Our Team

The Acorn Nursery School consists of a team of competent, committed, caring and experienced employees.

Allow us to introduce them to you on this page.

Pauline Crowder


Head of Nursery and Ofsted Registered Person


Diploma Pre-School Practice

City and Guilds Early Years Practitioner (324 & 365)

NVQ 3 Child Care and Education

SENDCo Trained

Paediatric 1st Aid Trained


I started Acorn Nursery in 1990 to provide, what I considered to be, a perfect environment of learning through play for my, then, 2-year-old daughter, my youngest of three children. I’ve seen many changes over the years in the Early Years sector but our ethos remains the same now, as it was then, to provide a Safe, Nurturing and Exciting environment in which children can develop key skills and become confident learners. I have a wonderful job, as there’s no greater reward than teaching children. I’m fortunate to have an amazing team of dedicated and committed staff, who also are great fun to work with.

In my free time I enjoy hill walking, especially in the Scottish Highlands, Kayaking, Pilates and keeping fit. I’m also attempting to learn golf! I enjoy my Book Club and a very sociable monthly pub quiz. I love spending time with my family and friends.

Suzanne Sandell


Nursery Manager


·         BSc (French, German, Economics)

·         Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)/QTS

·         Early Years Teacher (EYP)

·         Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)

·         Paediatric First Aid trained


After teaching French for several years, I graduated into Early Years when my own children came along.  It’s an area which I have always found immensely rewarding.  I have worked in a number of very different settings as Early Years Teacher and more recently, for many years, as Nursery Manager.  I love seeing children develop, flourish and become confident learners and am passionate about ensuring the learning environment, both indoors and outdoors, is right for each child to achieve their full potential.  I'm excited  to be part of this 'Outstanding' Early Years setting and I’m delighted that Acorn has embraced ‘Le Club Français Acorn’   (The Acorn French Club), to inspire young children to love languages as I do’


In my spare time I enjoy swimming, gardening  and walking in the beautiful Surrey countryside.

Wendy Hastie


Room Leader in Catkins and Squirrels

Nursery Deputy Manager


Behaviour Management Lead

Data Protection Officer


Qualifications: NVQ 3 in Children's Care, Learning and Development.

Paediatric 1st Aid Trained



I began working with children in 2006 when I joined a day care nursery in London.  I quickly came to love the nursery environment and re-trained from Human Resources Management to gain my Childcare qualification. Children's boundless energy and eagerness to learn is truly infectious and a joy to be part of.  I'm delighted to be part of the extremely friendly and very professional team at Acorn Nursery.  I  was excited to discover that Acorns has a Forest School area as I support the Forest School lead at my own children's school and really enjoy it and recognise the value of outside learning.  In addition to my role with Acorn Nursery I volunteer at my children's school as a parent reader and help with various PTA roles.  In my spare time I enjoy walking my dog, cooking and reading.


Sharon Gardner


Nursery Deputy Manager

Early Years Practitioner in Acorns

Deputy DSL



Scottish Nursery Education Board (SNEB)

Paediatric 1st Aid Trained


I trained and qualified as an Early Years Practitioner in Scotland in 1989. I moved to England in 1991 to work with children in a Special Educational Needs Boarding School, which was a challenging but immensely rewarding job. The first of my three children started at Acorn in 2002, I was delighted to join the Acorn team shortly after that. The children are always such a joy to teach and care for. It’s a super environment to work in and I feel fortunate to be part of such a great, supportive, team, especially in my current role as Catkins/Squirrels Room Leader.

In my spare time I enjoy being with my family, walking and cycling.

Krista Ross


Deputy Room Leader in Acorns


Diploma PreSchool Practice

ECAT (Every Child A Talker) Trained

Paediatric 1st Aid Trained


I live in Cranleigh with my husband and have three grown up children. I have been an Early Years Practitioner for 26 years and at Acorn for 15 of those. I love working with the pre-school children, the joy of watching them become such confident learners is wonderful and so rewarding. I enjoy working with our enthusiastic team, in such a warm and caring environment. I seem to have inherited the children’s gardening club, which they love especially in the summer when they can pick and eat the fruit that they’ve planted. It’s ironic that I’m actually working in the school grounds that I started my own Learning Journey on over 45 years ago.

In my spare time I enjoy gardening especially growing my own fruit and vegetables, although I’m still learning and love to hear other gardener’s tips and advice.


Mel Luck

Early Years Practitioner in Catkins & Squirrels


Children and Young Persons Workforce (CYPD) Level 3

Paediatric 1st Aid Trained


I came to know and love Acorn when my two daughters attended, I loved the nursery environment so much I knew I wanted to be part of it. When my youngest child started school, I re-trained from retail management to become an Early Years Practitioner. I love working with the 2 and 3-year olds, watching them grow in confidence and I really enjoy helping to teach them to develop the necessary key skills during these early years. It really is a joy to be part of the children’s learning journey.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, history and spending time with family. I love listening to 80’s music.

