Mentor Dev

Tracey Smith

Tracey Smith is Executive Headteacher at Faringdon Learning Trust, a role she has held since August 2023. Previously, she spent three years as Senior Lecturer in Primary Education and PGCE Course Leader at the University of Buckingham, where she authored three NASBTT Mentor Development Modules (MDMs). Tracey wrote our Inclusion: SEND, Working with support staff, and Whole school ethos MDMs. We spoke to Tracey to find out about her work.


How did you get involved in our MDMs?

“When I was at the University of Buckingham I was leading on mentoring and wrote three mentoring qualifications: an MA, Postgraduate Diploma, and shorter Postgraduate Certificate. These courses started before the NPQLTD came out and I spent every Monday with my mentoring group. As part of this, I attended a mentoring session with NASBTT and volunteered to support some modules, SEND first of all.”

What are the objectives of each module?

“Inclusion: SEND breaks down labels and stereotypes around SEN, while equipping the mentor and mentee with a skillset to ensure their teaching spaces and environments are welcoming to all. Working with support staff celebrates the roles of teaching and learning assistants, and other support staff in schools who are invaluable to ensuring good outcomes for pupils. Mentors learn to support their mentees in collaboration with these teams to ensure teaching and learning outcomes are met by all. Whole school ethos helps lead and general mentors, as well as middle and senior leaders, to understand the importance of school or provision ethos and how this can impact behaviours, relationships and ultimately learning.”

In terms of the focused subject matter of these modules, how do these resonate particularly with you and your expertise?

“From 2017-20 I was Headteacher at New Marston Primary School, part of River Learning Trust. This school was in special measures and at the same time had pupils with different challenges, especially around neurodiversity and autism. We managed to settle the school down after training to understand the best way to support those children, so this is where my expertise in Inclusion: SEND initially came from. In working with support staff, I found through teacher training that trainees are often not thinking about relationships and management of those colleagues, so I had an interest in that too. Adopting a whole school ethos, and overcoming negativity through values-led cultural development, is something I have done at each school where I have had a Headship.”

How did you find writing the modules?

“Very enjoyable. I really love writing, and always have. Organisation and doing work on CPD is my favourite thing in school. My aim was to make each module as engaging as possible, and therefore to keep the subject matter interesting and informative. Every one of us aspires to support trainees, so usefulness was the driver, as was working to clear goals. The modules are robust and the quality assurance process rigorous. Every minor detail is analysed to make sure it is as relevant and sharp as it could be.”

What are the main benefits of MDMs?

“They are really accessible, and each module only takes 90 minutes to complete with questions at the end to test understanding. The online platform NASBTT Learn is easy to use and you can signpost trainees to think about different aspects of each module. More widely, we know there is a reluctance to take on mentoring. Staff are not paid for it, they may not have time to do it, and lack the expertise. Having the MDMs will be helpful and hopefully staff are motivated to use them and develop. It would be amazing to roll these out as widely as possible, a little bit like the Early Career Framework.”

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