Dr Sarah Hale

BA, MA, DPhil, MEd, PFHEA.

Department for Lifelong Learning

Programme Director: Foundation Programme

Director of Education

A photo of Sarah
Profile picture of A photo of Sarah

Prior to joining the Department for Lifelong Learning in 2012, Sarah spent five years in the Faculty of Lifelong Learning at Birkbeck, University of London, and previously held posts at the universities of Huddersfield and Portsmouth.

She has undertaken consultancy work for the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Higher Education Academy.

Sarah began her first degree as a 29-year-old single parent, having previously worked (among other things) as a cleaner, a supermarket checkout operator, and a cook in a care home.

She has been a local authority councillor, and a founding member and Company Secretary of a large community development association, involved in local regeneration partnerships.

When not working, Sarah enjoys an obsession with historic canal boats, and spends most of her spare time and money on her 1937 Grand Union Large Woolwich motor Chertsey.

  • BA (First Class Hons) in Politics (Sussex, 1997)
  • MA in Social and Political Thought (Sussex, 1998, AHRB funded)
  • DPhil (Sussex, 2003, ESRC funded)
  • PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in HE (Portsmouth, 2004)
  • MEd (Sheffield, 2019)
  • SFHEA (2018)
  • PFHEA (2021)
Research interests

Sarah’s research background is in Politics, and particular interests have included political discourse, higher education policy, local government and the politics of community.

Current interests include both pedagogical and political aspects of foundation year provision. Her recent article, ‘The Class Politics of Foundation Years’ (Journal of the Foundation Year Network 2021), examines practitioner perceptions of the role of foundation years in working class students’ access to, experiences of, and outcomes from higher education.

Teaching activities

Sarah convenes Academic Literacy and Communication Skills and convenes and teaches Introduction to the Social Sciences. She also teaches on Extended Project and acts as personal and project tutor to Law and Politics students.

In 2022, Sarah was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Practice, nominated by students on Introduction to the Social Sciences.

Professional activities and memberships

Departmental roles

Sarah is DLL’s Director of Education. She is currently the Department's Examinations Officer and handles academic appeals for DLL. She also acts as DLL’s Information Champion.

Institutional roles

Within the wider University, Sarah represents DLL on the Extra-Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee and sits on the Quality and Scrutiny Sub-Committee. She is a member of the Student Conduct and Appeals Panel, and was elected to Senate in 2020. 

Having been diagnosed as autistic in 2015, Sarah is keen to promote understanding of and respect for neurodiversity. She co-founded the (Unofficial) Autistic Staff Peer Support Group and is Secretary to the University Disability Staff Network.

External roles

Sarah is Policy Officer for the Foundation Year Network and has sat on the Executive since 2017. 

She is a founding co-editor of the Journal of the Foundation Year Network. 

Sarah is External Examiner for Foundation Years and open access provision at the University of Edinburgh, and for the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Leeds. She has acted as external expert for the validation of new foundation years at Newman , Swansea and Bournemouth Universities, and for a comprehensive curriculum review at Durham.

  • ‘Weathering a Perfect Storm: How Will Foundation Years Fare in a Changing Policy Environment?’, presentation and panel, Foundation Year Network Annual Conference, Aston University, July 2022
  • ‘Foundation Years: Undoing Discourses of Deficit - response to Hall et al’ (2021) in M. Seal (ed.) Hopeful Pedagogies in Higher Education, London, Bloomsbury, 2021
  • ‘The Class Politics of Foundation Years’ Journal of the Foundation Year Network Vol. 3, December 2020
  • ‘Full university membership or throwing them to the lions? Three narratives on the role of foundation years in working class inclusion’, Foundation Year Network Annual Conference, University of East Anglia, July 20th, 2020
  • ‘Tunnelling into the Ivory Tower (and Other Stories about Foundation Years and Social Class)’ University of Sheffield Learning and Teaching Scholarship Showcase, June 1st, 2020
  • ‘Something to be? Social mobility and agency in the Foundation Year classroom’ (with Willy Kitchen), Foundation Year Network Annual Conference, University of Sussex, July 2019
  • ‘Surveying the Foundations: The Purposes of Assessment at Foundation Level and how best to achieve them’, Journal of the Foundation Year Network Vol. 1, December 2018 https://jfyn.co.uk/index.php/ukfyn/article/view/24/18
  • 'Education for Modernisation? The impact of Higher Education member development programmes on councillors' perception and performance of their roles', Local Government Studies 39:4 June 2013