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The Acorn Centre

Where Everyone Thrives

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Team Testimonials

Nikki Lucas, Provision Lead & Lead DSP

'Hi I'm Nikki and I lead the provision at The Acorn Centre.  I am a qualified teacher and senco and have had a passion for working with children with additional needs since the beginning of my career.  I am particularly interested in Autism, attachment and social emotional, mental health needs. Since setting up and working at The Acorn centre I have completed numerous training courses which include: Theraplay, sand story skills, drawing and talking and autism training. I am currently a Herts Steps tutor and also am able to train others to do sand story skills. At the Acorn centre numerous staff including myself are all THRIVE practitioners.


The Acorn Centre is an amazing place to work. We work with such a wide variety of children and schools; every day is different. The support we provide is invaluable to the schools, children and families that we work with.'


Lisa Shaw, Deputy Provision Lead, Specialist Teacher & DSP

'My name is Lisa and I am the Deputy Lead at The Acorn Centre. I have been a qualified teacher for many years and have worked with different year groups and a host of families. I am passionate about celebrating children’s successes and developing strong relationships to help support them in school and at our centre.

Acorn’s ethos of providing positive experiences to the children and families that we support has been fantastic to be a part of as it is such a unique provision. Our fantastic team work incredibly hard and we are lucky to be able to work closely with children to give them skills that help to equip them for life.  Learning through play is a passion of mine and is adopted within the way we work which is incredibly successful.'


Family Support Practitioner

Tracey Anne Gill

"Hi my name is Tracey. I have recently joined The Acorn, but already the passion for working with Families who have children with additional needs has come flooding back. I have previously worked in a SEMH school with Families and have also worked for a local Service providing support to local schools. I have various skills and expertise in different areas so that I can best support every individual family I work with. We are all different and that's ok! 

Being a Parent is one of the hardest jobs ever and it doesn't come with a manual! Parenting a child with an additional need including Autism, ADHD and Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs can be even trickier. Being able to help and support through these difficulties is what we do best.


Going on a journey, where we don't always know the end destination can be scary. We aim to be with you on that journey."


To find out more about that our Family Support Practitioners can offer, click here. 

Jo Kingsley, Children's Counsellor DipCC (BACP Registered Member)

I’ve worked in schools since 2015. I started as a volunteer in a primary school listening to children of all ages read. I then became a Midday Supervisor's Assistant for 5 years, which meant looking after children during lunchtimes and out on the playground. I really enjoyed this role as I was able to be creative with the children through play. As my creativity had been unlocked I decided to train as a children’s counsellor.


I worked at the Acorn Centre previously as a Therapeutic Play Practitioner and I left this role to concentrate on my training. In July 2021, I qualified as an Integrative children's counsellor using the arts, trained at The Institute For Arts In Therapy And Education in London.


I use play and art to allow the children to open up and express themselves freely. The child is given a confidential space to manage their thoughts and big feelings in a safe way. By using 7 forms of art to connect their mind and body, this visual language supports the child to safely explore their internal and external worlds, with the aim of improving their emotional well-being. I’ve had experience working with young people with Autism and children who have a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, bereavement, grief, loss, family breakdown, attachment disorders, trauma, abuse and self harm. The counselling process offers a safe environment where these difficulties can be explored creating long lasting life changes and psychological shifts. 


I am also a registered SandStory therapist, trained by Lara Kasza and enjoy using this medium to allow children to express themselves. SandStory Therapy is a very gentle therapeutic approach enabling the child to tell their story in the sand, combining the therapeutic use of sand, water and symbols to support the child through their therapeutic journey. Story telling is a way of connecting with the child’s unconscious and can be very powerful especially with children who find talking and expressing themselves difficult.


I feel very privileged to be part of the team at the Acorn Centre.  


Acorn Behaviour Support Practitioners

Fiona Ford

'Hi my name is Fiona Ford and I am a behaviour support practitioner at the Acorn Centre. I have worked at The Acorn Centre for 4 years and proud to be part of a setting that provides a welcoming sanctuary for children and families.


I have a passion for supporting children, having their voices heard and advocating on their behalf. I have a wealth of experience starting my career as a midday supervisory assistant and leading a team alongside working as a HLTA. Within this role a took on the pastoral support within the school working with small groups and delivering interventions. This became the foundation for my future development in supporting vulnerable children with varying needs.  


A particular area of interest for me is trauma and attachment, how these life experiences (Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs) impact a child’s daily life and how I can support them through this. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with the children and allowing them to understand what is happening within their bodies and brain when they become heightened.  

I have gained additional experience and qualifications in Autism, sand story skills, protective behaviours, attachment, drawing and talking, counselling skills (Level 2 CACHE), THRIVE and most recently I have become a sensory processing practitioner. All of these additional skills support and focus my work with the children.  


Alison Colby

'Hi my name is Ali Colby, I have worked at the Acorn centre for 3 years as a behaviour support practitioner. I worked as a TA in a senior school, moving on to become behaviour support manager. I’m a trained Parenting support Facilitator, a trained instructor in baby massage and now a trained Thrive practitioner.

I have attended numerous courses relating to children’s behaviours including attachment, drawing and talking, protective behaviours, step on, understanding Autism, safeguarding, trauma and speech & language course. Also achieved a Diploma in social work and HE. I’m a DSP and first Aid trained.

I love working with such a varied range of children within the Acorn centre and on outreach within schools supporting the child and staff. Giving them positive experiences and strategies to help their development.

The Acorn is such a unique provision for children, families and schools. Having lots of different avenues to work with (therapeutic, play, family support etc) it’s a lovely team to be part of, working together to give our children the best possible outcome.'


Ciara-Mae Clarke

I joined the Acorn team in 2021 and have loved every second since. I previously worked as a 1-1 in a mainstream school and worked alongside the Acorn supporting children in school. This gave me the confidence to progress my career and I started working at St Luke’s, specialist SEN school.  

During my time there, I realised my passion was to work with children with SEMH and behavioural needs. Since working for Acorn, I have received so much support and training. No day at Acorn is ever the same and I look forward to everyday no matter what challenge it may bring.