Photo: members of the Kiddlywinks team.

Our Team

Karen and the Management Team work closely with Cumbria County Council early years team to enrich their own CPD and Karen currently is engaged as member of the County multi-agency teams for:

  • Special Educational Needs Support Working group
  • Early Years Strategy Group for Cumbria
  • Early Years Partnership Working Reference Group

Her involvement within these groups enables her to network with wider professionals which influence and inform future provision within Kiddlywinks and wider stakeholder practice.

There is a strong mentor and management structure in place to ensure that each unique professional has the ongoing support and the development opportunities they require to ensure children are highly enthused, confident and empowered learners who believe in themselves.

We employ two qualified Early Years Teachers and network with wider educational settings, such as health and social care provision to ensure that our team are able to access current ideas and knowledge in all areas of children’s holistic care and education.

Individuals have a vast array of specialist training to support the individual requirements of children, including:

  • Safe handling and administration of medication.
  • EpiPen delivery
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Specialist Feeding
  • British sign language
  • Makaton
  • Picture exchange cards

Our nurseries have designated Lead people for safeguarding who are all qualified to Level 3 and all have knowledge and experience of Safeguarding responsibilities and practice.

Training and Professional Development

We highly value the individuality of each person within our team and we are committed in offering ongoing wide range of training opportunities in order to develop the skills, knowledge and capabilities of our team that will secure the strongest and most powerful outcomes for each and every child who comes to play and learn.

All staff have:

  • Extensive Induction Training
  • Regular Supervisory meetings through the support of our mentorship programme
  • Paediatric First aid Training
  • Certified Safeguarding Training
  • Certified Food Hygiene/ Safe Handling of Food Training


Our selection process is rigorous, and our team are carefully selected to meet the high expectations we have when working with children. Practitioners have a background Criminal Record Check at Enhanced Disclosure level, often referred to as an Enhanced DBS. It is the highest level required for positions that can involve caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults.

The recruitment process focuses not only on qualifications but also their ability to model a kind, welcoming and outward-looking approach to life, which makes every day for a child, full of friendships, inspiring fun, keen to fulfil their achievements whilst promoting each child’s hopes for an even more exciting tomorrow.

Image: Karen James

Karen James

Whole Nursery Principal Manager, Penrith and The Meadows and wider agency Liaison Officer

Karen has an NVQ level 5 in Management, Early Years Professional Status and a First-Class BA (hons) in Early Childhood Studies. Karen is the designated person for Safeguarding, Special Needs, and Looked After children and is the nursery “Communication Champion”.

Karen manages, supervises and oversees the development and running of both Kiddlywinks and Kiddlywinks The Meadows.

Image: Natalie Metcalfe

Natalie Metcalfe

Senior Manager, The Meadows

Natalie has worked at Kiddlywinks for over 8 years and she manages and coordinates the teaching and learning experiences for the children across both nurseries. Natalie’s expertise is early years education and she works closely with all our team as a Mentor and Educational advisor. Natalie gained Qualified Teacher Status with a specialism in early years in 2008. Natalie is also one of the nurseries Special Educational Needs Coordinators and Safeguarding Link.

Image: Rachel James

Rachel James

Senior Manager and administration Manager

Rachel joined Kiddlywinks in 2004 newly qualified with a level 3 diploma in childcare and education.  Rachel gained her level 5 foundation degree in 2009.  Rachel has worked with all ages moving from a practitioner to room leader to senior manager.

Rachel is our EAL champion and supports our families with EAL. She has strong parent partnerships and is also our deputy family liaison support carer and mental health wellbeing champion,

Rachel also manages our accounts, funding administration and queries. She is also senior manager of our penrith nursery and supports the team in developing their roles and training.

Image: Krissi Pickering

Krissi Pickering

Deputy Manager, Penrith

Krissi joined the Kiddlywinks team in February 2012 after previously working in another nursery in Cumbria. Krissi was promoted to Deputy Manager at Kiddlywinks Penrith in 2015. Krissi has gained level 3 qualifications in Childcare and Education and uses her skills and knowledge to ensure the children are provided with imaginative and inspiring activities to support their individual learning interests and to support the next steps of their development. Krissi works very closely with the management team and colleagues in identifying the nursery strengths and areas for improvement and she has a lead role in training colleagues, supporting children with special educational needs and or disabilities.

Image: Kelly Bell

Kelly Bell

Duty Manager, Penrith

Kelly joined Kiddlywinks in 2004. She came to Kiddlywinks as a newly qualified practitioner and has progressed over the years to become one of our Duty Managers. Kelly has an Early Years Foundation Degree and works closely with all practitioners within the nursery ensuring they have the support they need to achieve our mission of delivering inspirational early years experiences for all Kiddlywinks children.

Image: Natalie Graham

Natalie Graham

Deputy Manager and Assistant SEND Specialist

Natalie is our deputy manager at our penrith nursery and works closely alongside the management team.. She has been part of the Kiddlywinks team since Christmas 2009. Natalie’s three children have all attended Kiddlywinks and as a result, Natalie has a true empathy with parents and knows what is important to them about having children in nursery. Natalie works in our pre-school room and has a passion for SEND, supporting Karen in delivering SEND support within the setting. Natalie has a level 3 qualification in Childcare and Education and enjoys working closely with parents to ensure that she develops strong and trusting relationships with her key families.

Image: Rosie Wilson

Rosie Wilson

Deputy manager

Rosie joined Kiddlywinks newly qualified with la level 3 diploma in childcare in 2013.  Rosie is our deputy manager and leads our toddler room at our penrith nursery.  Rosie is our communication champion for our under 2's and works closely with families to grow trusting and supportive relationships  Rosie has attended further training to develop her knowledge and supports and mentors the under2s team ensuring high quality care and education is delivered,

Image: Philip James aka Pops (Karen’s husband)

Philip James aka Pops (Karen’s husband)

Pops is our resident maintenance manager and he turns the children’s wishes for new outside resources into reality, such as the creation of the pirate ship and the development of our outside mud kitchen. Pops also occasionally supports the staff and children in the development of their DIY skills by planning and providing wood working projects, for example making bird boxes, benches, dens and large-scale collages. If we need something made or repaired good old Pops will do it!

Logos: NDNA, Early Years Alliance, I Can, Sing & Sign, Smile 4 Life