Queensbridge Primary School head Sarah Bailey on her lifelong passion for education

Sarah Bailey getting her OBE. Picture: Michael Bailey

Sarah Bailey getting her OBE. Picture: Michael Bailey - Credit: Sarah Bailey

Teaching prodigy Sarah Bailey OBE tells The Gazette about her journey from ‘sleepy Sussex’ to running Queensbridge Primary School in Hackney

Sarah Bailey picking up her OBE, with her daughters. Picture: Michael Bailey

Sarah Bailey picking up her OBE, with her daughters. Picture: Michael Bailey - Credit: Sarah Bailey

Sarah Bailey’s calling to become a primary teacher came early – aged 10, helping her baby sister learn to read.

Sarah, head of Queensbridge since 2006, was given an OBE for her services to education nine years later. She was able to “see the impact” teaching could have even as a child.

Growing up in “sleepy” Sussex villages, Sarah was “hugely creative” and her solicitor dad and nursery school teacher mother would always leave out the primary school staples of “scissors, glitter and glue” for her. She studied classics and teaching at Durham University before starting her first job in Tottenham.

“I was faced not only with teaching children how to read,” she said, “but little tiny children whose first language wasn’t English.

“It was quite crazy but brilliant to be thrown in at the deep end.” Four years later, “with one baby in a car seat and one baby in my tummy”, she amalgamated two other primary schools before moving to Hackney in 2006, where she remains to this day.

“I love the diversity,” said Sarah. “I love my children and every day bringing something new to deal with.

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“I just love watching their excitement and their thirst for learning new things. Even when you have a busy day it’s always happy and nice to be in school.”

The school was deemed outstanding by Ofsted in 2012 and Sarah is now an Ofsted inspector herself, as well as a national leader of edcuation.

“It’s good to be going out to other schools because you pick up so many good ideas, even in schools that require improvement,” she said.

Her daughters Polly, 14, and Immy, 17, have always been part of the journey.

“We were the three musketeers,” remembers Sarah. “We were in school at 7am every morning, and left the school at 6pm every night. I had to make the food decent, to make sure they had three meals at school. Polly was three, and used to come in and have a last suck of her dummy, open my top drawer and pop it in. She’d keep her eyes peeled around her to make sure her nursery teacher didn’t see.”

The school roll has risen from 212 to 520 and Sarah makes sure it has a “nurturing” environment.

“First thing in September, I have to know each and every child’s name in reception, and I will do it,” she said. “I am absolutely passionate about being a head teacher in my lovely school.”