Meet the Staff

Darren & Kate Taylor

Proprietors

Darren Taylor: Degree – Bachelor of Education (with Honours), National Nursery Education Board Qualified, Early Years Professional Status

Kate Taylor: Degree – Bachelor of Education (with Honours)

Securing, renovating and then opening Sandcastles in September 2000 was a massive leap of faith for us.  We had a young family and we took a chance on something we believed in.  It was both scary and exciting in equal measure.  Possibly, if you’re doing something for the right reasons and certainly, if you’re prepared to work hard, you have a higher chance of succeeding.  Sandcastles has succeeded from the day we opened.

It has changed a great deal over the years as children have come and gone along with, from time to time, staff.  We have also seen much change within government and at local level which has brought new ideas and legislation.  Change, at times, can seem daunting and sometimes frustrating but reflecting back, even though the children have always received outstanding care and education (and you don’t need to take our word for this, Ofsted have found this to be the case at every inspection), the opportunities the children have now seem endless with so much freedom to be able to access all areas and resources independently.

We consider ourselves so fortunate to have jobs that provide such variety and ones where we can and do, really make a difference to young lives.  It’s wonderful to be able to adapt areas to constantly provide the children with new and exciting opportunities.  It’s also wonderful to work alongside such an amazing group of people.

Parent partnership has also changed over the years.  We have always had strong links with our families but with social media, the sharing of information has become far easier and quicker, to the benefit of all.  Providing excellent customer service is extremely important to us.   We work hard to ensure we offer what is now possibly an old-fashioned service – personal, polite, caring and efficient with a common-sense approach.

In the early days, staff management was probably our biggest challenge as, being teachers, it was something new for us to master.  Putting ourselves on training courses helped but in reality, there’s nothing better than experience.  Like all things here, our staffing team has gone from strength to strength.  We really do work as a team and are all the better for it.  We are very pleased therefore, to introduce to you our excellent, dedicated, highly skilled staffing team all of whom play a key role in making Sandcastles the outstanding setting that it is.

Sarah Connor

Manager

I have been a part of the Sandcastles team since 2003. I have ascended to manager through my years here and am passionate about the home from home environment and atmosphere that we have created. As a setting we have an ‘open door policy’ and this couldn’t be truer of my office door. Children, parents and my team will happily pop in, testament to the relationships that are intrinsic to the running of such a large setting. I am ever present in rooms, enabling me to have a hands-on knowledge of the practise and standards we have instilled and give me insight and opportunity to know all the children personally.

I enjoy working alongside our team to continuously challenge and develop our practise to achieve the highest standards in childcare and education. This can be by reflecting on our practice, analysing the curriculum, enhancing areas with redesign or new additions to our resources, or by identifying staff training needs. Whatever form it takes, I take pride in the fact that these actions are formulated from a collaboration to be proud of, my team.

To close, I am married and have two daughters. We love camping, music concerts and eating out.

Hollie Furniss

Deputy Manager / Head of Pre-School

I have been a part of the Sandcastles team since 2013.  Throughout this time I have been a nursery practitioner, Head of Starfish, Deputy Manager and am now also the Head of Dolphins (home to our Preschool aged children).  This has given me the opportunity to build relationships with many of the families that use Sandcastles and an understanding of all of the age groups in our care.  I hold a BA Hons degree in Early Childhood Studies and am always keen to refresh and increase my knowledge.  Everyday here is different and it is a pleasure to work in such a warm, friendly and fun atmosphere.  In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking and socialising with friends and colleagues.

Claire Pritchard

Curriculum Leader

I joined Sandcastles team in September 2016 working with the preschool aged children.   I hold a L3 childcare qualification and have gained many years of experience.  I previously worked in a nursery and when I started my own family I registered as a childminder.  As a childminder I was able to tailor the learning to the individual and I feel at Sandcastles we are supporting the children in this way in a group environment.  I have a family of my own and can empathise with parents leaving them in the care of others. As a family we enjoy holidays, festivals, trips to the woods and spending time with our extended family.

