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Professor Claire E Ball-Smith



I joined the University of York’s Department of Education in August 2017 as Director of Initial Teacher Training. I work with the PGCE team to train 100-150 teachers a year in both Core PGCE and School Direct routes, with our partnership of over 50 schools in the York and North Yorkshire area. I also teach and supervise at Masters level across several department/faculty programmes.

Since coming to York, I have also helped develop the Yorkshire Teacher Enrichment Partnership - a collaboration between York St John University, The University of York, our key schools partners and City of York Council. Our main aim is to work together across partners to enrich the continuous professional development of all teachers in and around the city of York.

I am an external examiner for the University of Nottingham and the University of Durham in PGCE courses, and an occasional PhD and MRes external examiner for various universities.

Outside my working life, you'll find me walking, hiking, canoeing, camping and listening to folk music (especially live). I try to get back to Durham (my alma mater), to Derbyshire (my family home), the Lake District (my spiritual home), and finally to Canada (my beloved Albertan and BC Rockies) as often as I can.


My first degree was from the University of Durham where I stayed to undertake my own PGCE. As a practising teacher I completed my MAEd, and PGDip with the Open University before undertaking my PhD as a fully funded international graduate scholar at the University of Calgary. I have worked in the initial teacher education field for the last two decades.

Prior to working in initial teacher education, I taught in schools in the north of England (Yorkshire and Derbyshire), in the South West of England (Bristol), and in Kenya (Nakuru - where all the flamingos are). I am also a governor for my local primary school federation in the town where I live.

Departmental roles

  • Director of Initial Teaching Training

University roles

  • Deputy Chair of Professional Programmes Forum



I have specific interests and expertise in:

  • Teacher education
  • History education
  • Mentorying and coaching
  • Hermeneutic approaches to education

My key research areas are:

  • Mentoring and coaching - The role of professional teachers as mentors
  • Teaching education - The experience of teaching for the first time (emphasis on the student perspective), the growing identity and professionalism of young teachers


Selected publications

Ball-Smith, C (forthcoming) ‘Peer Mentoring Relationships for Professional Placements’ in (Eds.) Woolhouse, C. and Nicholson, L. Mentoring in Higher Education: Case Studies of Peer Learning and Pedagogical Development (Palgrave MacMillan)

Contact details

Dr Claire E Ball-Smith
Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323441