Clare Brambley


Early Years Practitioner in Acorns

SENDCo Trained


Children and Young Persons Workforce (CYPD) Level 3

SEND (Surrey County Council Trained)

Paediatric 1st Aid Trained


I grew up in Australia and came to the UK to work as a Nanny for a year, I enjoyed it immensely and decided to remain working in Childcare. I then trained as a Nanny and loved my time working with three different families, who I still remain in close contact with. I’m married with four children, my eldest started at Acorn in 2009. We loved the ethos of the nursery and all my children had an excellent start to their education. I began volunteering at Acorn when my youngest started and I absolutely loved working with the children and being part of the Acorn team. I’m very keen to progress my career, hence my CYPD and my SEND qualifications. I particularly find working with children with Special Educational Needs immensely rewarding, so was delighted when I was offered the SENCo role.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, swimming, looking after our menagerie of pets and watching my children train and compete in their various sporting activities.

Leanne Larner  
Early Years Practitioner in Acorns 

Forest School Lead

Licenced Thrive Practitioner


Diploma in Child Care & Education Level 3

Forest School Professional Lead 

Paediatric 1st Aid Trained/Forest School Outdoor 1st Aid Trained

Thrive Licenced Practitioner 

I had always known I wanted to work with children from a very young age, and began studying towards my childcare qualifications straight after leaving school. I continued to work in childcare right up until I had my first of three children.  After a break from childcare whilst raising my own children, I was then delighted to have the amazing opportunity to take up my current position here at the The Acorn Nursery School, where my youngest, Harry, attends and loves it!  It is an absolute pleasure working at such an outstanding nursery, alongside such a friendly and inspiring team. I particularly love the fact we spend so much time outdoors, as do the children.
In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, and raising funds for a  wonderful charity close to my heart, Shooting Star Children's Hospices.

Gemma Dighton 

Early Years Pracitioner in Catkins & Squirrels 

Deputy Room Leader in Catkins & Squirrels


Level 3 Early Learning and Young People’s Workforce (QCF)

Level 4 The Early Years: Developing Practice, Young Children’s Play and Creativity.

Paediatric 1st Aid Trained


My three children all attended Acorns where they flourished and confidently made the transition into primary school. They are all at secondary school now and have fond memories of their time at Acorns.

I began working in early years in 2008 and have been professionally involved with Acorns since 2011. I am level 4 qualified and have undertaken further training in ‘young children’s play and creativity’ as well as regularly updating my skills with CPD.
At Acorns I have the opportunity to be part of a professional, nurturing team that offers the children a stimulating, caring, safe and secure environment to thrive in. I love working in early years, supporting each child’s individual development and being part of their learning journey. Working with children teaches you to expect the unexpected and guarantees that no two days will be the same!

In my free time I love exploring the surrounding areas walking my dog, running, reading and trying to perfect the ‘crow’ yoga pose!

Tracey Webb


Early Years Practitioner in Acorns

SEND Support



Early Years Teacher Status (EYT)

Post Graduate Certificate in Early Education

BA Honours in Early Years

Foundation Degree in Early Years

I've been working in Early Years since I left school. At University I studied Early Years Education, ultimately qualifying as an Early Years Teacher. I've recently returned to EY after a short career break to raise my daughter. I have a particular passion for Speech and Language Development and love to support children in finding their 'voice'. In my free time I love to be outside, walking and exploring with my 4 year old daughter. I also make my own jewellery to help me relax and unwind. 

Stephanie Singleton

Early Years Practitioner  (Catkins)


·         Masters Degree in Teaching (QTS)

·         Batchelor of Arts in Health and Physical Education

·         First Aid Trained

I have always enjoyed working with children of all ages and after completing my Masters degree in Teaching I have worked for over 15 years in the education sector from primary through to secondary levels with a specialism in Physical Education. It is great seeing children grow and mature. I have four young children of my own and they have each attended and thrived at  The Acorn Nursery School. It is through my children that I’ve come to understand how important these early years are to their development.
In my spare time I coach Netball, enjoy running and love reading a good book.

Lizzie Banks 

Level 3 Child Care & Education Apprentice
Level 2 Diploma in Child Care & Education 

Paediatric 1st Aid

I have always loved being around young children. I love listening to their ideas and their creative imagination. Since I was a child I knew I wanted to work with children, this was reinforced when I came to Acorns in 2019 to do my  work experience. I also attended the nursery as a child, as did my brother and sister, we all loved it. I want every child to have the same happy experience I had. 
In my spare time, with my younger siblings, we enjoy being outside horse riding and riding our motorbikes. As a family we spend lots of time outdoors and I love the fact Acorn does too.
I feel so lucky to be able to undertake a level 3 apprenticeship here. 

Jane Wilson


IT Support


BA Primary Education QTS

Paediatric 1st Aid Trained

SENDCo Trained


I have taught in a range of settings and ages from Reception to Year 10 before coming to Acorn when my eldest daughter started. Two of my children have attended Acorn and they loved their time there and thrived. I now  offer support with Tapestry and all things IT. 


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