The Ashton woman who transformed five schools at a time
Wednesday 26th July 2017 @ 12:45 by Adam Higgins
Ashton Community

An Ashton lady who was awarded with an O.B.E for her efforts in transforming Greenhill Primary School in Oldham has retired after dedicating over 40 years to education.

Sandy Hawkins, who now lives in Delph with her husband and their three dogs, began her career at St James’ school in the centre of Ashton. “It was a large class of 42 children, “Sandy began, “but teachers weren’t under the same pressure as they are now. If you wanted to go and kick a ball around with the kids you had time to do it.”

Sandy With One Of Her Three Dogs

Also a teacher at the Heys school on Mossley Road in the 1980’s, Sandy then transferred to Greenhill Primary School; reminiscing that “Greenhill was a school that was 100% ethnic minority of children from Pakistan and Bangladesh. When I started there in 1993, the school wasn’t doing as well as it should have been.”

Eventually becoming the head teacher of the school in 2000, there was a huge change in staff and Sandy took the school to ‘outstanding’ status. “It’s a proud moment when you achieve ‘outstanding’ and everyone in the school is as good as they can get,” Sandy explained.

It was Sandy’s hard work that led her to be awarded with her O.B.E.

In the centre of what was a troubled and deprived community, she had transformed a failing school to one of the top ten in the country.

Sandy Hawkins Is Qualified As A Teacher

From becoming the head teacher at Greenhill Primary, Sandy then went on to become a National Leader of Education in 2010, before becoming an Ofsted inspector in 2012 and then a CEO and founder of the Harmony Educational Trust in 2013.

And although Sandy was due to retire four years ago, she couldn’t let a school go that needed her help. “I couldn’t let it go down, so I took it on alongside the current school I was working with at the time,” she told: “but then in the last four years I took on an extra three who needed my help so I had five schools in total, four of which that were in special measures when I took them on.”

After working countless hours each week for the past 20 years, Sandy talked her plans for retirement: “That’s the real scary part after working 60 to 70 hours a week, so if anyone knocks on my door I’ll be willing to come and help!” she laughed.


By Abi White