Staff

My name is Claudia Miller and it has been my dream for many years to lead a school like Smarden. I graduated from Leeds University with a degree in Russian and went to work for Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service. I travelled to Ethiopia and Kenya and had many exciting adventures before having my first son Alex when I was 25. I went into teaching as a second career after ten years as a busy Mum of six children. My daughter with special needs was treated very badly at her primary school; I found the system so hard and her school wouldn't listen, nobody would teach her to read; I got angry and wanted to do it better. So I became a teacher, and then a Senco, and then a Headteacher. I am still trying, to this day, to make the educational system the very best it can be for every child, no matter their ability, and to ensure that every parent is listened to. I remarried three days before I started at Smarden and now have 10 children, 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 2 guinea pigs. In my rare spare time, I like walking my dogs with my husband and going to Wales.

After a short spell as a professional and semi professional footballer (mainly in the North and later on in Holland) I graduated from Lancaster university and then worked for a short time with adults teaching basic literacy and numeracy skills in Liverpool where I am from. I moved to London to train to teach primary children in the late 80s and then worked in Lewisham as primary teacher and then Deputy Head Teacher. I worked in Tower Hamlets and then became the Head Teacher of the school in Lewisham where my career had begun. I moved after 12 years as Head there to a position of Executive Head Teacher across two schools in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey and after spending 5 years there I moved back to London to become Head Teacher of a large primary in Redbridge where I have loved being for the last 5 years of my career. In August 2023, after loving it for 21 years, I retired as  a Head Teacher and was delighted to find my current part time role doing what I love ie Special needs and inclusion, at Smarden Primary school. I love being here and to quote my wife : "Well retirement didn't last long did it?!!"
I have 3 amazing grown up children who I am immensely proud of and I live in Wateringbury with my wife Gill and our dog Archie. When I am not enjoying being at Smarden I work on my allotment, coach other leaders in schools in Kent and London and volunteer at an all through special school in Maidstone as a governor. I love to cycle on my road bike and watch my beloved Tranmere Rovers when there is any spare time. 

Teachers

Hello. I’m Lara Ward and one of the newest members of the Smarden team. I have a degree in Geography from the University of Manchester, and completed my PGCE in London after travelling around the world. Before my PGCE I worked as a teaching assistant in London. I have taught in Early Years and Key Stage One in both London and Kent, and am delighted to be teaching Blyton class this year. I am passionate about creating a caring and nurturing classroom environment, where children are able to thrive. I am from Whitstable originally and love spending time at the seaside. I also enjoy reading, gardening, yoga and spending time with my young family.  

My name is Rosy Almond. I feel very privileged to be joining the Smarden team this year, teaching in Blyton Class. I graduated from Leeds University with a degree in History before completing my teacher training in London. Most of my teaching experience has been in London where I spent over 10 years working in two wonderful schools. I moved to Kent 5 years ago just before my first daughter was born and enjoyed working in two job shares before having my second daughter. I am really looking forward to being back in the classroom; I love the energy and enthusiasm that children have. I am particularly passionate about the creative side of teaching and learning (especially art and design) and hope that above all, the children in my care feel safe, have fun and are happy and motivated. My daughters (5 and 2) ensure that I very rarely have much free time, but when I do, I enjoy gardening, reading and crafting. Currently I am working on my dressmaking and knitting skills; hopefully in time for some winter woollens!

I am Hannah Powell and I am Year 1 Teacher at Smarden Primary School. I have worked closely with children for over 10 years, in Early Years Settings as a Room Leader and as a Nanny for families in Australia and the UK. I hold a BA hons Degree in Early Years Leadership and thoroughly enjoyed becoming a qualified teacher through the SCITT course. I can not thank Team Smarden enough for their expertise and support. I am now a 2nd Year ECT and I am very eager to introduce and embed continuous provision within Year 1. I am excited to lead PSHE /Jigsaw at Smarden as I am very passionate about emotional development and wellbeing.

In my free time I am either busy riding my 6 year old Clydesdale, Aspen, walking along the beach or catching up with friends and family. 

Hello, my name is Holly Coventon and I am thrilled to join the amazing team at Smarden Primary, teaching in the year 3 Sassoon class.

