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Our Team 


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 Leadership

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.

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Gemma Williamson

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.

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Hayley Yendell

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. 

Sue Wells
Daycare Manger Muriel Green

Suzie Pilgrim
Senior Teacher Muriel Green
Curriculum Lead

Zahra Boyd

Senior Teacher,

Oxhey Early Years

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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.


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.

Vicki Wright – Senior Teacher Heath Lane


Emma Mitchell
Senior Teacher Heath Lane

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Mandy West - 
Finance Manager 

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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!” 

Emma graduated from the University of Brighton with a BA Hons in Primary Educetion specialising in the EYFS and English. She starts at Heath Lane after nearly a decade working with two early years settings across Hertfordshire, working in both Nursery and Reception classes as well as some experience in KS1 early on in her career. 
She has experience leading a range of subjects from PE as well as most recently Early Reading and phonics. She has been crucial when implementing new initiatives and developing the curriculum in her previous school as Early Years Leader before starting Maternity leave.
Emma will be working closely with the Federation leaders and existing Senior teachers to continue to build upon the progress and successes of the Nursery in her role as senior teacher.



Mandy has worked in finance all her adult life and joined the federation administration team in September 2022 working across all three setting.  Prior to this Mandy worked for a short period at Herts For Learning as a School Financial Adviser where she worked alongside both Muriel Green and Heath Lane Schools in addition to other schools in Hertfordshire.  Before that she worked in industry where she spent the previous 27 year's working within the Finance Team at the Head Offices of a global engineering manufacturing company where she held the position of Head Office Accountant.

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Chloe Reade –Deputy Day Care Manager  Muriel Green

Clare Herbert - Inclusion Leader 

Michelle - Lead Administrator

Chloe has been working with children since she left school in 2015. She initially started as a children's entertainer in a soft play centre and has never lost that ability to engage children though fun and laughter! She then joined the team at Muriel Green as an Early Years Practitioner. Since then, she has worked in every room with children from babies to the Nursery school. Her ability to work strategically and efficiently with a great understanding of child development made her the perfect choice to join the senior leadership team as the Deputy Day Care Manager! She has a passion for working with all children but has an expertise with children with additional needs and has supported staff across the federation with ensuring children with hearing impairment receive high quality provision

Clare has worked in primary education for over 20 years. She began her career in Newcastle and Atlanta, USA, although she has spent the majority of her in Hertfordshire schools. She worked as a senior leader and head teacher in several schools. She has also worked to support teachers across schools in Hertfordshire as an Advanced Skills Teacher and a Continued Professional Development Lead. 


Clare holds a doctorate in education from The University of Cambridge. Her research focuses upon school improvement, in particular developing professional capital through the Lesson Study cycle. She has supported many teachers to further their academic studies and has tutored on the HertsCam masters program. 


Clare is passionate about inclusion and supporting children and their families to experience success. She prioritises this through her roles as senior teacher at Muriel Green Nursery (two days a week) and Inclusion Leader for Roots Federation (three days a week). 

With a diverse background spanning finance and admin roles in education and the mobile phone sector, I've spent the last 5 years mastering the art of catering. Beginning my journey at Woolworths, I've developed a wide spread set of skills to support the varied roles of the team within the Federation. Personally, I cherish my role as a mum to two boys and a proud houseplant enthusiast.

“It’s a pleasure to support and watch as the children settle in, making new friends and getting their first sense of community. I love the depth and breadth of our curriculum - how it keeps children engaged and excited to learn. It’s so rewarding to see children and staff succeed and achieve where they thought they couldn't.” Sue Wells

“I enjoy sharing my passion for early years with the rest of my team, giving them the tools and resources to teach children well. I love watching our children flourish into happy, confident learners who are always discovering new things.” Georgie Gladdy

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