Meet Our Staff
We’re proud of our teachers!
Abbey School is proud to employ teachers who are specialists in the field of primary or nursery education. Many members of staff have dedicated their teaching life to the development of educational programmes and curriculum subjects specifically designed to enrich the lives of young children.
Skills of developing self-confidence
Abbey teachers are aware that children succeed by gaining self-confidence and self-belief. Furthermore, once this can be firmly established in a young mind, the benefits to all areas of development and growth in academic success is measurable and beyond doubt. This is where the skills and knowledge of teachers dedicated to early education, coupled with informed and supportive parents, is of paramount importance to the early development of young children. This is also why our teachers achieve such truly remarkable successes for our pupils, in every field of development, whether academic or extra-curricular.
Policy for staff recruitment and training
Pupils attend Abbey School from birth to 11 years of age. In order that we can achieve our aim of providers of good quality education our staff are recruited with care from suitably qualified and experienced applicants. Members of Staff employed by Abbey School have relevant educational qualifications and receive appropriate and regular in-service training with regard to all advice from QCDA (Qualification and Curriculum Development Agency) and Ofsted (The Office for Standards in Education), regarding the health and welfare of children, all National Curriculum requirements and best current educational practice. Many staff undergo upgrading and development of their qualifications to the mutual benefit of both themselves and our pupils.
Meet our Principal
Mrs Sylvia Greinig
CertHE, BA (Hons), PGDip, MA (Exon)
I arrived at Abbey School 1979 from my role as Principal of a prep school in North Yorkshire. My particular expertise is developing educational programmes for young children, having been a school Principal now since 1970. In the late 80’s and early 90’s I was a National Curriculum Moderator in the South West Region for Key Stages 1 and 2 and spent the six years between 1997 and 2003 working for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate as an Ofsted Inspector of early years.
The main focus of my work lies in helping children to learn how to learn and amongst everything else we do in our industrious and cheerful primary school, this is something we encourage in all our pupils. My desired outcome for Abbey School is to develop independent learners. My role is to set about seeing that we do this throughout the time a child is with us so that they join their secondary school with appropriate skills and the confidence to tackle whatever comes their way.
While studying at Exeter University with the psychologist, Teri-Anne Hornby, I became interested in the work of the world-renowned philosopher, Professor Matthew Lipman and particularly in his concept of Philosophy For Children (P4C). Finally, 1996, I travelled to New Jersey, New York, USA, to study with him and his assistant, Professor Ann Margaret Sharp. We all need to learn how to think and watching thinking skills develop in young children is a revelation!
My out of school interests as a Trustee of The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (owners of Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts, Newquay Zoo and other animal and environmental entities), led directly to my return to Exeter University to complete an MA in Anthrozoology, a somewhat arcane strand of Anthropology, every minute of which I loved.
Meet our Management Team
BA (Hons), MSc
My first degree, BA Honours Geography, was followed by an MSc in Policy Research at Bristol University, after which I became a lecturer at the University of the West of England where I initiated a new department responsible for introducing life skills to adults with learning difficulty. At UWE I was also on the interviewed panel for applicants to the Social Work degree and on the assessment panel at the end of the same course.
I have taught a variety of subjects at Abbey for over a decade, whilst being variously Head of Safeguarding, Head of Health and Safety, Head of Pastoral Care and From September 2015, Y6 form teacher. There isn’t much about Abbey that I don’t know! Two of my lasting innovations in the school have been a touch typing programme and the school traffic light behaviour system. Whilst at Abbey I have also been awarded the national accolade of First Aid Trainer of the year and have taken various groups of children from Abbey to become both regional and national winners of first aid competitions.
In Abbey School we want our pupils to be happy and to grow up contributing to society. My task is to progress my pupils in all areas of their development, to give them the confidence to be their own person, ready to tackle anything. All Y6 children participate in a Civic Award, the junior version of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which, with everything else they achieve in their final year at primary school, helps to prepared them for their vital transition to secondary school.
I was delighted to join Abbey School in June 2014 as School Secretary after 8 years of experience at a large credit referencing agency.
My role is to assist both the parents and staff in the day to day running of the school so if you have any queries, I’ll be happy to help.
I’m also a mother so can relate to parents on a personal level should you have anything you’d wish to discuss.
I have a passion for music and was fortunate enough to be involved in various woodwind ensembles and a symphony orchestra throughout my life with my main instruments being the flute and violin.
Meet our Teachers & Teaching Assistants
Foundation Lead and Reception Class Teacher
After gaining a BA in Primary Education and a BSc in Early Years Development at Bristol, I returned to Torquay and taught both KS1 and KS2. I joined Abbey School in 2007, initially in the nursery and following the birth of my own son, returned to teach Y1 and I now teach in the reception class.
