Sarah Stewart (BA Hons; PGCE with QTS; MA Education; FHEA) is a Senior Lecturer at The Open University in the School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport.
Sarah is the Director of the PGCE programme in Wales which saw its first cohort of students graduate in 2022. This innovative new two year programme seeks to widen access to teaching and promote diversification of the education workforce in order to support Welsh Government’s national aspirations of reformed, high-quality initial teacher education (ITE).
Sarah has worked in Higher Education (HE) for over ten years, supporting educators in both formal and non-formal education settings, developing a wide expertise across phases and sectors and drawing on a multi-disciplinary approach to her work. She has a particular interest in supporting initial teacher education and teacher education for practising teachers. As founding Chair of the OU ITE Partnership Committee, Sarah established the new Partnership leading to the initial regulatory accreditation of the OU routes into teaching in 2019. Sarah also led the recruitment and selection of a new OU team and Lead school partners and provides strategic leadership of a pan-Wales school partnership which has grown to over three hundred Primary and Secondary schools over the last two years. Sarah is a member of UCET Cymru which takes a particular interest in quality within initial teacher education in Wales and is also a peer-inspector for Estyn supporting the national approach to ITE reform in Wales. Through these sector-wide fora, she contributes her expertise in providing university-based alternative, pioneering forms of initial teacher education, including employment-based routes.As a member of the policy group for Children in Wales, Sarah is able to offer independent expertise on matters of social justice and inclusion, including her doctoral focus on children's human rights. In addition to the national sector contributions she provides, Sarah also has a firm committment to supporting her local community in her voluntary roles as community councillor and school governor for a primary school, demonstrating her ability to apply her knowledge of policy and social research within localised, specific contexts.
Prior to working in HE, Sarah was a practising secondary English school teacher and taught in rural Welsh medium schools, as well as an inner-city academy in England. As a former teacher, Sarah recognises the need for greater resources for teachers through the medium of Welsh and has contributed to Welsh medium book chapters for teaching assistants. She ensured that all OU routes into teaching in Wales are offered bilingually and fosters a strong sense of language and culture across the Partnership. In her stakeholder work, she has built working relationships with Welsh Government, Regional Consortia, Local Authorities and Headteachers across Wales and remains to be a passionate advocate for the teaching profession, drawing on her skills and experiences as a teacher and educator and sharing the OU vision for all learners in Wales, at all ages, to access transformative, life-changing opportunities for learning which enrich society.
As an academic researcher, Sarah’s broad interests are best characterised by a focus on issues of social equity and justice within education as well as supporting quality and innovation in teaching and learning. Her personal research interests in rights for children has led to Sarah now advancing towards the final stages of her taught Doctorate in Education, where her thesis explores the conceptualisation and teacher enactment of children’s rights in relation the new Curriculum for Wales framework. In doing so, she has an ambition to support practitioners across Wales to step into this new curriculum terrain and to further develop understanding of how rights-based pedagogcial approaches can underpin effective, high-quality teaching within the Welsh context.
Within her scholarship and knowledge-exchange, Sarah has sought to embed approaches to increasing the research capacity across the education workforce in Wales, both within schools and through Higher Education more broadly. Through her membership of the new Collaborative Research Network in Professional Learning and Leadership, Sarah is able to jointly develop cross-sector approaches to knowledge-exchange and educational research with multiple Welsh university partners and undertake collaborative, funded studies as part of a cross-HE team of researchers. Additionally, this provides a forum to contribute to further discussion and debate about wider educational reform and the professional learning needs of teachers in Wales. Sarah works closely with the OU PGCE programme’s Research Associate and Curriculum Tutors to oversee a transformative strategy aimed at building student teachers’, mentors’ and tutors’ engagement with educational research to support professional practice and to engage in close-to-practice research as a means of improving the quality of teaching and learning in schools.
Sarah's teaching interests lay in bringing together her knowledge and expertise of effective pedagogy within different settings and across different phases and places a particular emphasis on the relational nature of good teaching, having taught across multiple programmes, including undergraduate BA Primary Education Studies and Masters' routes such as MA Education, MA Children and Young People and Integrated Masters in Education Studies. Working with the Open University has enabled Sarah to further develop her own pedagogical knowledge, skills and experience through embracing online and digital learning approaches, growing her interest and expertise in distance learning methodologies. Leading an academic group of Curriculum Tutors, Researchers and Module Chairs, she works closely with her team and school partners to co-construct the programme's underpinning conceptual framework which drives the Partnership's vision for student teacher learning. As Chair of the Partnership Committee, Sarah has worked to continually develop and refine the programme's quality assurance and enhancement model to ensure a positive, high-quality experience for beginner teachers and to support the improvement of student teacher outcomes. Sarah is a co-lead for the programme of professional learning for the Partnership's community of Practice Tutors, having introduced a pioneering new approach to assessment of student teachers' practice learning through the adoption of online reflective video technology tools. To further develop this radical new approach, she is currently a co-researcher for an internal scholarship funded study which explores Practice Tutors' use of remote video observation as a tool to consider student teacher progress in relation to the Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership. This collaborative study involves OU academics and school-based partners as researchers and aims to contribute a series of effective practice case studies to inform ongoing programme development and dissemination of Partnership best practice.
