Meet The Team
The ADO Mini-Explorers team is part of the ADO Academy which is supported by the experienced team behind Animal Days Out C.I.C.. Let us have a look at our team on the ground.
Tara Thompson - Outdoor Teaching Manager
In October 2018, Tara joined the ADO team as the Outdoor Teaching Manager! Tara will be the direct manager for the preschool team and will liaise with Lesley on the running of the preschool.
After qualifying as a Montessori Teacher, Tara spent several years working in a Montessori Preschool. Tara organised regular trips to the woods, where she observed the children flourishing. It wasn’t long before her passion for outdoors led her to enrol on a Forest School Course! Tara will be leading the Forest School activities with the Mini Explorers and sharing her wealth of knowledge and experiences with the team.
Tara’s teaching practice is centred around the holistic and child led approach, which is perfect for our lovely preschool! Tara believes children’s natural curiosity needs to be fostered wherever possible.
Tara will lead the team to ensure our continued outstanding childcare!
Lesley Bonynge – Operations Manager
Lesley joined the ADO team in March 2018 and has thrived in the outdoor education environment. Lesley is a devoted member of the team and quickly settled in as the Operations Manager. Lesley joined our outdoor preschool with enthusiasm and has given us many new exciting ideas to enable the preschool to grow even more.
Lesley has over 13 years of experience working in child care and she is able to bring this wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. During her career, Lesley has achieved Level 2 and 3 NVQ qualifications. Lesley loves working with the children, it is her ideal career and she couldn't imagine doing anything else!
Lesley has a young daughter of her own, so she has first-hand experience and feels she can share this with parents/carers to relate with them on a personal level. Lesley is looking forward to her daughter starting at the preschool and becoming a Mini Explorer!
Emma Taylor - Outdoor Educator & SENCo (Holiday Club Manager)
Emma joined us at the start of the January term 2018. Emma has a level 2 diploma in children’s care, learning and development, as well as a level 2 certificate for the children and young people’s workforce, level 3 diploma for the children and young people’s workforce (early learning and childcare) and paediatric first aid.
Emma has worked in a range of day nursery’s since 2011 working with children of 3m-5yrs, whilst completing her childcare training. In 2016 Emma became a sole charge Nanny for two young children aged 6 months and 4 years old.
Emma's role has continually developed since her start with us and she became the preschool's SENCo shortly after starting with us. Emma has shown a willingness to learn and develop her skills in this area and it is something she is very passionate about.
Emma is also the holiday club manager and assists with the daily planning and running of the clubs. Emma and the holiday club preschool team enjoy planning the activities for the different themes throughout the year!
Amber Downs - Outdoor Educator, Level 3
Amber qualified as a Level 3 in Early Years in June 2018 after a lot of hard work and dedication. Amber adores working with young children and is very energetic and imaginative, making a perfect combination for getting fully involved in children's play!
Amber has been volunteering and working with ADO since she was at school, assisting and running parties and taking part in the after school and holiday clubs as a young leader.Though this insight in to childcare and having experience within the preschool, Amber decided it was the right decision for her to undertake the Level 3 and we're very proud of her completion!
Amber is passionate about the forest school ethos and couldn’t imagine teaching in any other way. She loves having the opportunity to be with nature every day and see all of the Mini Explorers grow within it. Amber developed her career further by becoming a trained bushcraft practitioner! She supports the children with activities such as den building, natural crafts and fire making. She enjoys using her creative qualities and art skills to help develop our preschool environment and helped to design and paint some of the beautiful decorations we have on the playground floor and around the garden.
Morgan Newman -Early Years Apprentice
The preschool core team had a wonderful new apprentice start up in September 2018. Morgan joined the team as an Early Years Apprentice and is excited about the journey ahead of her! Morgan dove head first in to the role and has embraced all the required training and has recently completed her paediatric first aid course.
Morgan has childcare experience through years of helping to care for younger family members aged 4-7 years old. Morgan also completed her school work experience in a Primary school which further led to her decision to follow a path in childcare.
