Meet Our Team

The Funics Family is growing! We love working together to bring lots of fun filled and educational activities for you and your children. Here are the people who make up our team so far…

Helen Downes

Helen Downes  Team Funics Fun with Phonics Preschool Teacher

Having trained and worked as a teacher for several years I took a career break to have my own children. Returning to work took a slight shift in direction with a wonderful few years working in the music service visiting lots of different schools, a wild foray into semi-professional photography, a stint as specialist teacher in art and music, working for several years in early years in a large school (with Rachael) and now I find myself as a storyteller and choir conductor on days when I am not wearing my Funics hat - it makes for a varied and interesting life!

It was working together in the EYFS unit of a large Worcestershire school which cemented both our friendship and a work ethic which has created Funics. We love working together, we have so much fun! And we hope we can pass both our expertise and enthusiasm to all the families we become connected with.

Rachael Hartless

Rachael Heartless Funics Fun with Phonics Preschool Teacher

I started working life as an Au Pair in the USA and then nannying in the UK. This led to teacher training and experience in a couple of small schools with mixed age classes. I have now been teaching in the same school for 13 years. Each experience has given me such an invaluable insight into how children develop and learn but none so much as the joys and challenges of having my own daughter.

Observing and helping children to overcome their challenges in learning was part of the motivation for founding Funics. So many of the challenges seemed to come from gaps in early learning and I wanted to try and help other children and their carers recognise and address these earlier.

Kerry Warwick

Funics Team Fun with Phonics Malvern Class Leader Kerry Warwick

I have always had a love of words, language and stories and I started my working life in publishing. After a few years it was time for a change and I completed my PGCE at Worcester University. I began working in a large primary school in Worcester and very quickly realised that early years education is where my heart is. I find it fascinating to see how quickly young children can develop their understanding and, with the right support, apply their skills to become readers and writers at such an early age. When I had my own children it became very clear that the skills needed for children to be able to access formal phonics in school could be fostered from a very early age, allowing children to ‘hit the ground running’. If we can catch children at their most inquisitive and investigative stage of their lives they will grow to be the most invested learners.

I had worked with Helen and Rachael for many years and when my son turned 3 they invited us to a Funics session to see what we thought. It was fantastic! They provided such a range of activities that inspired us and tackled problem areas (like scissor control and pencil grip) in a non- intrusive way. We continued to go to Funics sessions until my son went to school. He is now in Reception and has made such amazing progress with his reading and writing because he had such a strong start in his early experiences. When Helen and Rachael asked me if I might be interested in joining the Funics family I jumped at the chance! I am so excited about setting up my own classes and meeting families in the Malvern area who might be interested in this wonderful resource.