Ms Sarah Mander

Senior Lecturer & Course Leader for Special Needs, Childhood and Family Studies

Email address: Phone number: 01902 323253 Location: Walsall Faculty: Faculty of Education Health and Wellbeing School/Institute: Institute of Education Areas of expertise: Early Help offers, Safeguarding children and young people


My passion for working with children, young people and families has continually developed during almost 20 years working in this field. My career includes working across the continuum of family need from early intervention and prevention to children in the care of the local authority. I have been involved at both Practitioner and Manager level with implementation of new policies, with an emphasis upon improving educational outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. My most recent practice priority has been improvement of Sure Start services across 7 children’s centres, to progress from an Unsatisfactory Ofsted grading to Good within 2 years.

Professional interests lie in reducing social inequality, including but not limited to inequalities incurred through poverty, disability and family circumstance including looked after children. I chose to research the journey Sure Start parents embark upon from service users to service shapers for my MA dissertation, ‘Parental Participation: Breaking through the glass ceiling’. This involved challenging organisational limitations regarding the devolution of power to parents and, in particular, I investigated the potential afforded by the children’s centre for the more vulnerable, challenged parents in progressing to higher levels of participation.

The development of ‘Early Help’ services, to shift family support to earlier stage and age intervention to prevent escalation of need and subsequent family breakdown is a significant current focus for me. The majority of my career has pivoted around early intervention and this, combined with Module Leadership for Safeguarding and Well-being, positions me well to research this area of work.

Research interests

  • Social inequalities anf Family and Community.

Membership of professional bodies

  • Currently working towards Senior Fellowship of HEA.


MA Leading Community Learning, Staffordshire University, July 2011.

Diploma in Teaching in Lifelong Learning Sector,                                             

Further professional registration to secure QTLS status, July 2011.

Staffordshire University, BA (Hons) Applied Social Studies, June 2005.


  • Mander, S. and Sturge, S. (2015) Early Help Mechanisms – A mere fad or ground breaking reformation to child protection systems? The importance of interprofessional working; the educational and health Wolverhampton: Pedagogy in Practice, University of Wolverhampton. Due for publication early 2016.

Previous professional experience

Locality Partnership Co-ordinator, Leicestershire County Council   (09/11 – 01/14) 

Strategic leadership for 0 – 19 age range locality partnership including performance management of 7 Sure Start Children’s Centres. Responsible for c.30 staff members, wide range of multi-agency partnerships and budget of £1.2 million.

Experience of Ofsted inspections

Adult and Community Learning Service, Staffordshire County Council  (10/10 – 10/13 part time)

Role commenced to support teacher training. Teaching of socially excluded adults 19+ with below Level 2 qualification, for example Looked After Care Leavers, Adults experiencing poor mental health.

All teaching observations graded Outstanding. 

Community and Learning Partnership Co-ordinator, Staffordshire County Council   (04/07 – 06/11)

Co-ordination of locality based services for 0 – 19 age range

Implementation of national policy drivers including Phase 2 & 3 Sure Start Centres, Extended Services and Disadvantaged Subsidy (Pupil Premium).


From early 1998 to 2014 I worked as a practitioner across a range of organisations, including High Schools in Staffordshire and Birmingham, Staffordshire Special Educational Needs Service, NCH and Barnardo’s. My roles included working with vulnerable children and young people on a 1:1 and small group basis with a focus upon improving educational outcomes. Some work involved visiting family homes, preventing offending behaviours, mentoring, tutoring children in care in preparation for their GCSEs and Family Group Conferencing. 

Further information

I am an Independent Visitor for a vulnerable young adult with learning disability who resides in Foster Care. This is a voluntary role which enables me to maintain current practice experience, and is exceptionally rewarding. It involves regular social activities with the young person, with outcome based accountability utilised to assess progress towards independent living. There is a safeguarding aspect of the role to create an independent non-professional relationship where the young person may build sufficient trust and confidence to disclose any harms if they occur within and outside of the care placement, thus supporting the loco parentis role of the local authority.