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We are very proud of the fact that we are a personal, family run nursery, with its history going back to 1948. In that year Dorothy McKenzie, the mother of The Learning Tree’s founder Joan, established the first McKenzie Day Nursery in Priory Road West Hampstead.

The McKenzie Day Nursery in 1948 and founder Dorothy McKenzie:

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In 1954 the nursery moved to Abbey Road, where it remained for 40 years until 1994 when we moved to our present site in Quex Road after Joan McKenzie took over the running, and re-named it The Learning Tree. In October 2016, Joan passed ownership of the nursery on to her sister-in-law Celia McKenzie, maintaining the family-owned tradition.

So to date we have provided 73 years of uninterrupted nursery-age childcare. In that time we have had generations of parents bringing their children to the nursery who themselves were at the nursery as children. In December 2018, we received a GOOD rating at our Ofsted inspection.

The fundamental aim has always been to provide a very personal approach to childcare for the local community at reasonable cost, and we continue with that ethos to this day.

We consider that our staff team is our most important resource. We have an exceptional record of staff retention and continuity, giving confidence to children and to parents. All our team form positive relationships with all the children: additionally each child is allocated a member of staff as their key worker with additional responsibilities.



Celia McKenzie – Nursery Proprietor

My great passion is working with the children to help them to achieve their best potential at the Early Years stage. I have two grown up children of my own and a granddaughter, a Masters Degree in International English Teaching, NVQ level 3 Early Years Education, and over twenty years experience working professionally with children. The Learning Tree’s greatest asset is the enthusiastic and motivated staff team, who all love their work. It is important to me to have a close relationship with parents, their children and the staff, so together we plan the best for each individual child.



Joan McKenzie – Nursery Consultant

Having retired from ownership of the nursery, I now act in a consultative role as I like to keep in touch with The Learning Tree after spending so many happy years overseeing its development and maintaining its ethos as a close knit family run nursery. I have a family of five adult children including a daughter with visual and physical disabilities. My greatest reward is when parents tell me how much their children enjoy coming to the Learning Tree, as it is only through being happy and secure that young children will flourish and achieve their potential. It has been wonderful to see children (and even parents too!) grow in confidence during their time here.


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Shilpa – Manager & Safeguarding Officer

I have two teenage daughters, and with over 20 years experience of working with young children, I have developed into a multi-facetted practitioner who has gained the knowledge, training and life experiences enabling me to ensure that the wellbeing of young children is paramount. I maintain effective working relationships and liaise with others to promote a caring and sharing environment. My love of working with children with special and additional support needs enables me to continue to develop my knowledge and understanding of child development and learning.


Leila – Early Years Educator

I moved to London from Manchester in 2008, with my husband and daughter. I am qualified to NVQ level 2,  hold a BA in Clinical Psychology and an M.A in Psychosocial Studies and Education at The Institute of Education, University of London. I initially joined the Learning Tree as a volunteer, having completed my NVQ training in Manchester. I was very happy subsequently to be asked to join the staff team as I enjoy being in this warm social environment, where I can help and assist young children at the beginning of their journey, at a time when they learn so much so quickly.

I gained my I.L.M Level 3 Leadership and Management in 2014.

Caroline – Early Years Educator

I live locally and am a mother of two boys who attend local schools. Before joining The Learning Tree I worked in various Early Years settings, with children aged birth – 5 years. I am qualified to NVQ level 3 (Cache Diploma) and have good knowledge of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and how young children learn at a young age. I came to The Learning Tree nursery in February 2014 and I am really enjoying working in such a friendly, family orientated atmosphere.


Nerina – Room Leader

I came to work at the Learning Tree Nursery in September 2014, and am qualified to NVQ level 2. I am a mother of three. Two of my children were past pupils of The Learning Tree Nursery. My experience as a parent when my children attended was very positive and I felt supported by all the staff when both my son and my daughter attended.  My children are now attending a local primary and secondary school.  I enjoy working with young children and contributing to their early learning and development.  I look forward to working with parents and furthering my knowledge with the Early Years Foundation Stage. I have worked in both a mainstream primary school and a school for children with disabilities.


Sharron – SENCO, Deputy Manager & Deputy Safeguarding Officer

I have been associated with the Learning Tree for over 18 years, when my eldest daughter attended, then as a member of staff for four years. I left to extend my family and after having two more daughters, who are past and present pupils of the Learning Tree. I am NVQ level 3 qualified in Childcare and Education.

My role within the nursery as the SENCo involves me working particularly with Special Needs children to help in their development: a fulfilling role which I love.

I believe that The Learning Tree Nursery enables children to adapt to school life easier, after gaining social, emotional and personal skills in a friendly environment.

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Lina – Room Leader

I have spent several years in childcare and am qualified to NVQ level 3.  I am happy to be part of a friendly team dedicated to the children in our care.

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Leigh – Early Years Educator

I have many years experience working with children of all ages, am qualified to QTS level 6, and love the challenges that working with early years children brings.  We all work together at the Learning Tree as a happy team to give those in our care the best possible start in life.

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Debbie – Room Leader

I worked in NHS management for ten years before qualifying to NVQ level 3 in childcare, for which I have a great personal passion. I love helping children develop and grow to fulfill their highest possible potential in the happy environment of The Learning Tree.


Eva – Early Years Educator

I am qualified to NVQ level 4, and very much enjoy being part of the Learning Tree Team helping children to fulfil their potential.

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Rukiya – Early Years Educator

I started at the Learning Tree as a student volunteer in 2018, am now qualified to NVQ level 2, and have joined the staff team at the Learning Tree. I look forward to contributing my skills and doing the work I love for the benefit of the children.


Maria – Nursery Assistant

I have two children of school age, and very much enjoy working at The Learning Tree as a Nursery Assistant, while also training up to NVQ level 3. I worked extensively in childcare before the arrival of my own children, and love helping to nurture the development of young minds during the Early Years stages in the happy close knit environment we have here.


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