OUR STORY

A little history

The Firs School has been run by the same family for 3 generations and the family has a long-held passion to provide an exceptional education for children from 0-11 years. We work hard to provide an enriching environment and pride ourselves on our inclusive nature, nurturing care and family feel, where all members of our community; children, staff, and families feel part of our Firs family.

Tim and Jo Longman, proprietors of the Fir Cones Day Nursery and The Firs School, have been involved in the family business since 2007 and are heavily integrated into the daily life of the school. Tim and Jo ensure that the outstanding educational practice is maintained through the appointment of a Head Teacher and a strong senior leadership team. Tim and Jo run the business elements of the school and the nursery, and work closely with our senior leaders whilst also enjoying actively working with the children and parents. 

Alongside this, Jo, a fully qualified and experienced primary school teacher enjoys the opportunity to teach all of the children from Years 1-6 each week. As Executive Director Tim maintains oversite for the business but also runs a number of extra-curricular activities, including a very popular Minecraft Education after-school club.  As parents of 4 children, all of whom have been at or currently attend the school, Tim and Jo enjoy being fully involved in the life of The Firs School and The Fir Cones Day Nursery and have a genuine insight into the role from the perspective of parents and educators. 

Meet The Firs Team

Mr David Girvan

Head Teacher 

BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS at University of Wales.

After qualifying in 2010 David taught on a supply basis in Primary Schools in North Wales, before taking time out to go travelling in the United States. Whilst in America, David led the Adventure Programme at a summer camp, teaching children how to rock climb and overcome obstacles on a high ropes course. Upon his return, he took a job in Castell Alun, a high school near Mold, as a PE and cover teacher. David came to The Firs in 2013.


Tim Longman

Executive Director

B.Eng - Brunel University. 

Tim started his career as a consultant before moving into  product management in rail telecommunications working in both London and France .Tim and Jo moved to Chester in 2007 and worked alongside Tim's parents before taking full responsibility for The Firs. 

Jo Longman

Director & Year 1-6 Religious Education Teacher 

BA Hons - University of Gloucestershire and PGCE  - Swansea University

Jo has taught in primary education for over 20 years in a range of maintained and independent schools. She started her teaching career in London and worked there for 7 years before moving to and teaching in France. Tim and Jo moved to Chester in 2007 to run The Firs. 

Mrs Katherine Hague

Fir Cones Nursery Manager, Deputy Head Teacher  

 BEd (Hons) at Liverpool John Moores University.

Kathy previously taught for 27 years in a large Cheshire primary school with over half this time working across Reception and leading the 52-place maintained nursery classrooms. She believes Fir Cones should be an extension of home; a calm, caring family community where our youngest children can blossom through exploring and learning alongside each other in a natural environment.

Mrs Millie Seger-Bernard

Deputy Head, Year 4 Class Teacher, Inclusion Leader and PSHE Leader  

BA Hons in Primary Education with QTS from Durham University. Graduated in 2016

Millie has taught all year groups in Key Stage 2. Prior to teaching at The Firs she taught in two village schools in Cumbria. Having relocated during the summer of 2022. she is really enjoying working as part of The Firs family.


Mrs. Helen Jones

Fir Cones Kindergarten Leader

 BA (Hons) Early Years Practice and the Early Years Professional Status, NCFE level 2 award in safeguarding children and young people.

Helen has been working in the Fir Cones Day Nursery & Kindergarten at The Firs School since 2006, latterly as the Leader. She has a wealth of experience with young children and a passion for creating stimulating and creative learning environments where children feel safe, happy, and able to thrive.

Miss Natalie Johnson

Year 4 Teacher &  specialist Art Teacher, English Lead 

BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS from Glyndwr University.

Natalie graduated in 2012 specialising in Early Years and spent four years teaching across all age ranges in schools in Wales and England. She spent two years teaching at independent schools in  Moscow, Russia before returning back to England. 

Mrs Hayley Muddiman

Specialist French Teacher & Modern Languages Lead

Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning in Schools (RQF) HLTA.

