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Dr 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 over 100 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.

Outside my working life, you'll find me walking, hiking, canoeing and camping; occasionally keeping bees (and trying not to get stung); learning how to relax in Pilates (depending on the elasticity level needed for the exercise) and getting fitter as the world’s slowest jogger; spoiling my three nieces (who're about to reach teenager-hood); and listening to folk music (especially live). I try to get back to Durham (my alma mater), to Derbyshire (my family home) and to Canada (my beloved Albertan and BC Rockies) as often as I can.


Prior to coming to York I was the Deputy Director for the Institute of Childhood and Education overseeing all postgraduate and external partnership work. I came to Leeds Trinity University in September 2007, working across the next decade in the following roles:

  • AO Programme Manager (2011-14)
  • MAEd Module Leader (Curriculum Studies, Coaching and Mentoring, Investigating Professional Practice)
  • MAEd Dissertation Supervisor (2011-17)
  • PGCE Admissions Tutor (2012-15)
  • PGCE SD Programme Leader, Dixons City Academy (2013-15)
  • PhD Supervisor (2015-17)

My first degree was from the University of Durham where I stayed to do my own PGCE. As a practising teacher I undertook my MAEd, 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 17 years. Prior to this, 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).

Departmental roles

  • Director of Initial Teaching Training



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
  • History education (big picture frameworks) - Big Picture Framework history following the QCA Historical Framework Project with Institute of Education, London (2009)

Contact details

Dr Claire Smith
Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323441