Sarah Botchway

Director, London South Teaching School Hub

Learn more about our teaching school Director

What is the London South Teaching School Hub?

I feel privileged to lead one of the new 87 teaching school hubs designated by the Department for Education (DfE) across England for the Charter Trust.

As the London South Teaching School Hub we provide high-quality professional development to teachers at all stages of their careers across the London boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. This includes school based initial teacher training, the Early Career Framework, Specialist national professional, qualifications and the appropriate body service for early career teachers (ECTs)

An average day in the Hub team can vary wildly! From answering queries from ECTs and their mentors (we work with over 1600 of them), to designing courses, setting up programmes and events which often involves hosting leaders and ministers from abroad, to attending meetings and webinars held by the Teaching School Council or DfE.

We have recently scaled up our Appropriate Body (an appropriate body is an organisation that quality-assures statutory teacher induction) provision from 60 to now over 400 participants. We recruit students for initial teacher training and my role involves a lot of interviews!

How has your career led you to this role?

I have always worked in education, and my career has been extremely varied encompassing many different opportunities within education. I began as a Secondary Science teacher, teaching all three sciences at key stage 3 and 4 in London and in Paris. I have also taught post 16 courses in further education institutions in London.

I really enjoyed getting into deep conversations on my specialist subjects with the young people and adults in my classes. To most people the thought of working with fire and children in the same room is unthinkable, but creating fireworks in the Bunsen burner was a lot of fun!

As I moved into primary education, I taught less Science but was able to broaden my knowledge of the wider education system and curriculum significantly. I remember becoming an MFL lead - part of that role was going to Paris every year, and I am certain that I enjoyed those trips even more than the children.

I have taught every year group from nursery to adult, as well as working in leadership positions in schools including headship. This experience has been invaluable for the work I currently do in the Hub. Having worked in these environments myself, I have a strong knowledge and understanding of the work that goes on in the classroom at all levels and the challenges and demands that teachers face every day. It’s good to be able to use this knowledge to support teachers and leaders and be an advocate for the work they do.

Have you ever taken a career risk that has been a real advantage as you have progressed?

After a number of years of working at a very lovely primary school in Brixton, I knew I needed a change and began to explore what to do next.  My inner passion was the Arts and I decided to apply to do a year-long theatre programme with the National Theatre, normally reserved for leaders in that industry.

I wondered where I would find the time to complete the programme alongside my day job, but to my delight I was successful in gaining one of the 20 places out of over 100 applicants. The additional workload worries melted away and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. To combine my work in school with working with arts professionals, developing strong relationships, producing five large scale children’s operas with professional adults as part of the cast, musicians and crew had an enormous impact on me and that of the whole school community.

The fun didn’t stop there, as I later became a trustee for the English Touring Opera to support their education stream. I watched a lot of shows during those years!

What is the best part of your current role?

I get to meet, speak to and work alongside so many different people from different aspects of the education system. I meet regularly with other teaching school hub leads, members from the Teaching School Hub Council and DfE as well as work closely with universities and other educational institutions.

However, the very best bit is going into so many different schools, speaking to the teachers and school leaders, hearing about all the exciting and varied practices that go on in the schools. I get to see first-hand how the work we do is impacting on their professional development and in turn supporting the progress and development of pupils. Sometimes, if I’m really lucky, I still get to go on a school trip and witness the excitement of young children singing their hearts out at the O2!

This is the start of my second year working for the Charter Trust and I’m excited to see what’s in store this year.

What does the future hold?

This is the start of my second year working for the Charter Trust and I’m excited to see what’s in store this year. I enjoy being part of a family of school’s and organisations whose vision is to support as many children as possible in South London to fulfil their potential beyond the borders of their own school.

Within the past year, our core team at the London South Teaching School Hub has nearly doubled and our team of external facilitators continues to grow, currently standing at nearly 60 individuals! I am looking forward to strengthening our partnerships and getting to know even more of the people working with us. As we become the sole provider of the Appropriate Body Service from the three local authorities we serve, the scale up is daunting. However, it’s an exciting opportunity to align all our services to better support the needs of all the schools in our region and to get to know the professionals who work in them on a deeper level.

I feel so fortunate to be part of this journey.

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