This experience helped Morgan to realise her passion for working with children and fuelled her ambition to start a career in childcare with ADO.
Morgan has a very caring and energetic nature, which is great for being in the Mini Explorer's garden! She loves working with the Mini Explorers and continues to work hard to develop her skills.
Julia Davenport - Lunchtime Supervisor
Julia joined ADO in June 2018 as the lunch time supervisor. She assists the team during the busy lunch time period and helps with the essential kitchen clear up!
Julia has previous experience as a Midday Supervisor at a Primary school and has also trained as a TA. Julia has studied Hotel and Catering Management, specialising in accommodation which has led her to work in management roles in hotels, hospitals and a housing association. Julia says she loves working with ADO and we love having her work with us!
Carol Lindsay - Outdoor Leader
Carol has been working with children and young people for almost 20 years. She is fully able to work with children on a 1:1 level to resolve specific issues. This wealth of knowledge working with children has enabled Carol to settle in to the role of an Outdoor Leader. Carol has the ability to engage with children and young people at all levels and she has fully gotten involved with the Mini Explorers, since she started in September 2018.
Carol is enjoying working outdoors and has a passion for arts and crafts, which she loves to share with the Mini Explorers! She also thoroughly enjoys bug hunting with the Mini Explorers and can often be found around the garden looking for worms and woodlice with the children! Carol has a fun nature and really enjoys being part of the children's journey with ADO!
Eloise Greenwood - Outdoor Educator & Operations Assistant
Eloise has been with ADO since 2013 and has proved herself a valuable member of the team! Eloise has shown versatility in her time with ADO and her skills have grown with the company. Eloise started out volunteering with community events and company photography. She moved in to the office to help with the ever increasing administration, whilst assisting with the running of after school clubs and holiday clubs.
In February 2016, ADO Mini Explorers Preschool opened and Eloise was there from Day 1. Eloise helped out in the preschool with a mix of administration and childcare until she decided to dedicate herself to undertaking a Level 2 qualification in Early Years Care and Education. Eloise worked daily with the Mini Explorers and thoroughly enjoyed her time at the preschool and being part of the children’s exciting learning journey!
In March 2018, Eloise made the brave decision to return back to the office to help the company to grow further and develop the Alternative Provision, which will help vulnerable children and young people. Eloise is now the Business and Exams Officer for ADO and shows true dedication and hard work to this demanding role. She also assists with the therapy admin, preschool invoicing and current Mini Explorer requests, handles the holiday club administration and all other enquiries. She is the backbone of the office!
Julie Longhurst - Operations Assistant
Julie is our preschool whizz in the office and she handles all the preschool new starters and June leavers. If you call the office to enquire about the preschool, you'll likely talk to Julie and she will guide you through the next steps and enrolling your child as a Mini Explorer! Julie was originally a volunteer and moved to working in the office and has now been with us over two years and has proved a valuable member of the team with a very calm and caring nature. Julie's youngest son, is heavily involved with our Holiday Clubs and is about to become an official Mentor!
Joe Greenwood - Horticulture Level 2
The preschool grounds and maintenance are up kept by Joe who has a level 2 in horticulture. Joe works hard to ensure all of the outdoor areas at ADO are of a high standard and he also offers community garden services for individuals and schools through ADO. Joe has built many of the features in the preschool garden, including the play house and the mud kitchen, which the children love! Joe used to run the Gardening After-School Club at the preschool and worked with one of the Mentors, who has now taken on the role of running the gardening club. This has allowed Joe to focus on the project work across all areas of ADO.
Sam Pilcher - Advanced Outdoor Programme Apprentice
Sam has experience working with all child age groups at our holiday clubs and after school clubs. More recently, Sam has been working hard at our Alternative Provision, but he is still required at the preschool for sessional work on the busier days!
Sam is a qualified bushcraft practitioner and brings his knowledge and passion for bushcraft to the children to assist them with activities. He used these skills to make a set of natural monkey bars for the Mini Explorers to enjoy!
