Why good mentors are worth sticking around for

21st February 2014 at 00:00

I was interested to read the article "Leaving because they care too much to stay" (Comment, 14 February). Apparently, attrition rates can be "as high as 30 per cent in the first three years of teaching". But what of those who never get to qualified teacher status? What is the attrition rate in training, I wonder?

Whether this exodus comes during training or post-qualification, what surprised me was that no mention was made of the role of mentors. I suspect that this may well be the all-important elephant in the room.

With professional qualifications, a first-class degree and training to teach in maths with a bursary of #163;20,000, I have resigned my placement. The reason? Having to liaise with a mentor who had apparently drawn the short straw in mentoring me, whose response to any difficulty was to say only "welcome to teaching" and who seemed to have no enthusiasm for either teaching or their subject, I was finally put in an untenable position by a demand I couldn't meet. That the demand was deemed unreasonable by my training provider was scant comfort.

Talking to other trainees, I was by no means alone in having an uninterested and uninspiring mentor. I suspect that attrition rates, both pre- and post-qualification, could be improved if proper attention was given to mentor selection and training. It really isn't good enough for a teacher to be given the role simply because they are available to take it on.

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