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Small Development Projects 2011 - Conservatoire for Dance and Drama - Small and specialist institution mentoring training for staff

SDP leader
Julie Crofts, Administrative Director, Conservatoire for Dance and Drama

Project advisers and steering committee
Julie Amber: HR Manager, Conservatoire for Dance and Drama and Head of Studies, LAMDA
Rebecca Bull, Project Manager, MASHEIN
Dr Nick Dickson, Head of Learning and Teaching, London Contemporary Dance School and L&T Adviser, Conservatoire for Dance and Drama
Lois Keith, Equality and Diversity Manager, Conservatoire for Dance and Drama
Jessica Mahoney, Community and Outreach Manager, Central School of Ballet

Administrative support to be provided by the Conservatoire and MASHEIN. We will seek steering committee members from other MASHEIN members if the project application is successful.

Aims and objectives
The aim of this particular project is to establish a team of well-trained and prepared mentors who can support individuals within small and specialist higher education institutions, especially those with an arts focus.

To achieve this aim, the Conservatoire, in association with MASHEIN, intends to deliver the following objectives:

  • create a bespoke short training programme for intending mentors, including ongoing support, targeted at those seeking or within leadership positions;
  • use the skills of the alumni of MASHEIN’s Leadership Development Programmes for principals and senior managers and academic heads of department (around 35 individuals);
  • improve participation in MASHEIN’s Leadership Foundation supported Mentoring/Shadowing Programme.

The ultimate aim of this activity is to enable staff at small and specialist higher education institutions to benefit from a mentoring programme designed to provide peer support, career development, institutional sharing and leadership development.

These aims and objectives meet most of the Leadership Foundation’s objects including creating a tailored approach suitable for small, specialist (and particularly arts) institutions; widening the pool from which leaders can be drawn and actively promoting a culture of organisational learning.

Purpose of project
The Conservatoire is composed of eight affiliate schools which joined the Conservatoire to secure their future sustainability within a higher education framework. This gives the organisation the unique experience of being a microcosm of larger HE networks but its schools also operate very much as arts organisations. For staff, there can be the feeling of falling between the two types of organisation. The mentoring programme will be particularly beneficial to staff who work in areas where a ‘department’ can mean one individual, for example communications, student support, counselling and physical support, costume management and design, widening participation and outreach, quality assurance and corporate governance. The Conservatoire has identified some specific gaps, including:

  • small, often single-person led departments;
  • limited opportunities for promotion;
  • no clear sense of career progression or path;
  • limited development and training opportunities, especially moving towards leadership;
  • relatively few networking opportunities which can create institutional myopia;
  • increasing exacerbation of situation through funding cuts.

The Conservatoire is very involved in most aspects of the MASHEIN programme and values greatly the development, networking, sharing and training opportunities it delivers. This project aims to build on the work already undertaken by MASHEIN to develop a mentoring scheme but will focus on the training, preparation and support of those mentors, something that MASHEIN staff have identified as a need. The project was inspired by the Women in Universities Mentoring Scheme (WUMS) operating at Welsh universities.


The project is planned with four stages:

February – May 2011
The project team will work with professionals to devise a one-day training programme coupled with ongoing support, for intending mentors. Eight mentors from Conservatoire schools will be identified to participate in the scheme and the Conservatoire will also invite individuals to participate as mentees within the scheme.

June – July 2011
Mentor training commences focused on the Conservatoire as a pilot. We have individuals identified who would be both willing to act as mentors and interested in having a mentor allocated to them.

August – December 2011
Assuming that the training of mentors is successful, the programme would extend to other arts HEIs within the MASHEIN group. Again, these are institutions that are familiar with one another, but widens the project. A further group of mentors from arts HEIs will be trained and matched with mentees.

January – February 2012
The final phase of the project will be to deliver further training to staff from any MASHEIN institution.

The specific methodology will build on existing mentoring training within both the higher education and cultural sector (the WUMS scheme mentioned above, the Leadership Foundation expertise and that of the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme, another source of training and development for Conservatoire school staff). The approach will be defined in the first phase of the project.