As Reception Class teacher, my job is to ease the transition from Nursery to the main school. I focus on developing the children’s confidence and independence, and ensuring that they feel comfortable and happy within the larger school environment. The progress children make during this year is very exciting –it’s an amazing year to teach! The Foundation curriculum introduces a variety of subjects and topics, encouraging children to build self-belief and initiative. At this stage much of this is achieved through songs, games, and practical multi-sensory activities, rather than formal written work.
Interest, enthusiasm, a desire to have a go, and an enquiring mind will give the children a firm launch pad from which to begin their educational journey.
Year 1 Class Teacher
Staying close to home, I opted to complete my teaching degree at Plymouth University where I specialised in Early Childhood Studies. My degree has enabled me to focus on the knowledge, skills and understanding to teach children and explore how children learn and develop. During my time at Plymouth University, I was fortunate enough to complete a summer teaching placement in Finland. This opportunity allowed me to experience a whole different education system where I was able to adapt my teaching to help pupils achieve their full potential from what I had learnt.
I am delighted to begin my teaching career at Abbey School, where independence is strongly encouraged so children can become responsible for their learning, which is a skill I believe is required throughout life. Year 1 is full of exciting opportunities where the children build upon their knowledge from their reception year through new topics and the National Curriculum.
BA (Hons), PGCE, MEd
Year 2 Class Teacher
I am originally from Hertfordshire and moved to Torquay having completed my first degree in music at Dartington College of Arts. I then relocated to Cheltenham for a year to study PGCE at the University of Gloucestershire. Over the past ten years I have gained experience at state and independent schools including St Margaret’s Academy and Clayesmore Prep in Dorset. Particular interests in education include music and English as well as improving motivation and confidence in the classroom which was the focus of my master of education degree. My main ethos is to encourage children to reach their full potential in a safe, productive and positive learning environment where they are allowed to learn from their mistakes and grow as learners.
I am tremendously excited at the prospect of working at Abbey School, a setting where there is as healthy a spotlight on the arts and humanities as there is academic rigour. The idea of lifelong learning is important to me (having studied for a masters degree whilst working full time) as the role of educators is to be researchers and learners as well as teachers. I look forward to the ongoing CPD opportunities offered to Abbey School as members of IAPS. In my free time I enjoy exploring Devon with my family and dog, singing with a local choir and visiting friends and family all over the country. My most enjoyable activity is, of course, spending time with my 7 month old daughter Evie, who will also be joining us at Abbey School.
BA (Hons), PGCE
Year 3 Class Teacher
I completed my BA in Geography at Middlesex University and as education is my passion I immediately trained as a teacher at the Institute of Education. From there I taught geography at schools in challenging areas of inner-London, with a focus on raising standards. I gained a wealth of experience as head of department and faculty, initially in teaching and then also in training student and Newly Qualified Teachers. Subsequently I was invited to train student teachers on the PGCE course at Middlesex University.
In 2007 I paused my career to have my children and having a family gave us the impetus to leave London and relocate in Devon. Abbey School was very much a factor in our decision to choose to live in this region. My children have thrived at Abbey School and we have all thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the school community. Having ignited my interest in the primary sector of education by volunteering for a year, I was initially appointed by Abbey School on a short contract to support Year 6 and am now delighted to be the class teacher of Year 3.
BA (Hons), PGCE
Year 4 Class Teacher
Following my first degree from Exeter University, BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Sociology, I went on to gain a Distinction in my PGCE in Primary Education from Marjon. I started my teaching career in Cornwall and moved to Abbey School in January 2013. Initially I taught Year 1, and am delighted to now be the Year 4 teacher. Children in Year 4 are well on their way to becoming independent learners, and my role is to encourage, challenge and support them in that. I personally have loved all of my learning experiences and believe that education should be ‘not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire’. My aim is to inspire a love of learning and a healthy curiousity in the children I teach.
Alongside teaching, I am also currently completing my Level 4 training as a counsellor and enjoy helping children develop their understanding of both themselves and others.
BA (Hons), PGCE
Year 5 Class Teacher
I gained a BA (Hons) in Business Communications and spent seven years teaching English in Japan. This motivated me to return to the UK to complete my Primary PGCE at Bath Spa University. I have had a wealth of experience and adventures teaching in Somerset, Jordan, Slovakia, Kent and now very happily, in Devon.
I believe in challenging children to be the best that they can be, providing opportunities for inquisitive minds and teaching from a global perspective. I aim to build confidence through encouragement and support and to make school a happy experience, which will provide a lifelong love for learning.
BSc (Hons), PGCE
Year 6 Class Teacher
After gaining a BSc in Marine Biology at Newcastle University and completing a number of conservation projects coupled with teaching English to the local people in Madagascar, The Comoros and Brazil; I moved on to complete my PGCE in Secondary Science at Reading University.
