Our caring, creative, and observant staff are our greatest resource at Lake Street Nursery. The children benefit from having a small team of passionate educators and caregivers, each bringing unique perspective, skills, and personality. We have an ongoing programme of staff training and career development opportunities to support our staff to really build on their particular areas of interest within the Early Years framework.

Catherine Morey


PGCert in Education (PGCE) Systems Leadership
Level 6 qualification in Child Care.

Catherine has been the manager at Lake Street since 2000, and before then was involved as a parent and and committee member. She lives in South Oxford with children at local schools.

Catherine has lead in transforming Lake Street to a five day a week nursery setting, and registered charity, from its beginnings as Lake Street Playgroup. She is a valued leader in Oxfordshire Early years community and offers peer-to-peer support of other independent early years settings in Oxfordshire.

Catherine is our Special Educational Needs Coordinator, SENCO.

Ben Haydon

Room Lead and SEND support Fridays

B.A. (Hons) Outdoor Education
Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Workforce as an Early Years Educator.

Ben joined us in 2015. He has taken the lead on development of the outside area and our eco-literate approach to learning outside.  He is able to deputise when Catherine is absent, and takes a lead on overseeing our FAMLY app

For many years he has been Key Person for the Green Group but during 2021-22 he is reducing his hours to support us on Fridays only while he cares for his young daughter at home.

Ben was and was previously a Forest School Teacher, before re-training as an early years practitioner. He is an active member of the local community and runs the Hogacre Eco-Park in Grandpont.

Our newest member of staff Sophie Foster takes over care and support of the Green Group from July 2021. She has recently completed her Early Years Degree at Brookes University and is being mentored by Ben. She and Saira work together as buddies in the Green/Red Key Base group.

Parents say:

“My little girl loves Ben! And I love overhearing his jokes and banter with the kids at drop off and pick up time, he really hooks them all into playing around with language, and having fun with their imagination.”

“I usually see Ben with his jacket pockets overflowing with various children’s favourite soft toys or comfort blankies from home – I think that really says something about the kind of safe base he is for the children, that they totally entrust him with those when they arrive, and it helps them relax and settle into their day”.

“Ben is so gentle and observant of all the little details that make up a toddler’s experience; in each of his comments about the day, we recognise our daughter instantly. We love knowing she is with someone who really sees her and ‘gets’ all her little individual quirks.”

Saira Afzal

Key Person, Red group

Level 3 Diploma, Child Care and Education

Saira joined the team in 2006. She has a special interest in developing cooking and food related activities for the children, and introducing children to foods and experiences from a variety of cultures. She has undertaken numerous training courses whilst working at Nursery and is an calm, knowledgeable and experienced practitioner

Saira has had experience as acting deputy and running sessions. She is looking forward to further study in Early Years Education, alongside her work at Nursery.

Parents say:

“Saira is incredibly creative and thoughtful in her approach. I love the way she takes the time to really understand my son, and the way she takes his point of view seriously. He had a spell where he refused to use the toilet at nursery. I couldn’t figure it out. Saira talked to him and got under the skin of what he was worried about, and then they used his own ideas to make a plan together that really worked!”

“ I chatted to Saira once about how she chooses activities for the day and was fascinated at how effortlessly she held in mind the physical development, emotional needs, learning needs, attention span, social skills and so on of each of the children in her group as she planned what looked on the surface like a ‘simple’ task of cutting and gluing, or a ‘simple’ yoga session. She really is very skilled at her job!”

Jess Filer

Key Person, Yellow group

Level 3 Diploma, Children and Young People’s Workforce
Level 2 Diploma, Food Preparation, Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Jess is an enthusiastic and experienced early years practitioner, and joined Lake Street in 2015.

Jess loves helping the children learn signs alongside their rhymes and songs, and has championed signing at Lake Street. She is the main organiser and leader of our lively Music and Movement sessions each day. She also has experience in supporting children with autism spectrum disorders.

From July 2021 Jess takes over being Room Lead across the week from Ben and is able to Deputise for Catherine in her absence.

Parents say:

“Jess is a kind soul and has an innate ability to make children feel like they belong. If my toddler is ever having a wobble, she knows exactly what to say, or which activity to suggest, to cheer her up”. 

“The children gravitate towards Jess because she genuinely cares for them, and they trust her . I once saw a new child who was nervous about coming in the gate on his first week. Jess just sat down on the ground right at the gate with him, and stayed with him gently as he looked around the garden from there. I turned around a few minutes later and Jess was still sat on the ground just inside the garden gate with him, he was still there and she was reading him a story, and now there was not just one child, but a whole pile of children on her lap and all clustered around too!”

“Jess has a real cheeky side that the children love. She’s not afraid to be silly, sing their favourite songs or do things to make them laugh. She’s just great fun as well as being warm and caring. My daughter can’t wait to tell me what she’s been doing with Jess every time I pick her up.”

Shikha Christopher

Key Person, Blue group

Level 3 Diploma, Child Care and Education.

Shikha joined the team in 2016. She especially enjoys reading to the children, and bringing stories to life with puppets and props.

She has several years experience as an early years educator, and has training in signing.

Parents say:

“Shihka has such a loving and motherly warmth! I think her special power is making toddlers – especially the shy ones – believe in themselves, and it’s wonderful to watch them grow in confidence with her gentle support”. 

Shikha is really good at nurturing their creativity. She has a way of spotting something a particular child enjoys, and then from there, encouraging them to push themselves to learn and grow.” 

Caterina Bowley


Cat joined our team in 2012. She’s our friendly and efficient administrator, and the person you’ll probably meet first when you contact nursery.

The children enjoy ‘visiting’ Cat in her office, and love it when Cat sometimes pops in to join them for story time, cooking or playtime too.

Cat lives locally in South Oxford, and has special interest in cooking and catering. From September 2021 Cat will be assisting us with our Extended Hours offer on Tuesday and Wednesday to plan and involve the children in preparing a simple tea together at the end of their day.