We pride ourselves on being just like a family; and like all loving families, we want the best for our family members. But, what’s our story?
Meet our founder, Lady Jayne Ackers. Jayne obtained a Bachelor of Education Degree at Bath University, and became a secondary school teacher in both Child Development and Home Economics.
After many years as a teacher, she spent the latter part of her career as a college tutor, training Nursery Nurses for the National Nursery Examination Board (NNEB).
After having adopted their first child Nicky in 1990 from Romania, and later in 1997, their daughter Harriett from China, Jayne and her late husband James soon realised that alternative childcare options were just not up to scratch. Determined to change the institutional feel to children’s nurseries and provide a second-family to children and staff, Seesaws Day Nursery & Nursery School was born in 1994.
We are now a family of 5 nurseries with pre-and-after-school clubs and 2 holiday clubs in Birmingham and Wolverhampton
What makes us different from everybody else you may ask?
Well, we put our uniqueness down to our values. Our values make us, us; they are the reason we work so well and are able to call ourselves a 'Seesaws family'.
Seesaws works because everyone comes together, even through the ups and downs.
Say hello to our senior team
Principal & Owner
Having taught Child Care at secondary school and then Sutton College for some 21 years, in 1994, my late husband and I set up our first nursery at Chester Road. As a former Health boss, James believed passionately in the importance of great quality care for children in early years and the effect it has on development in later years. We had just adopted our son from Romania where we had seen first-hand the impact of deprivation on very young children. We were determined to put our experiences and time into providing a different type of family led nursery together; one which offered flexibility and peace of mind to working parents, and made them feel confident in leaving their children with staff who would love and care for them at all times. After we adopted our daughter Harriett from China in 1997 at 10 months old, we extended our expertise to another site at Avenue Road, then to Penn in Wolverhampton, Walmley and finally Merridale in Wolverhampton in 2005. Sadly, James died suddenly in 2008 but I continued to make sure his ideals and values for the future were continued through our wonderful staff team.
My experience as Chair of Governors of a local Primary School for 21 years and as a Magistrate for 25 years, gave me insight into the needs of children and young people, both valuable in expanding the staff teams and developing transition programmes for the children in our care. I continued the teaching element in setting up a nationally recognised training scheme for our staff who wanted to further their expertise through NVQ. Consequently, Seesaws has trained over 300 young people on national apprenticeships and there is no-one in the company who is not qualified or undergoing training. In my spare time I love gardening, caravanning, and dining out with my lovely second husband Jim, who has brought great joy into our lives and is now well ensconced in the Seesaws family.
Director & Estate Manager
I trained as a Fireman in my early working life which I enjoyed for seven years. As an opportunity arose with an international tours company, I quickly moved into coach tours around Europe and Scandinavia where I spent the next 32 years. I think these two experiences gave me key skills in looking after people and meeting their needs, as well as appreciating life and seeing the result when things change so quickly. I met Jayne in Austria on holiday and as our friendship grew, I learned more and more about the complexities of the nursery business.
Jayne and I were married in December 2012 and my official title in the nursery is Estate Manager as well as being a Director. My wonderful team of guys – Paul, John and Reece in Birmingham, and Paul and Colin in Wolverhampton are responsible for keeping the nurseries looking great and staying safe places to be. Your children are amazing and we high 5 and chat with them as we go round the nurseries, teaching them gardening skills and some carpentry as we go. I am often amazed at where life has taken me, but a keen sense of understanding people and a real dollop of Scottish humour has stood me well in adapting to this new way of life.
I have four grown children myself and six grandchildren so have plenty of experience with children. I am an avid reader in my spare time, and I love to play golf and pop off to our caravan for a bit of R and R whenever we can. Jayne and Seesaws are the best thing, that have happened to me and I fully appreciate the hard work and expertise that Jayne, Claire, and their staff invest every day in the Company. Jayne often says that Seesaws is not a business, it is a way of life; I can only say how lucky the children are to have the opportunity to experience the Seesaws start to their lives.
Vice Principal & Director
Growing up I always wanted to work with children and so after gaining my NNEB qualification at Sutton College in 1992, my first role was as Nanny to 4 children which I did for 2 years. This gave me the experience and confidence to join the Seesaws family in 1994. I loved my first role at Seesaws, I was one of the first staff on site at Chester Road, working alongside Jayne Harrison who is now manager at our Avenue Road Nursery.
My enthusiasm and passion in early years soon resulted in me being promoted through the ranks to my current position as General Manager, working closely with all 5 nursery managers. I thrive on the variation as no two days are the same, and I have been honoured to have met so many lovely children and parents over the years. It is still lovely to see children that I have looked after now grown up with children of their own.
Of course, anyone who knows me knows my biggest passion is my family. In 2009 I became mum to Jake and then in 2012 Jessica. Both Jake and Jessica have been part of the Seesaws family from 6 months old and are still regular attenders of our very popular Holiday Club. They in turn have made many friends with other staff children and all have shared experiences of growing up together at Seesaws.
In my spare time I like socialising and eating out with friends and planning fun holidays with the family.
Director & Marketing Director
My parents started Seesaws when I was just 3 years old, so I have grown up knowing only this nursery business. Initially I was one of its first customers then as I got older, working part time in maintenance and then the Holiday Club. After my A ‘Levels, I was interested in property development and becoming an architect, so I took some time out to go to college and complete a BTEC Course in 3D Design where I obtained a Distinction. Through this course I was lucky to win a summer school scholarship to Harvard University (USA) to participate in Architecture for Everyone, Sponsored by RIBA.
