Schools struggle to find time to mentor NQTs

Study by the Department for Education finds NQTs are not being given enough support because of time constraints

Catherine Lough

NQT mentoring

A new report from the Department for Education has found that schools lack the time and resources to give newly qualified teachers appropriate levels of mentoring and support.

The report – Schools’ Experiences of Hosting Trainees and Employing Newly Qualified Teachers – published today, found that in some schools, trainees or NQTs and mentors found it “difficult to meet on a regular basis”.

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While this was not an issue in schools that timetabled these meetings as part of protected time, in those schools that did not, “the regularity and consistency of mentor meetings appeared to vary widely”, with mentors called to cover other classes rather than meet with trainees.

Where meetings did not take place, most trainees said they had a follow-up meeting with their mentor to catch up, yet in a small number of cases time constraints meant that lesson observations had not been carried out, several meetings had been missed and not caught up, and the required evidence had not been signed off for the trainee.

Statutory regulations state that trainees on any route should meet with their mentor for at least one hour per week.

Mentors and school leaders emphasised that the support they provided went “well beyond the required hourly meeting per week”, with mentors also providing informal support such as answering questions, dropping in on trainees for brief lesson observations and liaising with school staff to assess development areas and arrange specific training for NQTs and trainees.

However, mentors reported that they were not always given release time from schools to attend training days, and that meetings with trainees were not always timetabled as protected time. In some cases, providers tried to deliver school-based training where mentors had not been able to attend training days, yet a small number of providers were no longer able to give in-house training due to “budgetary constraints”.

The report also found that schools’ relationships with "appropriate bodies" – the organisations responsible for quality assuring NQT induction – was highly variable. There was limited evidence that these bodies played a role in quality assurance of the support provided to NQTs, or that they provided additional training opportunities for NQTs.

Appropriate bodies said that as they were responsible for several hundred NQTs it was not possible to visit all of them, and they therefore targeted resources at NQTs who were deemed to be at risk of failing their induction year.

However, several senior leaders and mentors reported that their contact with appropriate bodies was purely administrative, and that appropriate bodies did not give guidance on the type or level of support that schools should provide to NQTs.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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