Teacher trainers' concern over mentor quality

Providers warn of 'perfect storm' post-coronavirus lockdown as most say there are not enough mentors for trainees

Catherine Lough

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Large numbers of teacher training providers are concerned about the quality and number of mentors for trainees, new research reveals.

A survey of more than 100 school-based providers has found that 90 per cent of providers were concerned about the quality of mentors they could recruit in "at least some instances".

The NASBTT – the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers – conducted the study in February, but warns the pandemic has since made the situation even worse.


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The survey also found that 90 per cent of respondents believed there was not enough capacity in the school system to provide trainees with mentors.

Conditions in schools after lockdown could now create a "perfect storm", according to NASBTT executive director Emma Hollis. 

She pointed out that there was a cohort of children who would have experienced collective trauma, that NQTs would have spent less time in schools than they usually would, and that mentors would be under greater pressure to fulfil the demands of the new career frameworks. 

Ms Hollis called on changes to the early career framework (ECF) and core content framework (CCF) to be delayed for a year to allow schools to rebuild their communities.

"I think the fact is we did the research before [the coronavirus outbreak] and it highlighted difficulties with the quality and quantity of mentors available to support the changes," she said.

"The changes with the CCF and ECF are great but they work only if they are supported by highly trained and highly qualified mentors.

"Mentors are always important for initial teacher training…the current crisis is only going to exacerbate those problems. Schools are going to need to rebuild and there are lots of question marks about when they will go back, if at all - it’s not going to be the same as switching a light on."

The survey also found that of the 38 per cent of respondents who thought there was time to build the capacity of mentors, and were confident demand would be met, more than two-thirds reported they were doing this "under their own steam".

When asked to identify the greatest barriers to developing high-quality mentors in schools, 75 per cent of the 106 respondents cited a lack of time within schools for mentors to carry out their role effectively, with a further 30 per cent highlighting schools' inability to release mentors for training purposes. 

Other key themes highlighted in the survey were funding, recognition for mentors and general support.

One in three respondents said emergency funds needed to be made available to schools to meet the demands on the system, while nearly one in five - 19 per cent - said there should be some form of formal recognition for mentors, such as an agreed title within the school management structure.

And 17 per cent said that general support, including more time within which to carry out the role, was required. 

Ms Hollis said that mentoring was always an important role in training, but would be even more pressured with a cohort of children who had "been through severe trauma", including bereavements and social isolation.

"There are so many unknowns but all we do know is capacity is going to be tight….added to that, the NQTs going in in September won’t have had as much time in school as they normally would have on their training programme, so they will need more support on their induction process."

"You add all of that together and it becomes a bit of a perfect storm of, 'So where are the people going to come from who have the head space, the capacity and the time for a role that will be more demanding?'"

She said both the NASBTT and James Noble Rodgers of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) had recommended delaying the framework changes for a year. 

"The formal requirements should be delayed. It should be the case that it’s a transition period until there’s some semblance of normality."

 

 

 

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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