25 years. During this time, she practised in three pre-schools, and managed her own setting for fourteen years. Sue has been the daycare manager at Muriel Green for the last four years. Sue is adept at building high quality, trusting relationships with families, and supports new parents when they leave their children for the first time.
Vicki Wright – Senior Teacher Heath Lane
Vicki has taught in nursery schools across the country for eighteen years. She taught nursery and reception in a large multicultural primary school in London, then worked in a school in Chorleywood before moving to Heath Lane in 2016.
As Senior Teacher, she takes a lead on Heath Lane’s strategic operations, working closely with practitioners to maintain the quality of teaching. She also works with the Roots Federation headteachers, ensuring Heath Lane upholds the Federation’s long term visions and values.
Vicki is our Designated Safeguard Lead, and is responsible for new schemes like The Zones of Regulation and Talk for Writing.
“My favourite part of the job is watching children make progress across the year. I love seeing them happy and engaged, learning and exploring through play. A quality early years education can have a huge impact on children’s futures. Put simply - this is one of the most important jobs in the world!”
Georgie trained as a key stage two teacher, and spent the first four years of her career in a diverse, two-form entry primary school. She then moved into nursery and reception settings, and has been teaching at Muriel Green for four years.
Georgie wrote our maths and phonics curricula, and introduced Talk for Writing across the setting. She’s passionate about helping children with different needs access our curriculum, and has adapted our materials to all abilities.
Suzie Pilgrim - Heath Lane Nursery
Suzie has been an early years teacher in Hertfordshire for thirteen years. She worked as an Early Years Lead in a three-form-entry school, before going to be the Deputy Head of a large school. She’s an expert in phonics, the learning environment and the role of the adult in 'discover and do'. She also has a particular interest in early childhood brain development.
“I love introducing new initiatives, and measuring how much they help our children. It’s a joy to work alongside children in ‘discover and do’, and to be present for all the moments when children come alive with awe and wonder. I’m blessed to be part of such a wonderful, forward thinking team who are making a difference to children’s lives.”
As Foundation Stage Coordinator for a primary school in Borehamwood, Zahra raised the ‘Effectiveness of the Foundation Stage’ Ofsted grade to good. Then, in 2010, she oversaw the expansion of a reception class from one-form to two-form entry.
In 2014, Zahra was asked to lead a project to develop a reception class outdoor learning environment. Her work received special mention in that year’s Ofsted report. In 2015, as a nursery teacher and EYFS leader in a primary school in St Albans, Zahra improved the standard of the early years. The Annual Review report from 2021 noted her changes were examples of ‘outstanding practice'. In 2021, Zahra won the South East Prestige Award for ‘2020/2021 Children’s Education Specialist of the Year’, recognising her support for families and children during the pandemic. She also volunteered in the community as a Year Three Teacher, Early Years Committee Member, Early Years Chairperson and Board Member responsible for Early Childhood Education and Development.
“The most rewarding part of the job is getting to know the children, so you can scaffold their learning through their interests, creating moments of awe and wonder. I love making challenging, supportive, high quality learning environments, which stimulate their lively, curious minds.