Tributes paid to an 'inspirational' Luton headteacher who died soon after breast cancer diagnosis

Sarah Pollard's family believe screening should be reduced to the age of 40

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 9:09 am

Friends, colleagues and former pupils of a Luton headteacher have been paying tribute to a woman described as "inspirational".

Sarah Pollard, head of Southfield Primary School died last week, after being diagnosed with breast cancer during the school summer break.

In a message the Pioneer Learning Trust said: "On behalf of the Trust and as friend and colleague of Sarah Pollard for 16 yrs, I'm struggling to express the depth of the shock and grief we feel right now. Sarah was dedicated to the children and staff of @SouthfieldLuton and the future of our Trust. She will be missed terribly".

Sarah Pollard who died last week

And the family of the 45-year-old are urging people to regularly give themselves a health check. Her parents Jean and Brian, have contacted Luton North MP Sarah Owen to campaign to have the age of regular breast screening reduced to the age of 40 to pick up cases such as Sarah’s earlier. Currently breast screening starts at age 50.

Colleagues from her former school also paid tribute. The Chiltern Learning Trust said: "It is with incredible sadness that we learnt of the sudden death of Sarah Pollard this week. Sarah was the inspirational Headteacher of Southfield in Luton, after many years at @chantryprimary - our thoughts and prayers go out to Sarah’s family & our good friends @pioneer_trust

A special assembly was held on Monday at Southfield, on Pastures Way, for pupils, staff and Sarah's family.

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Sarah has spent her entire school career in Luton, as a child at Hart Hill Nursery before attending Stopsley Primary, Putteridge High and Luton Sixth Form. She then worked as a teaching assistant in Hart Hill Primary for a year before studying for her teaching degree at the University of Hertfordshire.

She started her working career at Beech Hill Primary, then moved to Farley Hill Juniors before joining Chantry Primary where she worked her way up to deputy headteacher and then joining Southfield as headteacher.

Corisande Bateman, chief executive officer of the Pioneer Learning Trust said: "I have known Sarah for 16 years as a colleague and friend. She was an extremely special person, known for her sense of humour, her determination in fighting for what is right for children and education, and for her loyalty to Luton - the community she lived and worked in.

"Her resolve for children to have the best education possible is one of the many strengths she brought with her to Southfield in 2016 where she led the school forward to enjoy the success we are proud of today.

"Sarah was a significant presence in Southfield, known by all of the children and parents. She was fiercely protective of her school and loved all of the children as though they were her own. The cards made by pupils, and the well wishes sent by parents during her illness, demonstrate just how loved Sarah was by her school community. She will be sadly missed by all.

"Sarah was loved, not only by her own school community but by colleagues who worked with her at Chantry for 10 years and those who she worked with when supporting Whitefield for an extended period. Sarah was instrumental is setting up Pioneer Learning Trust and has influenced practice in each of our schools, taking her commitment to high quality education with her to every lesson, every conversation, every decision, every policy – to every aspect of her work. We are grateful to have known her, to have worked with her and to have benefited from her passion for learning. Her legacy will live on in our practice.

"In order to honour Miss Pollard, JustGiving pages have been set up for Macmillan Cancer Care and Cancer Research UK. The family would appreciate any funds to be split across both charities."

Friends and colleagues have also been paying tribute. One said: "Such sad news to hear about Sarah, she'll be remembered for her infectious giggle and wicked sense of humour. A huge loss to the local education family."

And another added: "Miss Pollard was a brilliant teacher, my son said she was the best. Sending our thoughts to her family and friends.".

Luton Council has been offering support for children and staff at Southfield through the Educational Psychology service. Support has also been offered to Trust staff from Mentally Well Schools and pupils at Southfield have been offered a free session with Adventures Into.

Sarah's funeral is due to take place on October 12.

The link to the Book of Condolence is here: