Dr Sarah Hale

BA, MA, DPhil, MEd, PFHEA.

Department for Lifelong Learning

Director of Education

Programme Director for Social Sciences

Senior University Teacher

A photo of Sarah
Profile picture of A photo of Sarah

Prior to joining the Department for Lifelong Learning in 2012, I 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. Most of my career has therefore been spent teaching mature and other ‘non-traditional’ students, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I began my own 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.

I’ve been a local authority councillor, and a founding member and Company Secretary of a large community development association, involved in local regeneration partnerships. I have undertaken consultancy work for the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Higher Education Academy.

When not working, I enjoy an obsession with historic canal boats, and spend most of my spare time and money on my 1937 Grand Union Large Woolwich 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

My research background is in Politics, and particular interests over the years 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. My 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

I convene Academic Literacy and Communication Skills and convene and teach Introduction to the Social Sciences. I also teach on Extended Project and act as personal and project tutor to Law, Criminology, and Politics students.

In 2022, I 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

I am Departmental Director of Education. I also currently act as the Department's Examinations Officer and Unfair Means Officer.  I handle academic appeals for DLL and am DLL’s Information Champion.

Institutional roles

I am a member of Senate, having first been elected in 2020, and am currently sit on the Quality and Scrutiny Sub-Committee.  

I currently act as project support to the institutional task and finish group on Bursaries and Scholarships.

Having been diagnosed as autistic in 2015, I am keen to promote understanding of and respect for neurodiversity across the University. I co-founded the (Unofficial) Autistic Staff Peer Support Group and played a key role in the establishment of the Staff Disability Network as an independent campaigning force for disabled staff at the University, serving as Secretary from 2020-2023. 

External roles

I am Policy Officer for the Foundation Year Network and have been an elected member of the Network’s Executive Committee since 2017. 

I was one of the founding co-editors of the Journal of the Foundation Year Network in 2018 and am currently Lead Editor.

I currently serve as External Examiner for the Astrophoria Foundation Year for Politics, Philosophy and Economics and the University of Oxford, and for the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Leeds. I have 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, and have previously been an external examiner at the Universities of York and Edinburgh. 

  • Foundation Years and Why They Matter (ed., forthcoming 2024) co-edited with Stephen Leech, Emerald.
  • ‘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
  • Fees cut will undermine the foundations of opportunity’ (2022) WONKHE blog, April 4th 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
  • '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