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Senior staff may have to mentor

EXPERIENCED teachers may soon have to mentor trainees if they want to progress up the upper pay spine.

The idea was mooted at a teacher training conference this week, as pressure grows for national standards for school-based mentors and coaches.

Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency, stressed the importance of mentoring for inexperienced staff.

He told delegates that the Department for Education and Skills was looking closely at how to improve the quality and consistency of mentoring. Ideas under discussion include new national standards for mentors, ring-fenced funding for mentor training, and making mentoring skills a threshold or post-threshold requirement, he told the National Association of School Based Teacher Trainers' annual conference in London.

Margaret Newsome, 51, head of textiles and an experienced mentor at King James's school in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, said she would would like to see national standards and common accreditation for mentors.

She has been mentoring trainees for around 10 years, and is also involved in training and supporting new mentors. "I get a lot of personal satisfaction in helping colleagues, but it also keeps me on the ball," she said. "When you are mentoring, you take a step back and look at practising what you preach. You cannot mentor effectively if you are not aware of your own teaching."

Mentors play a vital role in helping new staff, observing lessons and reporting on their progress.

Inconsistencies in training for the growing band of mentors were highlighted at a conference on early professional development held by the Standing Committee for the Education and Training of Teachers, a support group for training providers, last week.

Delegates noted that, in some areas, universities offered training for mentors that could lead to a masters qualification, while others had no formal mentor training.

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