Meet the team

The Primary Support Team are five independent consultants who have previously worked for Oxfordshire County Council as part of the School Improvement Service.

The team bring:

  • In-depth knowledge of the curriculum and its related assessment
  • Knowledge of current best practice locally and nationally
  • Experience of working in a range of schools from those that are outstanding to those in challenging circumstances
  • Skills in using effective approaches to improve teaching and learning in your school – joint evaluation, joint strategic planning, modelling and coaching
  • Challenge and support for school leaders
  • Knowledge of Ofsted and HMI requirements; current Lead Ofsted experience
  • Associations with national organisations in English and mathematics

Assured Quality

Accreditations from independent bodies assure the quality of the team’s work: the team have been awarded Quality Marks verified by the Institute of Education, University College London and the National Centre of Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. The team also maintains close links with Higher Educational Institutions such as Edge Hill and Northampton Universities and professional organisations such as the National Association for the Teaching of English, National Literacy Trust and the National Association of Maths Advisers.

The Team

The Primary Support Team consultants have all worked as part of Oxfordshire Local Authority's School Improvement Service, supporting schools in developing effective learning and teaching in English, maths and school leadership.

Jane Liddle – Maths Consultant

Before Jane Liddle’s appointment as Maths Specialist Consultant Lead, she taught in two Oxfordshire primary schools alongside being a member of the LA Maths Focus group. Jane has classroom, leadership and management experience from Foundation to Year 6 across three local authorities; this includes a range of schools in different contexts. As the lead consultant for the Maths Specialist Teacher Programme (MaST) she has worked in partnership with Reading and Northampton Universities since 2010. Jane also delivers CPD nationally on behalf of the National Association of Mathematics Advisors. Accredited by Edge Hill as an Every Child Counts trainer and serving on the Executive Committee for NAMA, Jane brings a wealth of skills and knowledge into her work in schools and is passionately committed to supporting schools to deliver high quality maths experiences for all children.


Nathan Crook – Maths Consultant

Prior to becoming a mathematics consultant, Nathan taught children in both key stages across three Oxfordshire primary schools, including those in both urban and rural settings. During this time, he qualified as a Maths Specialist Teacher (MaST), which also led to him becoming part of the National College for Teaching and Leadership’s ‘small schools making an impact’ programme. Since then, Nathan has become part of the Executive of the National Association of Mathematics Advisers, which ensures that he continues to be up-to-date with agendas across the world of maths. More recently, he has further researched and developed a range of subject specialisms including mathematics in the Early Years and inclusive teaching. Driven by his passion for helping to ensure that all children access learning to the full, Nathan has supported schools across Oxfordshire and other counties in delivering high quality teaching and learning, as well as working with organisations to lead nationally accredited Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for teachers. He is a firm believer in the power of mentoring and coaching, around which he refined his skills during 2015/2016 whilst working to complete the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) programme. In addition to offering subject-specific consultancy, Nathan works as Chair for a local partnership of Headteachers and also serves as a school Governor.

Julie Sargent – English Consultant 

Julie is an established English consultant with an extensive knowledge of the curriculum, assessment and effective learning and teaching approaches.  Prior to this role, her experience of teaching in primary schools in both Oxfordshire and Devon included key roles in piloting and developing many aspects of English. She has been awarded the Gold Quality Mark for Professional Development by the London Institute of Education and is an accredited Edge Hill Every Child Counts trainer for 1stClass@Writing.  Julie’s work with focused English projects, such as Every Child Writes, and individual schools enables her to offer high quality school support.  She has designed and delivered many professional development programmes and training materials to support schools in English.  Her passion and enthusiasm for engaging children in the curriculum is seen through her creative approaches, which inspire both teachers and learners. As a firm believer in working alongside schools, Julie is keen to ensure that support provided is bespoke to individual school needs. Julie is also an associate trainer for Birmingham Services for Education.

Susie Spolander – English Consultant

Susie is an experienced primary school teacher and English consultant whose practice includes classroom teaching and senior leadership across the key stages; English consultancy throughout the primary sector; and writing, developing and leading training events and projects in a range of areas to address current educational priorities. For this work, she has been awarded the Gold Quality Mark for Professional Development by the London Institute of Education. Susie holds the Every Child Counts trainer accreditation from Edge Hill University as well as the Inference Training accreditation from Leicester City Council. Throughout her career, Susie has enjoyed leading on a number of action-research projects, focused on developing specific areas of English, such as spoken language, writing for more able pupils, phonics and GPS. Susie is passionate about finding innovative ways to inspire teachers and engage learners, so works alongside school leaders, class teachers and support staff to promote school development through a range of leadership and classroom-based approaches which are tailored to the needs of the school.

Sarah Varnom – Leadership Consultant 

Sarah is an experienced leader of school improvement: her work across schools in Birmingham and Oxfordshire has involved a range of leadership roles, including headships, and as an executive headteacher, Sarah supported schools and staff during challenging periods, helping them to get ‘back on track’ and ensuring high quality education for all learners. Working at the core of Oxfordshire County Council’s senior leadership team, Sarah has steered improvements through very challenging circumstances. Amidst multiple periods of significant change to the educational landscape, Sarah has developed and shared the best school-improvement strategies with leaders of education across the county, which have resulted in dramatically improved educational outcomes for all schools. Sarah’s current knowledge and experience is also demonstrated through her work as both a practising Lead Inspector for Ofsted and as a governor for her local school. Sarah helps schools to analyse their current situation and offers bespoke support tailored to each school’s needs. She will work with you to plan innovative ways forward with the appropriate balance of challenge and support. Her passion and commitment to every child getting the very best possible life chances remains absolutely at the heart of her work. Sarah Varnom is director of SV Education Associates Limited.

Associate Member: Charlotte Christie – Leadership Consultant 

Charlotte is a highly experienced educationalist with a proven track record of achievement in delivering education services focussed on school leadership and management. Her 30 years’ experience started as a teacher in Inner London and led to working in three local authorities. She has worked with, led, and trained school leaders and governors in all aspects of school management and successful educational delivery in schools of every phase, type and size. Amongst many roles during her time in Oxfordshire, Charlotte was the County Lead on Headteacher Recruitment and Performance Management, NQT assessment, and was an accredited School Improvement Partner (SIP) and School Adviser. She also devised and delivered Governor training programmes, both bespoke and generic, for OCC Governor Services. As part of the OCC Academies team she worked closely with the DfE and Academy Trusts in Oxfordshire, co-ordinating the delivery of academy conversions and new schools. She has served as a member of five Interim Executive Boards (IEBs); two of those as Chair and is currently Chair of Governors at a Primary School. Charlotte has a strong track record of addressing problems and strategic issues in a practical and focussed style. She draws on her wide experience and current knowledge of the rapidly changing educational climate to support governors and school leaders to achieve solutions. She is committed to helping school leaders and managers make effective and efficient use of their time in addressing the complex issues of school management. Charlotte is currently a Director of C Christie Education Ltd.