Meet the team

The Primary Support Team are a network of independent consultants who have held teaching and leadership posts in schools, as well as 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 for English and school leadership

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 . The team also maintains close links with Higher Educational Institutions such as Edge Hill University and professional organisations such as the National Association for the Teaching of English, National Literacy Trust, United Kingdom Literacy Association and the National Association for Advisors of English.

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 and school leadership.

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.

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Associate Member: 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.