Sue O'Brien

Sue O'Brien BA (Ed) Hons QTS, MA, PFHEA

Head of the Sheffield Institute of Education


Sue is head of the Sheffield Institute of Education which is the home to approximately 1500 students and 130 staff and covers a range of courses from foundation to doctoral study. It covers all areas of education from early years to post 16 and works in partnership with over 600 schools, colleges ,early years settings and other educational settings across 25 local authorities regionally and nationally. It is home to a thriving TESOL centre and Autism team who are recognised nationally and internationally for their expertise . Over 1,000 new teachers graduate from the Sheffield Institute of Education each year to join the Hallam teacher network.

Sue is a former primary school teacher who has worked for a number of years in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) for universities in Birmingham, Lincoln and Sheffield. At SHU she has previously held the position of Head of Academic Development for Teacher Education, Programme Leader for Primary ITE (3-7 and 5-11 provision), Quality Lead for Teacher Education and course leader for the Maths Specialist Teacher programme. 


Sue completed her undergraduate studies in mathematics and initial teacher education at Christ Church University in Canterbury and taught, in her early career, in Staffordshire. Since leaving the primary classroom Sue has worked for a number of years in ITE initially at Newman University College Birmingham where she became Head of Mathematics Department and later at Bishop Grossteste University, Lincoln. 

Since moving back to her native Sheffield and coming to work at SHU Sue has held various positions supporting the development of ITE provision for the university. This involved the development of the extensive school direct and SCITT provision as well as leading the department and its partnerships in its quality assurance and quality enhancement of ITE, culminating in outstanding outcomes in the most recent OFSTED inspections.

In her role within the South Yorkshire Futures Programme Sue was strategic lead for the Performance Strand. South Yorkshire Futures is a social mobility partnership aiming to improve attainment and raise the aspirations of young people throughout region.

The performance strand is founded on the premise that to improve outcomes for children and young people then investment in the workforce has to be a priority. This strand therefore focusses on teacher recruitment and retention alongside broader school workforce support and development. Crucial to its success has been and will continue to be the collaborative work across all ITE providers, schools, academies and MATS in the South Yorkshire region .

In line with her current role, Sue's current interests lie with teacher recruitment and retention, exploring the motivations and pathways to teaching as well as investigating the role that schools as places to work have in the attraction and retention of teachers .

Teacher Recruitment and Retention, Early Career support, Primary Maths , Teacher Development.


Department of Teacher Education

College of Social Sciences and Arts



O'Brien, S., Perry, E., Leach, A., Willis, B., Booth, J., Walker, H., & Dalton, K. (2019). Doncaster Opportunity Area and South Yorkshire Futures Recruitment and Retention Project Phase 1 Final Report. Sheffield Hallam University.

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