Mentoring for School Leaders

Course Overview

Mentoring relationships are part of the makeup of most schools, whether they be in the formal sense or through professional relationships between colleagues. This course will discuss the following aspects of mentoring in schools.

2.1 Mentoring, Coaching and Supervising

Mentoring and coaching are identified as collaborative relationships, intended to support the teacher, executive or principal to develop professionally. Mentoring and coaching may involve lateral as well as hierarchical relationships. Supervision introduces a definite hierarchical perspective, where the teacher, executive or principal is generally accountable to a more senior position. This does not absolve the supervisor from playing a major role in the professional development of the person who they are supervising.

2.2 Is Mentoring for Me?

In preparing for a role as a mentor there are many questions which will be raised, professionally and personally. In this section we will discuss the obvious questions which may or should be asked and identify others.

2.3 Who May be a Mentee?

Mentoring relationships may be usual at any stage of a career. Structured mentor programs have been and are being used in universities and in school systems to support initial teacher education students and beginning teachers. There are also benefits in mentor relationships as an experienced teacher, executive or principal. In fact, mentoring is used commonly in more senior non-school positions across the Department, across government and in other workforces.

2.4 The Literature

There is a wealth of literature relating to the use of mentoring, formally and informally, in schools and in many other professions. This literature will be considered in a latter part of the course, particularly as relating to models of practice.

2.5 Mentoring in Public Schools

In recent years the term mentoring has often been associated with specific programs designed to foster collegial support and collaborative working relationships. While this formal structure has generally been supported by government funding to provide release and access to development activities, informal mentoring has always existed in schools.

Beginning permanent teachers in NSW public schools previously had access to Teacher Mentors at the level of head teacher and assistant principal. These teachers were appointed to high demand schools to provide support to beginning teachers, particularly in relation to their progress towards accreditation and permanency.

2.6 The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers “articulate what teachers are expected to know and be able to do at four career stages: Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead”2. In New South Wales public schools the standards underpin the work of teachers, executives and principals and are used as the basis for other processes such as professional development support and the selection of staff.

2.7 Performance and Development Framework

While the primary relationship around which the Performance and Development Framework is centred on the participant and their supervisor, there is a role for the mentor in supporting the process, particularly as the participant works towards the achievement of their professional goals.

2.8 Critical Elements of Successful Mentoring

Among other factors successful mentoring is dependent on the skills of the mentor and the willingness of the mentee to participate in the mentoring relationship. The attributes and behaviours of mentors contribute significantly to the success of the relationship, as do the workplace and learning environment.

2.9 Successful Matching of Mentors and Mentees

The matching of mentors and mentees is critical to success, as with any successful working relationship. There are many examples of processes used to match mentors and mentees in the workplace, often driven by the formal designations and roles of staff. Many mentoring relationships are formed by mutual agreement and are not necessarily centred on a single workplace.

2.10 Building Relationships and Trust

The building of relationships and trust is critical to a successful and professionally collaborative working environment.


Completing a Mentoring for School Leaders course will contribute 12 hours of NESA Registered PD addressing: 3.3.3, 3.6.3, 6.1.3, 6.2.3, 6.3.3, 7.4.3 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient or Highly Accomplished Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Target Participants

Executives and Principals who participate in a mentoring relationship.


Face to face and small group work.