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Meet the Team

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Our team is the foundation of our success

For the team at Heath Lane, teaching early years is much more than a job. We care deeply about children’s happiness and success. Our classrooms are joyful places to be, where children are engaged and teachers give praise and encouragement. We listen to parents and families, and work together with them to help children achieve their full potential.

Find out more about the qualified, experienced leadership team at Heath Lane below.

Roots Leadership Team 

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Hayley Yendell

Headteacher and Curriculum Lead,

Roots Federation

With vision, commitment and care, Hayley takes a lead on the curriculum for Roots Nurseries, ensuring it sets all our children up for happiness and success. Hayley is a proficient leader with decades of experience leading early years settings. In 2001 she became deputy headteacher at a three-form primary school in Stevenage where she took on special responsibility for early years.

She then became an early years adviser at Herts for Learning, a company whose mission is to improve education across the county. In this role, Hayley gave consultation, training and support that improved outcomes for over 100 schools.


Hayley sits on a governing body of  Governor of South Hill primary School (Hemel ) and trustee of the Claxton Trust (Stevenage), and is a trustee at a multi-academy trust, where she shares her expertise with the wider community.

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Gemma Williamson 

Headteacher and SENCo,

Roots Federation

Gemma is Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator for the Roots Nurseries, and takes a lead in the Federation’s business and strategic decisions.

In 2010 , she led the foundation stage at Laurence Haines primary school in Watford. In recognition of her impressive leadership, the local authority made her a Leading Teacher, a role that saw her help other schools across the county improve their early years provision.

Gemma took the headship at Muriel Green Nursery in 2017. That same year, she achieved the National Special Educational Needs

Co-ordinator Award. She began working as a consultant to the headteachers at Oxhey Early Years in 2021. Here, she had the vision to collaborate with Heath Lane Nursery to improve all three settings, a vision which eventually led to co-founding the Roots Federation.

Gemma sits on the governing bodies of two maintained primary schools in Hertfordshire, keeping her up to date with educational practice beyond early years. She also sits on two boards representing the voice of maintained nursery schools.

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Bethany Kent - Senior Teacher 

Bethany started her career as an Early Years Practitioner before going on to graduate as a Primary School Teacher. During her 13 year career in teaching she has worked in a number of Outstanding Primary School settings across Hertfordshire, with experiences ranging from Reception Class Teacher through to Early Years Leader. After returning from maternity she joined the team at Heath Lane Nursery School as a Senior Leader, supporting a team of teachers and Early Years Practitioners to deliver an exciting and skill based curriculum for the children. During Bethany’s time teaching she lead previous teams to enhance quality of teaching, achieving awards in the Early Years Quality Standards. At Heath Lane Bethany focuses her time on raising standards of teaching with a keen interest in Phonics. She also likes to support the wellbeing of staff and children, whilst inspiring a love of learning.

“I love working with young children because I find it very rewarding to support their learning and growth. Seeing their development and inspiring them with a love to learn sets them up to become independent learners in the future. I love being part of a warm and nurturing team at Heath Lane, in a learning environment which supports every individual child’s interests and next steps.”

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Emma Mitchell - Senior Teacher 

Emma graduated from the University of Brighton with a BA Hons in Primary Education 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.

My passion has always been Early Years education, providing children with a safe and nurturing environment upon which to learn life long skills. Enabling children to grow and develop whilst having fun and initiating their own learning is a great privilege to be a part of. I love seeing the joy and excitement that
Children feel when they learn a new skill. I am so excited to join the team at Heath Lane.

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Joanna Green 
Teacher 

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Videlina Gelborova
Teacher 

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Jessica Carini 
Teacher 

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Sam Shore
Early Years Practitioner

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Natalie Auld
Early Years Practitioner

Vanessa Hutchins
Early Years Practitioner

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Jo Copeland
Early Years Practitioner

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Marion French
Early Years Practitioner

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Effie Sideri
Early Years Practitioner

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Karen Hanson 
Familiar Adult 

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Carolyn Deane
Office Manager

Aimee Rance
After School Club Assistant 

Michelle Shearer
Admin Team Member 

Paul
Caretaker 

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