Our Team


Pippa Bennett 

BA (Hons) (French and Drama) PGCE QTS

Pippa has been a teacher for over 20 years. Her specialism is working with children with barriers to learning. She has left mainstream education to run this unique nursery and maintain its philosophy, ethos and feel. During her time as a teacher, Pippa  worked for the Local Authority supporting schools with regard to Special Needs issues, for Plymouth University as an associate tutor on the Professional Studies and SEN modules and supporting trainee teachers in school. Pippa also worked as a Facilitator on the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders (in Education) originally established by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). Pippa’s last position in mainstream education was as Assistant Head at Oldway Primary School.

Rob Bennett

BEd (Hons) (Music) QTS, MA (Ed)

Rob is a qualified primary teacher with ten years experience working with both Key Stage 1 and 2 classes in Torbay. For the last 17 years Rob has worked as a lecturer in Primary and Early Years Education at the University of Plymouth.  Rob now works part-time at the Nursery and at the University of Exeter where he lectures on the primary curriculum music element of the Primary PGCE course.  Rob holds a Bachelor and  a Masters degree in Education.  His research interests include primary music education and working with non-specialist teachers, creativity in early education, mentoring new teachers and teacher resilience and wellbeing.

Rob is a very keen trombone player and plays regularly with Torbay Symphony Orchestra, South Devon Big Band and the famous local soul band Soul Funktion. Rob regularly leads big group music in the nursery with his trombone. When he is not working or playing the trombone you will often find Rob pedalling around the South West on one of his bikes!

Nadine Powell

NURSERY DEPUTY and Designated Safeguarding Lead

Nadine has worked in various settings for young children both abroad and in the U.K.  For  14 years she worked in a primary school supporting vulnerable pupils and children with differing needs as an HLTA (Higher Level Teaching Assistant).  She has four children and is a grandmother.   Nadine started working part time here at Southernwood and enjoyed every aspect of the nursery and the experience it brought.  We were thrilled when she made the decision to join the team at Southernwood. Nadine enjoys seeing children develop through play and thrive in the nurturing environment that Southernwood provides.


  • NNEB Qualified for 30 years
  • NVQ Level 3 teaching Assistant
  • CACHE level 3 diploma – specialist support teaching in schools
  • Thrive trained
  • Child Protection – Grass roots
  • Paediatric First Aid
  • NPSLBA National Programme for specialist leaders in Behaviour and Attendance
  • Child Protection Level 3
  • Level 3 Diploma in Management (ILM)
  • Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Management in the Business Skills Sector


Leah Needham

ASSISTANT DEPUTY – Teaching and Learning Lead

Leah brings a wealth of experience and personality to our team. She has worked in childcare for nearly 20 years and in that time has managed a nursery on a military base and undertaken a wide range of training . She has also been a registered foster carer in that time.


  • NNEB
  • Child Protection Level 3
  • Paediatric First Aid


Jo Smith


Being a mum of two older children inspired Jo to join the childcare sector. Jo is committed to helping young children enjoy their learning and sharing their experiences. She joined Southernwood in 2013 having achieved her qualifications and she has never looked back!


  • Level 2 – City & Guilds
  • Level 3 – Cache – in children and young peoples workforce
  • Paediatric First Aid


Louise Curtis

SENCO (Special Needs Co-ordinator) Shared Role

Louise also has lots of experience working with children. After completing her psychology degree, she worked in an educational organisation that catered for children who needed additional support in and out of mainstream school. Here she gained extensive skills and knowledge in analysing learning and designing focused activities that will support the development of children of all ages. Louise focuses on the children who need support in the nursery. Her aspirations are to gain a teaching qualification in Early Years and will be starting this in September 2020.


  • Degree in Psychology
  • Paediatric First Aid


Clare Chapman 


Clare joined the nursery after making a career change to pursue her love of working with children. She has recently achieved her NVQ2 in Childcare. She has had plenty of experience having brought up her own two gorgeous children and her excitement about being here is evident every day.


Amy Perkins


Amy joined last November having gained lots of experience  in another fairly local nursery after completing her degree in Early Childhood  and gaining a 2:1. It is obvious that Amy loves to see the children flourish and develop in nursery, taking great delight in their achievements daily. We feel very lucky that the opportunity of joining our team appealed to her and that here she is!


  • Cache Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education (VRQ)
  • BA (HONS) Early childhood 2:1
  • Paediatric First Aid
  • Previous experience of working in nursery in a both workforce and managerial


Heidi  Wesley


Heidi knows the nursery really well as her 3 adorable children all attended Southernwood. She has worked in health and social care for many years and brings with her considerable knowledge, particular in relation to learning needs. She is very happy to be looking after your children!


Claire Honeysett


Claire is our resident chef! She loves nothing more than talking food and preparing delicious meals for the children, her own and those in the nursery. She is also a member of the Territorial Army and yes…she cooks for them too!! We are lucky to have her!


  • Level 2 Food Hygiene.