Alumna’s classroom innovation recognised with teaching award


Leeds Trinity alumna Sarah Dickinson has thanked the University for providing her grounding in teaching after she won the ‘Primary or Early Years School Teacher of the Year’ category at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus Education Awards.


Upon leaving school, Sarah became a horse riding instructor and later joined Leeds Trinity as a mature student in 2006 to pursue a career in teaching. Sarah completed the Primary Education course, graduating in 2010, and has gone on to utilise her skillset within West Yorkshire and is currently working at Blakehill Primary School in Bradford.

Having spent three years teaching 5 to 6-year-olds, Sarah was reappointed to her original role as a reception teacher at Blakehill Primary school ahead of the 2023/24 academic year. Along with the teaching assistants who support Sarah day-to-day, she spent much of her summer redesigning the classroom to make it a welcoming and learner-friendly environment. By clearly illustrating how she takes pride in her classroom, Sarah is able to instill values of respect in her pupils, as well as encourage them to become independent and enthusiastic learners who engage with the resources and activities available.  

Thanks to her efforts, Sarah was recently named as the winner of the ‘Primary or Early Years School Teacher of the Year’ award at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus Education Awards, which celebrate the people making a difference in the education sector across the Bradford district.

Sarah Dickinson said: “The award came as a big surprise; I wasn’t expecting it at all. The headteacher at Blakehill Primary let me know that I had been nominated, but I attended the ceremony thinking that would be as good as it got, as the other candidates had such strong stories. Someone sitting with me had to nudge me after my name was called out, and everything was a blur after that.

“The award means a great deal to me, but it’s really for all of us at the school. I couldn’t do my role without the incredible support I have from the rest of the team and I’m so pleased that they were all at the ceremony. The award shows that our hard work was most definitely worth it. We are all now motivated to do even more in future.”

Reflecting on her time at Leeds Trinity University and how it prepared her for her career, Sarah added: “Studying at Leeds Trinity was four years of hard work, but I never envisaged I would enjoy it as much as I did. The professional placement opportunities were a real highlight for me, they made me realise that I had made the right choice in training to be a teacher. We also spent a lot of time in lectures thinking about how we could apply the things we were learning effectively in the classroom - everything was very practical.

“I picked up so many tips from the lecturers who knew the job inside out and taught us how to conduct ourselves in the classroom. They also made us aware of the challenges we’d face as a teacher, but I knew that I could always ask for advice and felt confident the feedback I received was based on the most up-to-date practices and procedures. I have stayed in contact with several of my lecturers, and they’re still on hand to provide advice to this day.”

Lisa Keighley, Headteacher at Blakehill Primary School, said: “Sarah is exactly what every Early Years child needs. She enthuses creativity and fun and walking into our reception classroom is like walking into a world of awe and wonder. The learning experiences that she provides ensure that our youngest children get the very best start to their education. I am incredibly proud of her achievement but unsurprised - she is without a doubt a teaching superstar and a credit not only to Blakehill Primary School, but to the profession.”

Sarah returned to Leeds Trinity to complete the National Award for SEN Co-ordination (NASENCo), which she achieved in 2023.

Dr Aimee Quickfall, Head of School of Teacher Education at Leeds Trinity University, said: “I am delighted to hear that another graduate of Leeds Trinity’s School of Education is doing so well in their career. We pride ourselves on helping our students realise their potential and develop into talented, inspiring teachers who make an impact in the schools they go on to work in, and Sarah is certainly doing that.

“It is so pleasing to hear that Sarah enjoyed studying at Leeds Trinity and reflects so fondly on her time here. On behalf of the University, I offer huge congratulations to her for winning this award and wish her continued success in the future.”

For more information on Primary Education degrees at Leeds Trinity, visit the University website 

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