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The Acorn Centre

Where Everyone Thrives

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Team Testimonials

Provision Lead & Lead DSP

Nikki Lucas

Hi I'm Nikki, 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 supporting children and schools therapeutically to meet the needs of all children. I have completed numerous short courses on attachment, social emotional, mental health needs along with autism, ADHD and PDA. Since setting up and working at the Acorn my training includes Theraplay Level 1, Sand Story Skills trainer status, drawing and talking practitioner, Parent Child Attachment play facilitator, trauma informed schools' practitioner and Herts Steps tutor. 


At the Acorn centre numerous staff including myself have completed the THRIVE approach practitioner training which forms the basis of our support.

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.'


Deputy Provision Lead, Specialist Teacher & DSP

Lisa Shaw,

'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.'

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

DDP Level 1 and Trauma Informed (Beacon House), Centre for Healing. 

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

'Hello, my name is Fiona and I am a Behaviour Support Practitioner at the Acorn Centre. I began my career within education as a Teaching Assistant/HLTA. Within this role I was part of a Pastoral team supporting small groups of children through several interventions including managing bereavement and loss. This became the foundation for my future development in supporting vulnerable children with varying needs. This passion led me to Acorn 5 years ago; a safe haven for children and families.


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


I have gained additional experience and qualifications in: THRIVE, Autism, Sand Story Skills, Protective Behaviours, Attachment, Drawing and Talking, Counselling skills (Level 2 CACHE), as well as Sensory Processing Practitioner. Most recently I have qualified as a Heart 2 Heart Practitioner/Facilitator which is a relational approach to Attachment Play.


A therapeutic approach enhances the above skills when supporting each child along their journey.


Alison Colby

'Hi my name is Ali Colby, I have worked at the Acorn centre for 6 years as a behaviour support practitioner. I worked as a TA in a senior school, moving on to become behaviour support manager. I’m have previously trained as a Parenting Support Facilitator, and more recently have become a Thrive practitioner.


My work with the children is focussed around the training I have received based upon a therapeutic way of thinking. I have attended numerous courses relating to children’s behaviours including Attachment, Drawing and Talking, SandStory Skills, Sensory Processing, Protective Behaviours, Step On, Understanding Autism, Safeguarding, Trauma and Speech & Language. I also have a diploma in social work and health education. I’m a qualified first aider. 


I love working with variety of children within The Acorn centre. On outreach, I am keen to support children and staff in a school setting, giving them positive experiences and strategies to help their development.


The Acorn is a unique provision for children, families and schools. We are able to offer many avenues of support for the families, schools and children. 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.