Throughout my teaching career I have taught in a number of contrasting schools enabling me to develop my teaching and thus progress the social, emotional and academic needs of my pupils. I started my career teaching Science from Year 7 to 13 and working as Head of Year 8. This was followed by a position as Head of Science in a special needs school. I believe in making my teaching challenging and engaging whilst promoting an ethos of intrigue and resourcefulness in my pupils to discover education for themselves; preparing them for a lifetime of learning and discovery.
I promote outdoor learning where suitable and prior to teaching I worked for an outdoor education company. I enjoy scuba diving, kayaking and obstacle races and completed my Gold Duke of Edinburgh whilst at school myself. I value the skill set one can develop with outdoor learning and advocate the progression of such skills in my teaching.
During my teaching career I have worked in a variety of roles in the primary sector including Class Teacher, Language Support Teacher, and County Advisor for Reading and Language Development. Additionally I have been employed as a BEd lecturer teaching art and craft at Middlesex University and also an Educational Development Tutor to NNEB students at Kensington and Chelsea College.
I have taught at Abbey School since 2005 and enjoy each day and the exciting teaching opportunities that working with primary aged children affords. I believe that all learning should have real purpose and a curriculum that challenges and excites children, at whatever academic or maturity level, leads to self-confidence, a pride in achievement, a positive attitude to learning and behaviour and above all, promotes maturing, independent learners.
In recent times I have transferred from classroom teaching to taking on the role of peripatetic Speech and Drama teacher, additionally supporting the spoken and drama part of the literacy programme in each year group in the school, which is such fun! It is wonderful to see children blossom in confidence as they learn to express themselves, first in the safe environment of their class, then in front of an audience in such as our regular teatime concerns, and eventually to receive critical appraisal from an external adjudicators in festivals and LAMDA exams.
BA (Hons), PGCE
I gained my degree at Exeter University in music and then went to complete my PGCE at Roehampton where I made a particular study on the role of arts within the school curriculum. I studied flute under Gezina Stegmann from the the prestigious Wells Cathedral school and piano with Harold Jones who was then head of the junior department at Trinity College of music. Harold Jones inspired me to explore not just music performance but chord progression and improvisation.
Over the years I have had the privilege to sing in many choirs, attending the Eton choral course and singing more recently with Counterpoint and Voces. It is from my experience of singing that has driven me to encourage both solo and group singing. I am particularly interested in engaging in music in the early years. Many studies have shown that engagement in music gives a sense of well being and promotes self-confidence. It is often through the individual music lessons that a child can gain the confidence to perform, as well as enhancing their accessibility to the rest of the curriculum.
Karla is our qualified Teaching Assistant who works supporting the teachers where they are most needed. Listening to readers, helping in cutting and sticking, supporting children when writing and completing sums are all part of a busy day for a TA. Karla’s daughter currently attends Abbey School.
Meet our Nursery Teachers & Nurses
Abbey Nursery Nurses have trained and are training appropriately in the care and education of ‘early years’, which is the care of children from babies to 8 years. They undertake regular updating in all curriculum areas as well as in safeguarding, and in health and safety matters. All, without exception, have regular updates for their first aid qualification.
Mrs Karen Hunt
NNEB Level 3
Deputy Foundation Lead and Senior Nursery Nurse
Mrs Karen Welch
Teaching Assistant Level 3
Trainee Early Years Educator
Senior Nursery Nurse
with Early Years Professional
Status, BA (Hons) OPEN in
Early Childhood Studies
Mrs Kathryn Gillard
Nursery Nurse, EYPS
Mrs Tracey Burns
Nursery Nurse and
Playworker Level 3
Mrs Natalie Law
NVQ2 and NVQ3
Mrs Zoe Whitehouse
Nursery Nurse BA Child
Development and Education,
FdA in Early Years, Care
Senior Nursery Nurse,
Level 3 Diploma for the
Early Years Workforce
Meet our Catering Team
Head of Catering and Domestic Services
Following hotel management training with Strand Hotels I was fortunate to be in one of the last cohorts of classical chef apprenticeships with that company.
This was followed by a move into the educational sector, initially training as a Kosher chef and then in chef or management roles in schools both large and well known and smaller and discrete. Industrial, military and hospital catering and my own businesses in training for the HCTB, outside catering, IT and retail were in the mix and latterly palliative care, residential home and hospital kitchen management.
I have been fortunate to have worked in both remote and dramatic locations from Algeria to Iraq via Lybia, the Gulf States, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.
Anticipating a more relaxed lifestyle and entirely better environment I moved to Devon with my family in 2014 but continued to be away from home for long periods. Happily I was offered the role at Abbey School in November of 2015 and, in this return to earlier days in my career, have rediscovered the rewards of working in a smaller, less pressured environment and particularly enjoy the interaction with our pupils and helping them to discover new tastes, textures and food experiences.