Our Team

For a truly special environment like Orchard you need and truly special team. Not to blow our own trumpet too much but we are extremely proud of the people who help to bring Orchard Preschool and Playgroup to life. Their passion for nature based learning, dedication to childhood development and experience in delivering care for children of all ages, stages and developmental needs shines through in everything they do.

Gemma Houghton

Orchard Preschool Manager

Gemma is our manager and safeguarding lead.  Gemma has worked in Early Years and Education for over 15 years.  She has worked in various early years settings; in her last position she was pre-school leader in a local primary school for seven years as well as forest school leader for the school.  Gemma lives on a farm on Dartmoor with her young family.  She is passionate about using the natural environment to enhance experiences for all our children, creating awe and wonder.  During her time in her previous position Gemma developed the early years Maths curriculum and created a programme of study called ‘Muddy Maths’.  Using the natural world to create meaningful opportunities for children to make progress with their mathematical development illustrates Gemma belief that real life experiences, led by children, embeds life-long learning. 

Elouize Newman

Deputy Manager and Play Assistant in Oaks

Elouize is our deputy manager is level 3 qualified and an experienced play leader.  Having first started with us as a volunteer after graduating with a Fine Art Sculpture Degree, she realised her real passion was to work with children and helping them to develop and learn in their own unique ways.  She is not only our resident gardener but also a very talented musician.  Elouize is passionate about using nature and our natural environment to help our children develop into confident, independent leaners and using her musical and artistic talents to enhance our children’s experiences. 

Rachel Thomas

Deputy Manager, Oaks Leader and Senco Leader

Green (wo)man of the Orchard, Rachel is a level 4 qualified Early Years Practitioner as well as being a qualified Forest School Leader.  Rachel loves nothing more than being outside, using the natural environment to create exciting experiences for our children.  Rachel is also our setting SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) and is passionate about delivering an Early Years curriculum that meets the individual needs of all our children. 

Charlotte Lambell

Acorns Leader

Charlotte is a level 3 practitioner who has many years experience working as a nanny and in nurseries. She is passionate about early years and furthering her knowledge within this profession. She has 3 dogs and loves going for walks along the river.

Esther Keenan

Saplings Leader

2003. She holds a BA in Early Childhood Studies and a PGCE in Early Years Education, specialising in Special Educational Needs. She is particularly passionate about celebrating the uniqueness of each child and developing language and communication skills. Esther has prioritised outdoor learning in her leadership roles across inner city and rural schools including a teaching stint in the desert – because all children of all ages, from all backgrounds, with all levels of communication skills thrive in learning environments that foster exploration and appreciation of the natural world. 

Lizzie Peirce

Safeguarding Officer and Staff Development Officer

Lizzie Peirce is an experienced Level 3 qualified practitioner, who has worked in Early Years and Primary school education for the last 20 years. She has specialised in working with children with special educational needs and has also set up and run a local primary schools, After School Club. Lizzie is passionate about a holistic, inclusive, care of children in early years. She is level 3 qualified in safeguarding and is our settings deputy safeguarding officer. Lizzie is also one of our qualified first aiders. Lizzie is a mum of two grown up sons and enjoys gardening, spending time with her family and walking her two dogs across Dartmoor.

Emily Whittall

Play Assistant for Oaks

Emily came to us from a background in secondary education having worked as an English Teacher for 12 years following a degree in English Literature and a Master in Education. She’s welcomed the opportunity to apply her experience to our Early Years setting encouraging children to become ever curious as they interact with the world around them.

Louise Kinnair

Play Assistant

Louise is level 2 qualified and currently working towards her level 3 qualification.  Louise has been with us for several years now and passionate about creating exciting and interesting experiences for all our children. 

Alan Boyton

Student/Play Assistant

university to study Primary Education. I’ve always wanted to work with children and help mold the minds of the future, because I think it is vital that children learn in a setting that takes pride in listening to them and understands their needs. With 7 siblings I’m experienced with having so many personalities around me which has been beneficial in making me the social butterfly I am today!

Meg Summerscale

Play Assistant for Saplings and Oaks

(Currently on Maternity Leave) Meg has completed a Foundation Degree in Early Years Care and Education.  Meg is passionate about enabling children to develop and learn through play and real-life hands-on experiences.

Robyn Harvey

Play Assistant for Acorns

Robyn holds a Level 3 qualification as an Early Years Practitioner and is an experienced Play Leader. Her previous experience includes working as a Teaching Assistant and Preschool Leader at a local Preschool. Robyn is extremely passionate about providing a stimulating and nurturing environment for our babies and toddlers to explore. In her spare time she can be found helping out on her family farm. After several years of planning and managing a self build, Robyn and her young family have recently finished converting a pig barn into their family home.

Katherine Law

Play Assistant for Oaks

Katherine has over 16 years experience working with children, ranging from seasonal work, nannying and childcare settings, including over 3 years at Orchard Preschool. In her spare time she enjoys taking her dog on nice long walks with her partner and daughter.

“An absolutely fantastic school! I cannot recommend them highly enough. My daughter is always exited to go and never wants to come home! The staff are so friendly, kind and helpful. The activities are brilliant, they have: painting, teachers of special skills, such as music, a huge amount of indoor and outdoor space and a whole garden of their own to play in and make mud pies. A brilliant place to enjoy childhood and make wonderful friends and memories.

Verity, Mum

Come and meet our team and discuss your requirements


Orchard Preschool offers nature based early years care and education for children aged one until they are ready to go to school.

Get in Touch

Get in touch to discuss your needs or book a visit:

e: orchardpreschool@gmail.com
t: 01647 277546
Lustleigh Village Hall, Lustleigh, Newton Abbot, TQ13 9TA

Opening Hours

8:30 am – 4:00 pm
8:30 am – 4:00 pm
8:30 am – 4:00 pm
8:30 am – 4:00 pm

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