This year, the James Furlong Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mentoring in the University of Reading Secondary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Partnership has been awarded to Nicola Reynolds (Maiden Erlegh School, Reading) and Georgie Moores (Bulmershe School, Wokingham).

This is the second year of this mentoring prize, named in tribute to James Furlong, a beloved and exceptional mentor and teacher in the University of Reading ITE Partnership. The James Furlong Award has continued to grow in status, and this year nearly 40 nominations were submitted by trainee teachers, University staff and school partners. The panel had a very difficult decision to make and ultimately decided that Nicola and Georgie were both worthy winners.

Female teaching mentor, holding up award, stood next to male programme director for secondary.
Georgie Moores presented with her award.
Female mentor holding up her award, stood between male Headteacher and male Programme Director for Secondary
Nicola Reynolds presented with her award, next to Paul Gibbons (left), Head teacher of Maiden Erlegh School.









When presented with their awards, both Nicola and Georgie enthused about the joy they get from seeing trainees develop into excellent teachers. Nicola emphasised how rewarding it is to be the person who acts as a conduit between research, evidence and classroom practice, helping the trainee teachers turn big ideas and aspirations into classroom successes. For Georgie, there is a thrill in the shared experiences, particularly during “those light bulb moments, when you are the one who helps something just click for the trainee.” As Nicola says, “I love seeing people apply what they’ve learnt, seeing success. Those times when you can say to your trainee, ‘you did that!’ It just feels amazing to watch them bloom and blossom.”

Both Nicola and Georgie also identified the positive effect of mentoring with the University of Reading for their own professional development. Nicola is committed to the notion of humans as ‘lifelong learners’ and mentoring ensures her practice “doesn’t get stale”. To Georgie, the professional development on offer means that, even though it is hard work, “mentoring with Reading reminds me of the excitement you feel when you develop as a teacher, at any stage of your career, and by working with a trainee I always want to practise what I preach.”

Nicola or Georgie recognised that mentors require the support of the colleagues and the University in order to thrive in the role. Nicola enthused about the support she received from her department, her ITTCo and her SLT who all see mentoring as crucial. By discussing different strategies for supporting her trainees and sharing expertise, Nicola has been able to shape bespoke experiences for her trainees that she would have struggled to do operating in isolation. Georgie also highlighted the role of strong relationships with the subject tutors at the University; “it’s so important to know that the University has my back and values me, but also is always looking out for the needs of the trainee.”

When asked if they had any tips for aspiring University of Reading mentors:

Nicola said:

“Try to prepare in advance so that you can help the trainee settle really quickly – for instance I give mine a little handbook with their timetable, curriculum overview, topics where they will have lots of freedom to innovate and be creative. Whoever your trainee is, and whatever other pressures you have on you in school, identify the things about mentoring that you will really enjoy and make sure you hold onto these. Mentoring can be hard but when it clicks it is such a beautiful thing.”

Georgie said:

“Take the time to get to know your trainee. Each will be different. You need to find out their strengths as well as their areas for development. Even as an experienced teacher you need an open mind – you will be able to learn from them too. I don’t want teachers who are all carbon copies of existing teachers , and therefore I always go into mentoring thinking that I will learn from my trainee. The joy of mentoring is helping people find their own voice, celebrating individuals and their place in a school community, and finding space for differences in teaching.”

This award means something particularly special to Georgie. In 2018, Georgie was a PGCE student at the Holt School, where James Furlong was her mentor, “This award really does mean so much. James was such an incredible teacher and mentor.” When asked whether James still influenced her, Georgie said, “of course, so much! I think about how unflappable he was. He would just roll with stuff. When there were problems, issues, he didn’t blow it out of proportion, he would put you at ease and look for solutions. I try to emulate that in my practice.”

The James Furlong Award has become a fitting tribute to both James’ legacy and the vital contribution that mentor makes to the University of Reading ITE Partnership. Here is the list of nominated mentors in full:


Nominee Subject School
Caitlin Sygrove History Oakmoor
Ben Sprague Chemistry Bulmershe
Tom Bains Maths St Crispins
Louise McGuinness Science Waingels
Nadine Watson English King’s Academy Binfield
Georgie Moores History Bulmershe
Luke Reynolds DT Wren
Kate Benson RE St Crispins
Fiona Oehlman Science Court Moor
Paul Matthias English Little Heath
James Crowther Chemistry Kendrick
Sam Johnson History Ranelagh
Beth Thornicroft History Prospect
Sian Young PE MES
David McArthur Computing UTC
Liz Gregory History Kennet
Gemma Bover Maths Wren
Nicola Reynolds MFL MES
Catherine Hawkes English Fernhill
Geraldine Hearn Science St Crispins
Harriet Speed Science Tomlinscote
Severine Mourey + Lisa Loch MFL Fernhill
Rebecca de Bruin Science Garth Hill
Gurjeet Bahra Art Furze Platt
Cheila Rose-Burns Art Calthorpe Park
Serena Eggers and Victoria Geraghty-Green


English Reading School
Jack Mundell English Denefield
Stewart Cockerham Maths Trinity
Morag Bell DT St Barts
Stephen Perrin History Upton Court
Sonja Hammond Science Trinity
Craig Humber PE Emmbrook
Jez Flynn PE MES
Darren Hunter PE Chiltern Edge