Dr Sarah Hale awarded Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy

Congratulations to Dr Sarah Hale, Foundation Year Programme Director in the Department for Lifelong Learning, who has been recently recognised as a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) for her leadership work around the Foundation Year.

Principal Fellowship of the HEA is a prestigious honour that recognises a sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning. Sarah joins 10 colleagues who have achieved PFHEA status in the University. Earlier this year, five colleagues were announced as Principal Fellows of the Higher Education Academy.

The Department for Lifelong Learning offers degrees with a foundation year for mature students who are returning to education. The courses are designed to give mature learners without standard university entry qualifications the best possible preparation for success on the course of their choice. Sarah’s work focuses on enhancing assessment for learning, Quality Assurance policies and processes, and developing new foundation year routes, alongside teaching design and delivery and oversight of the programme.

Find out more about Sarah’s work and achievements:

“I was twenty-nine and a single parent when I began my Politics BA in 1994. In the preceding ten years I had worked in a supermarket, as a cleaner, and as a cook in a care home. It is impossible to overstate how going to university changed my life. This has motivated and driven me throughout an academic career in which I have specialised in the learning and teaching of mature and ‘non-traditional’ students - on evening-taught part time degrees from 2006 and, since 2014, on foundation years.

“I fervently believe in the right of everyone, regardless of age, background or income, to access high quality higher education. But access is only the beginning, when HE, especially in elite institutions, is an inherently middle class environment, presupposing and predicated upon culturally specific knowledge and behaviours. By providing a safe and supportive setting within the University, foundation years are uniquely well placed to prepare students to succeed in that environment.

“As well as my work at Sheffield, where I focus on enhancing assessment for learning, Quality Assurance policies and processes, and developing new foundation year routes, alongside teaching design and delivery and oversight of the programme, the PFHEA panel also recognised the work I do with the national practitioner body, the Foundation Year Network (FYN).

“I’ve been a member of the Executive Committee since 2017, have played a leading role in establishing FYN as an incorporated body, and am a founding editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of the Foundation Year Network, as well as being the Network’s Policy Officer, engaging nationally and with government to promote and defend foundation year provision.

“As the second colleague working on foundation years in the Department for Lifelong Learning to achieve PFHEA status, I’m very proud on behalf of the Department and the whole foundation year sector that the vitally important work we do on foundation years has been recognised in this way.”

Image of Dr Sarah Hale

I fervently believe in the right of everyone, regardless of age, background or income, to access high quality higher education.

Dr Sarah Hale

Development, recognition and celebration

Through Elevate, the University provides a number of opportunities for development and formal recognition of learning and teaching practice, and for celebrating success at institutional and national level.

If you are involved in strategic leadership around learning and teaching, either within the University or beyond, and would be interested in applying for Principal Fellowship, please email elevate@sheffield.ac.uk to register your interest.