Dani Giggins

Head of Seahorses

I have been working in childcare since 2010 and have been a part of the Sandcastles team since February 2014. Since joining, I have progressed to Head of Room, first with the 0-2 room and now the 2-3 room and am a part of the senior management team.  I have gained both a level 2 and 3 in child care working with various age groups. I am particularly passionate about the under 3’s, creating individual bonds with them and their families. I love watching them change and grow everyday.  Outside of work I enjoy spending all of my time with family and friends.

Jackie Bryant

Senior Practitioner

I have enjoyed working with and caring for children in different environments for over twenty five years. Since joining Sandcastles team I have worked with various age groups from two up to school age children, alll of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I take pride in my work and enjoy watching the children grow and develop, being part of their success and achievements. I love my job as much today as I did when I started.

Aaron Hodges

Nursery Practitioner

I have been working at Sandcastles since 2012.  I am currently a member of the Dolphin’s team.  I enjoy interacting with the children and challenging their thinking. The preschool age children keep me on my toes offering thought-provoking conversation and interactions. I currently hold a level 2 in Childcare and would like to extend my knowledge by undertaking a degree in Childhood and Youth studies and child psychology.

Sam Stringer

Head of Starfish

I joined Sandcastles team as a student in September 2014 based in Seahorses and Dolphins.  Following the completion of my course and gaining my National diploma Level 3 in Children’s Care Learning and Education, I became a nursery practitioner at Sandcastles and have since gained knowledge and experience with all the age ranges. I now run the Starfish Suite which is a role that I love.  I enjoy working with the children and playing a part in their learning and development.  I find it rewarding seeing them thrive.  In my spare time, I enjoy socialising with friends and family.

Poppy McCabe

Nursery Practitioner

I hold a Level 3 in Children’s Development.  During my course I was lucky enough to work with all age groups including a placement within a Special Needs school.  I first came to Sandcastles as a student in 2014 and I fell in love with the setting and just knew that this was the place for me.  I am passionate about children’s development and love to get involved in their play and learning. I have the additional role as a Special Educational Needs co-ordinator within the setting, working with families and outside professionals to address any identified areas for support.   Outside of work I enjoy socialising with friends.

Kelly Dalby

Kids Club

I have been working in childcare since 2014.  I have a BA honours degree in English. I joined the Sandcastle’s team in April 2017. I enjoy my role spending time in all rooms within the nursery and then with the after school and holiday clubs. I love skiing, bike riding and travelling.  In my spare time I like to spend time with my family.

Kirsty Phillips

Nursery Practitioner

I gained my Level 3 BTEC National Diploma in Early years at SEEVIC in 2008. I have gained experience with all ages as a nanny to a family of five over the eight years that followed. I joined Sandcastles team in October 2017. Outside of Sandcastles I like to spend time with friends and family. I am also a member of a local gym that I regularly attend.

Bobbie-Jo Chambers

Nursery Practitioner

I currently hold my Level 3 in childcare but am continuing in my professional development to achieve a level 4 & 5. I have been working in childcare since 2014 gaining experience with different ages to support my studies. I joined Sandcastle’s team in October 2017. In my spare time I enjoy socialising and shopping.

Dani Wells

Nursery apprentice

I have recently joined Sandcastles team and am working to complete a level 3 apprenticeship in childcare.  I have previously achieved A levels and am continuing my studies  to support my goal of working with children.  This is something I have always wanted to do as I find being involved in their development and progress very rewarding.  Outside of Sandcastles I enjoy socialising with my friends and family.

Beth Shulton

Nursery Apprentice

I joined the Sandcastles team in November 2018.  I am working towards my NVG level 3 qualification in childcare.  Currently, I am based with the 2-3 year olds, expanding my experieince and knowledge.  Previously I volunteered at a local school as a teaching assistant.  In my free time I enjoy socialising with my family and friends.

David Taylor

I am Darren’s Dad. I do work around the nursery to keep it looking nice and to make sure it is a safe place to be. You will always find me busy in the garden unless I have come inside to fix something. When I am not at Sandcastles I love to play bowls.