Sarah continues to have a hands-on approach to the design and development of learning resources for school-based teacher educators and beginner teachers and regulalry contributes to the OU ITE Partnership's programme of professional learning, sharing effective teaching practices through regional consortia conferences and events by the Education Workforce Council. Most recently, she led the induction programme for new Lead schools to the Partnership, working with school partners to exemplify the principles of co-construction and joint accountability on which the Partnership is founded. Sarah is a co-author of the free bilingual Open Learn course Mentoring Mindsets which focuses on quality mentoring in the initial teacher education phase. She also contributed to the Future Learn course Becoming a Teacher.
As Director of the PGCE, Sarah leads the wider stakeholder-management workstreams and has a key part to play in the relationship building and management of the various and multiple OU ITE Partnership collaborative groups which involve school-based teacher educators, student teachers on the employment-based route, headteachers, Regional Consortia and Local Authorities. At a sector level, Sarah works closely with other ITE providers across Wales to collaborate on a wide variety of ITE matters, for example, contributing to an agile sector response plan in partnership with Welsh Government during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure the continuation of ITE provision. Sarah leads the OU ITE Partnership's engagement with external bodies who hold contractual, regulatory and quality oversight of ITE such as Welsh Government, the Education Workforce Council and the inspectorate, Estyn to drive forward programme quality and innovation. Sarah contributes her expertise to wider matters of educational reform beyond ITE as the OU's representative at Welsh Government's Strategic Education Delivery Group.
Sarah's interest and enthusiasm for building effective collegiate relationships and sharing critical expertise in service of supporting educational excellence is also evident through her role as an established HE External Examiner, currently working with University of West England, Bristol's BA Education programme to provide quality assurance and enhancement oversight and advice in relation to teaching and learning, student progress and outcomes.
Sarah was a co-researcher within an international Erasmus+ project focused on equity in education. The project, which represented an international collaboration of nine institutions across five European countries, focused on issues of equity in education and involved school, university and educational authority representation. Aimed at school leaders, the team designed a series of tools to support the evaluation of equity practices within the school context and to support leaders to design and implement an action plan to enhance equity and inclusion within their settings. Sarah led on the development of the methodological guide, setting out a review of the literature and the conceptual framework on which the project was based. She also contributed to other project outcomes including a digital framework for evaluating equity and an online training programme for school leaders. During the project evaluation in 2019, over 600 school leaders had attended dissemination conferences, 5 journal articles had been published, over 50 headteachers had already completed the training programme and over 10 000 visits had been made to the project site to access the variety of resources to support equity available there.
Using video technology to support micro-teaching and reflection in Initial Teacher Education (2022-07-15)
Defis, Nerys; Glover, Alison; Jennings, Carys; Stewart, Sarah; Wallis, Rachel; Craggs, Ben; Hay, Ceris; Linton, Beth; Powell, Thomas and Williams, Amanda
Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change, 8(1)
Equity in Education: A New Definition from a European Perspective (2018)
Serarols, Jordi; Gonzalez, Jordi; Welton, Nicola; Stewart, Sarah; Pauwells, Ellen; Runfola, Caterina; Mara, Elena Lucia and Mara, Daniel
ACTA Universitatis Lucian Blaga, 2018(1) (pp. 224-232)
Pennod 9 - Chwarae a Chreadigrwydd (2018-11-16)
In: Ryder, Nanna ed. Cefnogi Pob Plentyn (pp. 79-88)
Publisher : Ganolfan Peniarth | Published : Carmarthen
Pennod 8 - Tu Hwnt i’r Dosbarth (2018)
Stewart, Sarah and Ryder, Nanna
In: Ryder, Nanna ed. Cefnogi Pob Plentyn (pp. 68-78)
Publisher : Ganolfan Peniarth | Published : Carmarthen
Supporting Opportunity in Schools: Promoting Educational Equity – A Report on the Second and Final Year of Project Outcomes (2019)
In : British Education Studies Conference 15th Annual International Conference 2019 (27-28 Jun 2019, Swansea)
International Perspectives on Equity (2018)
In : British Education Studies Association 14th Annual International Conference (27-29 Jun 2018, University of Bolton)
Scoping study for the evaluation of the curriculum and assessment reforms in Wales: final report (2022-07-13)
Duggan, Brett; Thomas, Hefin; Davies-Walker, Morgan; Sinnema, Claire; Stewart, Sarah; Cole Jones, Nia; Glover, Alison and Griffiths, Mike
Welsh Government, Cardiff, Wales.
Learning about Progression – Informing thinking about a Curriculum for Wales (2018-04)
Hayward, Louise; Jones, Dylan E.; Waters, Jane; Makara, Kara; Morrison-Love, David; Spencer, Ernest; Barnes, Janine; Davies, Heddwen; Hughes, Sioned; Jones, Christine; Nelson, Sam; Ryder, Nanna; Stacey, David; Wallis, Rachel; Baxter, Jayne; MacBride, George; Bendall, Rachel; Brooks, Siân; Cooze, Angella; Davies, Linda; Denny, Helen; Donaldson, Peter; Lewis, Ishmael; Lloyd, Peter; Maitra, Srabani; Morgan, Catherine; James, Sue Pellew; Samuel-Thomas, Shan; Sharpling, Elaine; Southern, Alex; Stewart, Sarah; Valdera-Gil, Francisco and Wardle, Georgina
Methodological framework and guide (2017)
Stewart, S. and Welton, N.