Testimonials from Joan Henderson’s mentoring work, including  feedback from principals, professionals and practitioners concerning “What support was required?”, “How did Joan support you?” and “What difference did it make?”.

Name of Principal:

Stephen Moore


Name of School:

Academy Primary & Nursery School, Saintfield

“We asked Joan to give us an “objective outsider’s” input on how our school was doing and what steps it needed to take in sustaining a high level of quality learning and teaching.

Joan encouraged and supported us in planning a shared roadmap, giving direction with appropriate stepping stones along the way, to enable the two agreed target areas to be monitored and evaluated.

The main difference, to date, has been to encourage and challenge both SLT and the staff to consider their own teaching / roles and how they can seek to do that better. It is hoped that with a strong focus on teaching that this will enhance the performance of every teacher and that this will have an even greater impact on children/s learning in our school.”

Name of Principal:

Peter Garrett


Name of School:

Moyle Primary School, Larne

“We were looking for advice on developing the provision in the Nursery Unit to be more child-centred.

Joan provided a day’s INSET giving specific advice for our setting.  What impressed me most was the tailoring of the support to our individual needs. 

Following Joan’s support, the staff of the nursery were much more confident in the way ahead in making the provision more child-centred.  They developed a detailed action plan identifying areas, actions and impact to be taken in order to address specific areas in our setting. 

As a result the provision in our Nursery is now ‘high quality’ and our P1 teachers have remarked on how independent and confident the children coming into P1 are in comparison to previous years. Following a recent inspection from ETI the nursery’s provision was deemed to be outstanding.

The approach that Joan took was very positive, empowering to our staff and focused on improving the provision for our children.”

Name of Teacher:

Kierna Corr


Name of School:

Windmill Integrated Primary School

“After our recent inspection highlighted a need for further training for all the staff on record keeping, assessment and planning, it was felt we should engage help to begin this process. Joan had been highly recommended by another colleague in a nursery school.

Joan joined us for a half day and a full day of training. Her advice was practical and any actions advised were achievable. Joan was willing to answer any queries staff had on and had lots of examples of highly effective planning and ways to record meaningful observations.

Personally, Joan gave me the confidence to stand up for the children in my class, to be a true advocate for the pre-school curriculum.

All the staff have felt more confident about how they record observations and how to be more focused in their recording. Planning has been simplified and more meaningful as a result of Joan’s advice and support. The tighter record keeping has made parent/teacher meetings more meaningful and it has been easier to fill in Individual Educational Plan’s. There is a more unified approach by all of the  staff in their involvement and engagement with the children.”

Name of Principal:

Jacqueline Coulter


Name of School:

Ballymena Nursery School, Ballymena

“ As a new principal, we were focusing on developing a unity and shared approach for the new school team. This included a programme of professional development and team discussions on developments and current initiatives within the early years sector.

This resulted in the agreement of whole school procedures and approaches for  staff interactions and involvement in their daily practice.


Joan, planned and delivered a programme for the whole staff focusing on appropriate age and stage related experiences and the impact of expectations around developing the children’s independence, self help skills and autonomy.

As a result, the staff are working well as a team, there is a more reflective atmosphere, systems and procedures are now well established and the learning environment has been effectively developed both indoors and outdoors. The staff are focusing more sharply on the children’s learning and how they can sustain and extend their learning.”

Name of Principal:

Anne Graham


Name of School:

Cairnshill Primary School, Saintfield Road, Belfast

“Having been in a lengthy period of change we had highlighted areas in the SDP that required urgent focus. I had attended a ‘Dissemination of Good Practice’ event and on hearing Joan present I immediately recognized that she was the very person to help mentor the necessary changes required in school.

Joan has been and continues to be a great motivator and facilitator within school.

Through Joan’s insight, knowledge and expertise she has helped bring about the essential changes required: by encouraging staff to reflect; carry out a baseline; through engaging in honest and open discussions; observations of lessons; providing honest, informative report back and then mentoring the journey of change utilizing her wealth and breadth of experience.

It has been a privilege having Joan to mentor within school.  She has an engaging personality and very quickly gained the respect of all staff.

With Joan’s input we have a clear strategic vision for the future of the school.  Joan has helped manage and direct the programme and drive forward the focus for improvement, with all of the Cairnshill community profiting.”

“I believe the authority with which you present and speak from, enables you to drive a focus for a school. I believe you listened to me and quickly interpreted my vision and focus. From this point you were able to help us as a school move forward in realising our potential.”

Principal Mr Damian McGuckian, St Joseph’s P.S and NU