Raised in Hoole, Hayley is a former student of our former French teacher, Mrs Wilcock. Hayley emigrated in 1997 and became an English teacher in Primary schools in the Golfe de Saint Tropez. After nearly 20 years there, she returned home with her husband and 2 children, to be near her father. She joined us here at The Firs in 2017 before taking on the role of French teacher with us.

Mrs Olivia Pemberton

Year 1 Class Teacher - Art and Design Leader

Olivia graduated from the University of Chester in 2021 specialising in Primary Education and Special Educational Needs/ Disabilities (SEND). Since then, she has spent time as a teaching assistant and a cover teacher at a large independent school before joining The Firs in Spring 2022. 

Mrs Catherine Lancley

Year 2 Class Teacher

Humanities Lead 

Catherine graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University and then started her teaching career at Lache Primary school where she taught a year 1 and year 2 class. She continued her teaching career in Yorkshire in a C of E school teaching year 3 and reception. Moving back to Chester to be nearer family Catherine taught for 20 years in local Upton schools with year groups 1,2 and 3 before joining us here at The Firs to teach year 1. 

Mrs Joanne Lowry

Year 6 Teacher and French  lead 

BA (Hons) European Studies with French, MA in Television Journalism. PGCE Primary Education with QTS, MSc in Psychology, PGDip in Family and Child Psychology.

After completing her teacher training in London, Joanne has enjoyed teaching across a number of primary schools across Cheshire and North Wales. After working across key stage 2, Joanne worked at the Joshua Tree where her role was to support children who had undergone treatment for cancer with their education. It was during this time that she completed a Masters in Psychology and a Postgraduate Diploma. Prior to her career in teaching, Joanne was a Producer at the BBC and Sky News in London.

Mrs Hannah Dunn

Year 3 Teacher & Maths Lead

Hannah graduated from Liverpool John Moores University  and then started her teaching career at Sandiway Primary school where she spent six years mostly in Years 3 and 4 but also in Year 6 during COVID times. Whilst there, she led humanities and took an active role in providing opportunities to encourage both staff and children's well-being. Now, after the birth of her first child, she has moved closer to home to continue her teaching journey here at The Firs School. 

Miss Sam Carney

FS1 Room Leader & Computing Lead

BA(Hons) Literature and Sociology PGCE Lower primary (3-7 year olds)

Sam started her teaching career in Kent before travelling to Bromsgrove International school in Bangkok, Thailand where she taught for 3 years. Upon returning to the UK in 2009 she relocated to the North West to be closer to family and friends. Sam taught for many years at a school in Trafford before working in schools around Chester and most recently at Hoylake Holy Trinity Church of England school on the Wirral.

Miss Abigail Williamson

Music Teacher & Music Lead

After completing her music degree at the University of Exeter and then her PGCE, Abigail n was keen to share her passion of music with others. She has tremendously enjoyed teaching classroom music over the last 21 years and has taught children of all ages, from Kindergarten to Year 13. She strives to provide high-quality, memorable musical experiences for children of all abilities, bringing the whole school community together. 

Mrs Holly Armour

Year 6 Teacher, PE Lead 

 BA (Hons) Primary Education with Physical Education & QTS from St.Martin's College, Lancaster

After university, Holly taught for 7 years in two different Cheshire schools, leading in the areas of PE and educational visits. After enjoying a career break to raise her two young children, Holly is delighted to be back in the classroom.

Mrs Catrin Johnson

Year 5 Class teacher & Science Lead

BSc.(Hons), MSc.(Dist.) PGCE (Dist.)

Catrin completed her PGCE at Liverpool Hope University and taught for 9 very enjoyable years across KS2 at The Grange Junior School, Runcorn. After becoming a full time mum to her two boys, she became Deputy Manager at Upton Pre-school and subsequently Early Years Practitioner at St. Michael's, Newton. She has a broad experience in developing and nurturing individual talents and personalities within KS2 and Early Years. Catrin joined the Firs Family in 2020.