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.  My role has developed to also include curriculum co-ordinator.

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.

Jo O'Rawe

I am the Playgroup's Deputy Manager, along with being SENCO and Safeguarding Lead. 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.

Mandy Spong

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.

Sarah Hoad

Sally Chapman

In 2020 I became a Key Worker within the Playgroup, after 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!!

Our Committee

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:


CHAIRMAN - MIKE PAXMAN 
SECRETARY - DEN HARVEY
TREASURER - EMILY WRIGHT
COMMITTEE MEMBERS: REBECCA VALLANCE, KELLY MCLEAN & ROSS BEST

I joined Staplehurst Under 5s in January 2021 as a keyworker. I completed my NVQ level 2 in childcare whilst working as a trainee in reception class. I then went on to work in nurseries  where I became a room leader, before becoming a nanny.

I am an auntie, a godmum and a furmum to a cockapoo!

In my spare time I enjoy walking, socialising with family and friends and live music.