I have a degree in History from the University of Kent in Canterbury and completed my PGCE last July. I am very excited to have my own class this year and create a safe, happy and hard-working environment for my students to flourish!

I am really passionate about History, i think the past is so fascinating and can teach us so much about life today. In my spare time i enjoy spending time with my family and friends and i love to get lost in a book!

Hi, my name is Rebecca Edmondson and I have been teaching for 9 years. I completed my degree in Psychology which led me to work with children within education and went on to complete a PGCE in Primary school teaching.

I have two young boys who keep me very busy at home. We love to be outdoors exploring, playing sports and of course playing superheros. I will be overlooking the PE at Smarden and my favourite sport is skiing. 

Hi, I'm Emma Leeks and I joined Smarden as a TA in 2020. I graduated from Winchester University and after some travel adventures, settled in Watford where I met my husband and spent my first few years teaching. Originally from Kent, we moved back home to raise our young family, where I took a break from teaching to focus on running my childminding business. I'm now loving being back in a school environment and working as part of a wonderful team. I am a proud mum of two girls and when away from work, I enjoy family dog walks, reading and exploring new places. I am looking forward to teaching Donaldson Class one day/week as well as being the TA in the class for the rest of the week.

Hi, I'm Rachel Pickering and feel honoured to be a part of the amazing team at Smarden. I am passionate and motivated to ensure that every child I teach learns to the best of their ability in an exciting and engaging classroom environment. 

I studied Early Childhood and French in Canterbury before completing my PGCE in Primary Education in 2007. Since then I have had many exciting adventures in a variety of year groups - I couldn't have asked for a more rewarding career.

I live with my husband and three children who keep me busy when I'm not in the classroom - we love to go on bike rides and muddy puddle walks. I'm also a lover of ballroom and latin dancing - I competed successfully until I was 16, even competing in the famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom!

Hello, my name is Thomas Dixon and I am currently completing my SCITT year as a trainee teacher. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to do this at Smarden School, with which I have a long association as a parent and governor. 


I am training across the 7 to 14 age range, meaning that I have the opportunity to teach in both primary and secondary schools. For the first part of this school year I taught mathematics in a secondary school, teaching maths classes in years 7, 8, and 9. 


I have particular interests in maths, history, art, emotions, and wellbeing.


Prior to training as a school teacher I was a university academic, working as a Professor of History at Queen Mary University of London. This involved writing books and making podcasts and BBC radio programmes about the history of emotions, and working with TKAT to develop a series of lessons about emotions for primary schools. 


I live a few miles away from Smarden with my wife, two boys, and two cats. I love walking in the countryside, music, cooking, and photography.

Teaching Assistants

Hi, I’m Emma Leech and I’m a teaching assistant in early years in Reception class. Prior to becoming a teaching assistant, I was a production engineer for a tool making company. I gained qualifications in engineering and remained in the industry for 18 years.
I made the decision to leave engineering behind and pursue a career as a teaching assistant when my daughter was about to start school herself. I started my new venture in Smarden pre-school, where I trained and gained experience and qualifications in working in early
years. I remained at pre-school for 4 years, until I was offered a teaching assistant position at Smarden Primary.  I enjoy helping to teach the fundamentals alongside the class teacher and getting to know each child who starts in reception. I live locally to the school and enjoy long walks in the beautiful countryside we live in, photography, music, films, teaching church bell ringing and most of all baking cakes.

Hello! My name is Mrs Avery and I am currently a T.A in Blyton Class,  which I love as we have such a friendly unit here at Smarden school. Prior to working here, I spent 15 years working in the Art Gallery and Retail sector, working my way up to area management before taking time out to raise a family. I have a lifelong experience of working with children, especially those with S.E.N.D due to familial circumstances. I have EYF Qualifications in Childcare and Development, and I'm currently taking a higher level SEN qualification. My hobbies include reading, writing, archeology, pinhole photography and anything creative. Honesty, integrity , and kindness are important to me, and qualities we strive to instill in  our children here at Smarden school. 

My name is Mrs Lauren Rivett. I'm proud to be a part-time TA for Austen Class and also the After School Club manager. I am excited to have joined the wonderful team at Smarden Primary as of September 2022. I have long harboured a love for the village and its community and feel honoured to be at the heart of that by being a part of the school. My younger siblings both attended Smarden primary after our move from Essex in 2007 and I immediately fell in love with the kind, nurturing and encouraging environment. I have been lucky enough over the years to occasionally help out within the pre-school and various other events but to be given the opportunity to be here on a permanent basis is very exciting.

