'Grave concerns' over teacher mentoring

Lack of time for school mentoring puts Early Career Framework and teacher training placements at risk, providers warn

Matilda Martin

Teacher standing in front of blackboard looking stressed

Major concerns around the lack of time for mentoring in schools – and its impact on teacher training placements – are set out in a survey today.

Nearly all (97 per cent) of the 160 Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers surveyed by the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) were concerned about time and capacity for teacher mentoring in schools.

Emma Hollis, NASBTT executive director, revealed the findings at her organisation's annual conference this morning.


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She said: “This survey highlights once again the grave concerns about mentoring capacity that exists within schools and, regrettably, this is now having a direct impact on the availability of ITT placements in some teacher training provision.” 

There have been previous warnings about mentor shortages caused by the pandemic.

But Ms Hollis said capacity was being further stretched by the requirements of the Early Career Framework, the Core Content Framework setting out what teachers should know and be able to do at different career stages, and the suggested changes in the ITT market review.

Ms Hollis warned these pressures could force schools to "cease involvement in ITT because they simply do not have sufficient capacity to provide the level of mentoring support that is required of them".

The Department for Education's final plans for ITT are expected to be published soon when it sets out its response to the controversial ITT market review.

Early career teachers

The survey also reveals that 87.5 per cent of teacher educators are concerned that school mentors do not have sufficient time and capacity to support their early career teachers, as expected under current statutory induction guidance set out by the DfE's Early Career Framework (ECF).

Asked about ITT placements for trainees in the 2021-22 academic year, 71 per cent of respondents say they currently have enough placements.

For the 23 per cent of ITT providers who do not, 89 per cent claim this is due to mentoring time and capacity directly impacting on the ability of partner schools to take on trainee teachers for ITT placements.

The survey, which included responses from 160 NASBTT members and non-members, found that a further 93 per cent of respondents – school-centred initial teacher training (SCITTs), School Direct lead schools and higher education institutions – did not expect the availability of mentoring within schools to improve within the next 12 to 18 months without further intervention.

Only 3 per cent did expect an improvement.

Ms Hollis said "sustained investment" was needed to "build capacity across the system".

She said: “Whilst the government may have committed to 500,000 placements by the end of this Parliament through the ECF, achieving these levels of training will be extremely challenging for the sector without additional intervention."

What are the causes of these concerns?

The survey revealed that the biggest reason for the respondents' concerns is the demand of mentoring time introduced as a result of national roll-out of the ECF (136 responses).

Other challenges are:

  • Covid-related pressures such as staff illness or absence (93 responses)
  • lack of funding available to pay for mentor release (91 responses)
  • the impact of Covid recovery measures on school capacity (82 responses)
  • general capacity issues in schools not caused by Covid (81 responses), and
  • lack of appropriately skilled or trained staff (44 responses).

Ms Hollis said: "We have done everything in our power to represent the interests of schools-led teacher training provision through the ITT market review.

"We have also reached out to introduce ourselves to the new ministerial team of Nadhim Zahawi and Robin Walker. We will continue to fight your corner, and will also stand by you to guide you through any changes coming."

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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Matilda Martin

Find me on Twitter @Matilda__martin

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