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Reflections on mentoring for new school leaders

Geoff Southworth (University of Cambridge Institute of Education, Cambridge, UK)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 1 December 1995



Critically reviews mentoring for new headteachers in England. First provides a background to the English scheme which shows that mentoring was introduced as a way of supporting new school leaders, then focuses on the concept of mentoring. Sets out the main characteristics of mentoring in England in order to establish greater clarity about its definition. Considers the advantages and disadvantages of mentoring. Notes and discusses four advantages and four disadvantages. The advantages are: that mentoring for new heads facilitates peer support; enables newcomers to make the role and occupational identity changes necessary; benefits mentors as well as mentees; and the process encourages reflective practice. The disadvantages are: pairing new heads and mentors is problematic; there is a dearth of knowledge about the needs of new heads in the 1990s; advice from experienced heads may be outmoded; and mentoring may sustain too strong a belief in the central importance of headteachers. Finally, critically reviews the strengths and weaknesses of mentoring. Mentoring may stimulate reflective, critical leadership or be a means of passing on conservative role assumptions. At present we have too little data to say which, in practice, it really is.



Southworth, G. (1995), "Reflections on mentoring for new school leaders", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 17-28.




Copyright © 1995, MCB UP Limited

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