In my spare time I love reading books, cooking, being among nature (particularly in Autumn) and spending time with my family including my one year old daughter Lorelai and my two house rabbits.

My name is Sian Thomas and I am the Breakfast Club manager at Smarden Primary School.

I have lived in Smarden for 8 years and my daughter attends the school. I've worked with children since leaving school myself and also a qualified youth worker. I enjoy working with children and being part of their learning and education journey. I still remember my primary school teachers and hope the children here will have fond memories of their primary education and that I can be a part of this.

I am Welsh, support Liverpool FC and enjoy playing football.

I've worked at the village community store and enjoy being part of the community and giving back to the local area helping people.

I'm Kathy Wilson. I am a HLTA and have worked at Smarden Primary for over 12 years. Prior to that I was manager of Smarden Pre-School and have worked in education for over 30 years including 6 years for the NHS working in Special Needs.

I am Mum to 4 grown up children, who all attended this school. I am a Parish Councillor and Treasurer/secretary for two of the village charities, The Dadson and Jacob Turner and a trustee for Smarden Orphan support.

I love reading, swimming, spending time with my Grandson and walking my dog Mabel. Some of you may have spotted me walking her around the village!

Hi, I'm Emma Leeks and I joined Smarden as a TA in 2020. I graduated from Winchester University and after some travel adventures, settled in Watford where I met my husband and spent my first few years teaching. Originally from Kent, we moved back home to raise our young family, where I took a break from teaching to focus on running my childminding business. I'm now loving being back in a school environment and working as part of a wonderful team. I am a proud mum of two girls and when away from work, I enjoy family dog walks, reading and exploring new places. I am looking forward to teaching Donaldson Class one day/week as well as being the TA in the class for the rest of the week.

Hi, I’m Mrs Hammick and I am really excited to be working as a Teaching Assistant in both Sassoon and Rowling class this year. I graduated from the University of Brighton as a secondary school PE teacher and worked in 2 different schools before taking a career break to have my family. I love working with children and have a passion for encouraging the enjoyment of physical activity within the school community.
In my free time I love to be out in the great outdoors with my family. I enjoy long geocaching walks, stand up paddle boarding and have played in the same ladies netball team for the last 28 years.

Nursery

Hello! My name is Laura and I live in Cranbrook with my husband, two children and our lovely cockapoo, Ruby. I moved to Kent from London in 2015. I really enjoy living in a more rural part of the world and like to get outside often with my family, and Ruby, of course! I like keeping fit and healthy and do yoga and spinning. I'm the lead Nursery teacher here at Smarden Nursery School. I'm a qualified teacher and have taught in Nursery, Reception and Year One, in a range of different schools. My heart lies in Early Years and it is a privilege and joy to work with the littlest children. I think there's something magical about learning through play and seeing children develop holistically. I'm so lucky to work with such a great team of practitioners at Smarden and together we create a happy, caring and purposeful atmosphere. 

Associate Staff

Roles and Responsibilities of the Senior Leadership Team at Smarden Primary and Nursery School

Headteacher, Attendance Lead and Designated Safeguarding Lead - Mrs Claudia Miller

Inclusion Manager - Mr Steve Davies

Subject Leaders at Smarden

Overall Curriculum Leader - Mrs Claudia Miller

Reading and Writing Leader - Mrs Rachel Pickering

Phonics Lead: Miss Hannah Powell

EYFS lead: Mrs Laura Rowland

Mathematics Leader - Mrs Ellie Warner

Art and DT Leader - Mrs Rosy Almond

Modern Foreign Languages (French) Leader - Rachel Pickering

Science Leader - Mrs Claudia Miller

History Leader - Mrs Lara Ward

Geography Leader - Mrs Lara Ward

Woodland Warriors Leader- Mrs Lara Ward

Physical Education Leader - Miss Rebecca Edmondson

Computing Lead - Mrs Ellie Warner

Music Lead - Mrs Claudia Miller

PSHE and RE Lead - Mrs Emma Leeks