The organisation of the training programme will be undertaken by Julie Crofts, as project leader, in close consultation with Rebecca Bull (MASHEIN) and Jess Mahoney (CSB). All members of the project team have delivered development training but Julie Amber (HR Manager) and Lois Keith (E&D Manager) are well-established trainers. Expert advice and preparation of training materials will be necessary and this is included within the budget. The project team has identified possible consultants to work on this project. Administration of the project will be conducted by staff within the Conservatoire and MASHEIN (the budget includes an allowance for administrative support).


  • A better understanding of the training and support required to improve career progression and succession planning for specialist arts administrators in higher education contexts.
  • A network of trained mentors across arts-based institutions and small HEIs more generally which can be utilised by institutions in the sector.
  • The establishment of a support network for those employed in arts administration roles in higher education.


  • Mentor training designed specifically to meet the needs of those operating in the small institution context.
  • Development of training materials to support mentors which could be rolled out to the wider sector.
  • A short project report outlining the key issues, methodology used in the development of the training and case studies outlining participant experiences and consequent mentor/mentee relationships.
  • If appropriate, a section dedicated to the project in the MASHEIN section of the Leadership Foundation website.

Intended benefits

For the mentors:

  • appropriate training and preparation to act as a mentor
  • expanded contacts
  • support from other mentors, the project team and MASHEIN
  • enhancing personnel skills and thus career choices
  • satisfaction from involvement in the development of mentees

For the Conservatoire:

  • opportunity for high quality training which would otherwise be unaffordable
  • improved understanding of job roles, responsibilities and opportunities for enhancement without leaving current post
  • providing opportunities for new challenges for staff
  • possibly lead to new developments such as secondments between institutions
  • enhancing and underpinning other forms of leadership training (eg Clore programme)

For MASHEIN and its institutions:

  • enhanced visibility of the mentoring and shadowing programme
  • extending the lifetime of the mentoring and shadowing programme
  • development opportunity for institutional staff who have attended other MASHEIN training
  • enhanced integration of the MASHEIN group of institutions

The benefits ascribed to mentoring schemes for the mentees themselves are well documented elsewhere and include career development, improved networking and increased self-confidence.


  • May 2011: Programme developed, training day booked, Conservatoire mentors identified.
  • August 2011: At least 6 Conservatoire mentors trained.
  • December 2011: At least 6 arts HEI mentors trained. At least 4 Conservatoire mentoring relationships established.
  • February 2012: At least 6 MASHEIN mentors trained.

Further 5 arts mentoring relationships established.

Total of 18 mentors trained, and 10-15 mentoring relationships established by the project end.

Plans for dissemination

  • Dissemination activities will include:
  • A MASHEIN Key Issues Awareness Programme event to share the project’s outcomes and outputs with the small institution sector.
  • Distribution of training materials developed by the project to the wider HE sector as appropriate.
  • Dissemination of the project’s progress through the Conservatoire’s web site and through the appropriate section of the MASHEIN pages on the Leadership Foundation’s website.
  • Article(s) in the Leadership Foundation’s publication Engage or it's in-depth supplement In Practice.
  • Publication of a more scholarly article on the project’s findings appropriate for a higher education publication such as Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education or a subject publication such as Research in Dance Education.

Please see below the materials the Conservatoire has developed through their inter-affiliate mentoring programme project:

CDD Mentoring Programme Handbook_October 2011
CDD Mentoring Programme Handbook_October 2011 View Document
CDD Matching form for mentees
CDD Matching form for mentees View Document
CDD Matching form for mentors
CDD Matching form for mentors View Document
CDD Mentoring Contract
CDD Mentoring Contract View Document
CDD Examples of mentoring records
CDD Examples of mentoring records View Document
CDD Leaflet being a mentee web
CDD Leaflet being a mentee web View Document
CDD Mentoring Programme Exit Review
CDD Mentoring Programme Exit Review View Document