Sam is a Low Ropes Course Instructor and Low Ropes Constructor, enabling him to run Low Ropes obstacle courses and challenges for some of ADO's services.
Katie O'Brien - Senior Manager and Therapist
Katie is the senior manager for all areas of ADO, she will also become the Head of School once our Alternative Provision receives independent school status.
She was fully involved in the operations of the preschool and lead the preschool visits for a lengthy period but has recently handed that over to the preschool managers to enable her to focus on the newest ADO project which is the Alternative Provision. If you would like to know more information about the Alternative Provision click HERE.
Kate has worked at ADO since 2013 and has gained a wealth of experience and skills. She is a Bushcraft Practitioner and has an Animal Assisted Therapy Diploma, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Diploma and Animal Management Diploma. More recently, Kate attended a Neuro Linguistic Course, and is keen for NLP techniques to be transferred into all areas of ADO. With her knowledge and experience with therapy, Kate is able to advise and support the preschool managers on supporting children with SEN, Challenging behaviour, and if they are EAL due to various courses attended, and experience gained in the therapy side of the business.
Victoria McHolland-Pilcher - Education & Therapy Director
The ADO Academy is headed by Victoria McHolland-Pilcher, our Education and Therapy Director. Victoria also leads our ADO Therapy teams and has over 15 years Project Management and Business Consultancy experience and qualifications working for large firms in London and across the country.
Victoria's life history includes a lifelong love of supporting youth and community programs and with a family heavily involved in youth and community, spent many summers supporting holiday schemes for deprived children and young people. Victoria has undertaken both the Forest School Leader Level 3 course and is also a Bushcraft Practitioner with several years experience of implementing these programs within our existing childcare clubs.
Victoria is a Low Ropes Course Instructor and Low Ropes Constructor, enabling her to run Low Ropes courses for ADO. Victoria also holds qualifications in Animal Assisted Therapy, finalising in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and is a qualified Relaxation Therapist. With a therapy team on hand, we are in a strong position to support children with SEND requirements where required.
Each after school club has a different themed activity. These are run by our amazing Mentors, who dedicate their time and show a passion for working with the children during the after school club. The core team work closely with the Mentors to plan the after school club activities and support them on the start of their childcare journey. There are photos of the Mentors outside the preschool on the parent noticeboard.
The ADO Team
Some other members of the ADO Team may be at the preschool at various times whilst your child is attending the setting. They are there to help support the preschool and assist with upkeep and maintenance. There are staff sheets on the parent noticeboard which have images of all staff involved with the preschool. All staff involved with the preschool have enhanced DBS checks. The whole operation is backed by key staff at head office where our operational team are the cogs in the machine that make our Mini-Explorers Preschool tick. We have 8 years of operational experience running after-school and holiday clubs for young children and young people. Not forgetting our wonderful animals that we regard as being part of our team and the animal care team that looks after them. Our team operates across many areas of the business supporting our animal, wildlife, nature and outdoor activities for all our brands and services. The ADO Team partner with Kylanja Ltd T/A Animal Days Out, with over 25 years of operational experience working for large companies in the London West End and City. The ADO team and partnership ensure that their is full support behind growing our Preschool.
As a not for profit Community Interest Company, we could not achieve all that we do without our wonderful volunteers that support many of our programs including our after school clubs, holiday programs, community events and therapy. We encourage volunteers to help in our preschool and are always looking for reliable volunteers who have experience in childcare settings, young people on work experience, parents wanting to get back into work or those wanting to undertake childcare placements with us. We also work with the Apprenticeship scheme across our company. All Preschool volunteers will require reference checks and an enhanced DBS check.
We have various education session workers in our team who will support the preschool who are multi trained in delivering educational animal encounters, animal handling and animal therapy to childrens centres, schools and nurseries who are on hand as needed.
We will at various times of the year require additional qualified Preschool staffing to cover holidays, absences and growth. We are especially looking for session workers with Childcare Level 2 and 3 to be on our books planning ahead for our growth. If this is you and you love the outdoors - get in touch!