Our Staff

We are committed to providing the very best education and care for your children, and recognise that every child deserves the best possible start in life.  We aim to work in partnership with parents to help children to learn and develop, to gain confidence and to reach their potential in whatever they do.

We aim to add to the wellbeing of the community and to offer children and their parents a service that promotes equality.
Ali Hicks

I started my childcare career volunteering in a preschool and primary school before starting work as an Accredited Childminder. I gained Early Years Professional Status then moved on to work in Cranbrook Children's Centre for several years before joining Staplehurst Under 5s in 2018 as Manager and key worker of the orange group.

I have four children, a cat and a husband. In my spare time I like cooking, gardening and being outdoors, plus as a family we are always busy because we are building our own home from scratch so there's always a lot to do! 

My favourite thing about working with children is definitely the hugs.... It's also a wonderful thing to be part of their lives and help them to develop and learn.

Helen Lineham

I have worked at Staplehurst Under5 since 2003 and became deputy in 2013 alongside my role of Curriculum co-ordinator.   I have a Diploma in pre-school practice (Level 3) and regularly attend courses  to update and further my knowledge. 

I find the position rewarding especially when seeing a child progress in their development -however small the achievement.

My home is in  Cranbrook with my husband, 22 year old daughter and our very much loved and spoilt Springer Spaniel. 

I enjoy spending time with family and friends, breaks in the UK,  exploring new walks (often a picnic involved),  baking and more recently I have developed an interest in gardening - growing both vegetables and flowers. 

Tracy Johnson

I started working at the Playgroup in 2004 when my youngest child started at Primary School and I loved it! So much so, I have been here ever since.

I have two grown up children and I am now a grandparent which keeps me busy and updated on the latest trends!!

My hobbies include family gatherings, we have an array of animals which I enjoy tending to and I particularly enjoy being in the countryside.

Mandy Spong
Jo O'Rawe

I am the Blue group Keyworker and our Fire Officer. I have worked at the Playgroup since June 2004 .

I have a level 3 diploma in preschool practice,first aid certificate and attend and complete e-learning courses to keep knowledge updated. I enjoy nurturing the children through play to help them reach their full potential.

I have 2 grown up children and enjoy gardens, animals and nature photography.

I am the Purple group Keyworker and our Safeguarding Officer. I started at SU5’s in September 2019, having previously worked as a TA in a primary school and a Practitioner at a Pre-school. 

I obtained my Cache Level 3 Dipolma in Children and young Persons Workforce and developed further my knowledge of special educational needs and disabilities.

I have 2 teenage sons and 3 Hungarian Vizsla dogs.  In my spare time I volunteer for a Hungarian Vizsla charity and home check prospective adopters.

I have a huge passion for enjoying books and reading to children in early years.

Our Committee

Sarah Hoad

I have been volunteering with the playgroup since 2017, at which time my son came to Playgroup.

I am training for my Level 3 Early Years qualification.

I love Harry Potter!!

Staplehurst Under 5 Playgroup benefits from an extremely talented committee who support the staff, organise events and lead various fundraising initiatives, all on a voluntary basis in their own spare time. They are:


Registered Charity No. 802551