It was during this time I really developed an interest in computer graphics and found my expertise in Photography, and upon returning to the UK, in the uncertain times of the economic recession I changed my future course. Following my father’s sudden death in 2008, I decided to stay in Birmingham and completed a BA (Honours) in Visual Communication at Birmingham City University.
So strong was the pull of Seesaws and my love of everything about its aims and values, I was appointed Marketing Director in 2012. In 2019 I became a Director of the Company and am responsible for all marketing and promotion strategies, as well as the social media and website side of the business. In addition, I have overall responsibility for the 2 Holiday Clubs we run, their budgets, planning and organisation of the trips, the itinerary and staffing. As a Director I am developing my experience in all aspects of the business with a view to be more responsible for it in the future, alongside Claire, our Managing Director.
I can often be seen driving the minibus for the children to and from their schools and for the Holiday Clubs, as I have my PSV licence. With my certificate in PAT I am also responsible for all the PAT testing across the five sites.
In my spare time I keep up with my photography and enjoy walking, visiting places and travels abroad with my fiancée Emma.
Deputy General Manager
I began working at Seesaws in February 1998 as a Level 3 NVQ trainee Nursery Assistant, which gave me the all-round experience to care for children aged 6 weeks to pre-school. After completing my NVQ, I took on a variety of roles within the company, including the ‘Holiday Club’ Manager and main key carer for pre-school.
In May 2002, I became an NVQ Trainer/Assessor/IQA, for which I hold the necessary qualifications. In January 2004, I became the Training Manager and my responsibility was to oversee the Apprenticeship training programme at Seesaws.
My role changed again in November 2019, and I am currently supporting Claire Slater with the general day to day running of the nurseries, as the Deputy General Manager.
I have two children who have both attended Seesaws. I am a big fan of socialising with family and friends, and my hobbies include keeping fit and more recently, astronomy.
Seesaws are my extended family and some of my best friends are my colleagues. I love the feeling that I am part of a family each day I go into work, and I could not imagine working anywhere else.
I started my working career in 1976 in a busy office in Birmingham City Centre as the office junior. Despite the extremely busy environment, the team spirit and camaraderie kept us all laughing through the challenging times and I made some wonderful lifelong friends. When leaving in 1996 I had gained lot of administrative experience and this gave me the confidence to go on to management roles including 10 years at the examination board before joining the Seesaws Family in March 2014 as the Chief Administrator. Here I manage the processing of payroll and pensions, various financial duties and contracts.
This was my first role in a Nursery environment and I soon realised that it was quite usual to hear children singing the "wheels on the bus" whilst trying to juggle the sometimes challenging administrative duties. This is what I probably love most about this role - I love hearing the children laughing and singing and I sometimes steal myself away for a few minutes to join in with the dancing.
I married my childhood sweetheart Paul in 1980 (who also works at Seesaws on the maintenance team). We have been very fortunate to have two wonderful daughters Hayley and Hannah, one of which lives 400 meters away and the other 4000 miles. We love travelling and especially enjoy our annual trip to Chicago to visit our daughter and husband. As I am the youngest of eight children a lot of my spare time is spent with my family who are very important to me. I also enjoy socialising with friends and visiting National Trust homes.
Director & Chairman
I have spent my whole career in organisations providing caring services to people at both ends of the age spectrum.
I was the long-term Chief Executive of a major Midlands housing association which owned and managed 5000 social housing homes, including sheltered housing and extra care housing for the elderly. After my “formal” retirement I became interim Chief Executive for two years of an organisation specialising in housing and care for people with learning disabilities. I also joined the Board of a significant social housing provider in the East Midlands where I became Group Chair; a position I held until my term of office expired in 2019.
Over the years I have been recognised as a specialist in governance and have been a statutory appointee to the Boards of many organisations whose performance required strengthening.
During my career I have also been a university lecturer. With my work being widely recognised I received the honour of being awarded the position of Visiting Fellow at Birmingham City University.
It is this background and experience that has suited me well in developing and upholding the aims of Seesaws where the care, support, and education of all the children is paramount. I am passionate about ensuring Seesaws’ environment provides the best possible opportunities for all the children to fulfil their potential and set them on course for later life.
In my spare time, I enjoy golf and I am currently the President of my club.
Julie Pedley Smith
Director & Accountant
I am a qualified accountant and as such, widely respected for the supportive business and financial advice I give to small and medium sized enterprises. I trained with the prestigious accountancy firm KPMG and following qualification moved into industry, undertaking broader management roles.
In 2000 I established my own accountancy practice.
In 2009 I was pleased to be invited to join the Seesaws family and work with a group of people who are both dedicated and enthusiastic about what they do. In 2012 I was appointed to the Board of Directors.
To be effective in any finance role I believe it is important to be involved and to understand the culture and ambitions of an organisation, and it is this aspect of Seesaws that I enjoy. I am particularly proud to be part of a team that is passionate about the care of children as I personally feel this is so important in helping to shape young lives.
My strong financial expertise supports the management team, helping Seesaws to flourish and prosper, ensuring it can continue to offer its unique service to both parents and children.
Outside of work, I love spending time with my family and friends, enjoying fine wine and food, pilates and doggy walks.