Mentor Education and Development in the Further Education sector in England

Robinson, Carol and Hobson, Andrew J (2017) Mentor Education and Development in the Further Education sector in England. Education Research Centre, University of Brighton, Brighton.

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Previous research has established that the mentoring of teachers and lecturers in schools and colleges tends to be more effective where mentors are able to take advantage of appropriate opportunities for initial mentor preparation and ongoing development (Bullough, 2005; Hobson et al., 2009; Hobson et al., 2015; Lejonberg et al., 2015). While some studies (e.g. Fransson, 2016) identify positive impacts of mentors undertaking or gaining formal mentoring qualifications or accreditation, the evidence base is inconclusive on the added value of formal mentoring qualifications and accreditation, over and above effective non-accredited mentor preparation, training and development. This report summarises the main outcomes of a small-scale research project designed to investigate the education and development of mentors of teachers and lecturers in the Further Education (FE) sector in England. Within this broad aim we sought to examine: 1) The nature, take-up and perceived impact of mentor training, education and CPD; 2) The availability of general and teacher-specific mentoring qualifications and accreditation to mentors in the English FE sector; 3) The extent to which mentoring qualifications or accreditation are provided or recommended by university or college providers of FE ITE; 4) The potential added value of mentors undertaking formal mentoring qualifications or accreditation, over and above non-accredited forms of mentor training and development; 5) Barriers to the provision and take-up of training, education and CPD for mentors of teachers/lecturers in the FE sector in England. For the purposes of the research we defined mentoring broadly as a one to one relationship designed (partly or wholly) to support the mentee’s learning and development as a teacher/ lecturer. We were thus also interested in coaching insofar as it also seeks to support teachers’/lecturers’ professional learning and development.[1] We were interested in the training, education and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of mentors (and coaches) of: teacher trainees undertaking programmes of (pre- or in-service) initial teacher training or education (ITT/ITE); and of any other teachers/lecturers (of varying degrees of experience) in the FE sector.[1] Nonetheless, we normally use the term mentor(ing), in this report, as the broader or more general term to refer to both mentor(ing) and/or coach(ing). While there is a lack of consensus regarding the meaning and use of the terms mentoring and coaching, we take coaching to be one of a number of specific roles that may be undertaken by a mentor in supporting a mentee’s learning and development, and one which relates to attempts to support an individual’s development of one or more job-specific skills or capabilities (Malderez and Bodoczky, 1999; Hopkins-Thompson, 2000).