Our vision for mentoring starts with the belief that the role of the mentor is integral to the Partnership London SCITT’s (PLS) ITT curriculum.

These expert colleagues are the consistent and simultaneous voice of the placement school and PLS. They are officially role models, educators and assessors, and unofficially counsellors, confidants and sometimes in loco parentis.

The importance of mentors is supported by the mentor standards, the ITT Core Content Framework, as well as our engagement with contemporary mentoring literature and theory. Therefore, PLS knew that we needed to invest in mentoring within our curriculum design and that investment should include time, training, intervention, resources, modelling and money.

Throughout 2019-20 we monitored effective practice, we reviewed alumni feedback, we read, we engaged in dialogues with existing mentors and the wider PLS team. We used our gained time in ‘Lockdown 1’ to cement our ideas into something cohesive, enriching and actionable, thinking optimistically that September 2020 would be a familiar fresh start.

The Plan:

Our approach to mentor support and development would have four key strands that we rationalised would contribute to our ethos of a learner, subject and society-focused curriculum.

Strand 1: Mentoring training

PLS would continue our investment in NASBTT’s TEP programme for new mentors joining the organisation. This would be obligatory with follow-up dialogues to ensure engagement and awareness of our investment in their professional development. Our reflections from our 2019-20 cohort found that the TEP programme teaches mentors to effectively impact on the critical reflection of trainees, which helps the mentee to become a practitioner informed by educational research. The TEP programme also allows mentors to be both responsive and directive in their approaches, teaching them how to mentor and coach effectively, and to know when and how to move between these roles.

Strand 2: Mentor feedback

PLS tutors would be trained to provide bespoke feedback to mentors in response to their professional dialogues with their mentees. Tutors would direct mentors to further reading as part of this feedback to achieve academic rigour and ensure their mentoring pedagogy was research-driven.

Strand 3: Mentor intervention 

After each mentoring training session, mentors would be asked to self-assess their competency against the mentor standards. This data would be analysed and intervention created to support progress in developing and emerging areas.

Strand 4: Professional Co-ordinating Mentors programme

PLS would provide a fully resourced programme for our Professional Co-ordinating Mentors (PCMs) to facilitate with mentors and trainees. This collaboration with PCMs would provide an extra layer of support as well as accountability to meet the requirements of the programme.

These strands aimed to further emphasise PLS position as a learning community with all those involved developing and educating each other to improve. We hoped this collegial learning experience would empower our mentors as learners and leaders of learning, and achieve our long-term goal of recruiting committed and adaptable mentors and retaining the same mentors every year to become a fundamental part of the PLS community.

Then September happened!

The Reality:

From April 2020, much of our vision for mentoring required adapting to ensure we could offer high-quality mentor training and support in reaction to the current climate. As with much of the world, we went online. Through research, and trial and error, PLS developed a number of strategies to prevent this virtual transition affecting the quality and impact of the training. We outline some of the benefits of using this platform, alongside other online resources below:

  1. The ability to record all mentor meetings and training sessions – allows for significant information to be accessed at a later date by any mentors who required support or catch-up.
  2. Saving and sending Zoom chats – provides an opportunity to save, edit and share key takeaways from Zoom meetings that can be shared with mentors. This includes sharing strategies PLS teachers have shared that can be forwarded as a tool to enhance weekly mentor meetings and guide target-setting.
  3. Weekly newsletter to PCMs and mentors – has always been valuable at PLS, but this year it holds even more weight due to its ability to communicate all recent news and updates to our mentors and PCMs via email.
  4. Online booking forms – allows us to collate registers quickly and easily, while also making it possible to engage with any mentors who have not yet signed-up for the appropriate compulsory mentor training sessions.
  5. The use of breakout rooms – allows us to continue to promote the significance of collaboration and networking among our mentors.
  6. The move to digital resources – ensures all mentors are sent editable documents via email in advance of sessions that can be returned to throughout the course of the programme.
  7. Evaluation forms – allows us to demonstrate reflexivity by gathering data at-a-glance, with key suggestions feeding back into our programme.

Our Next Steps:

To consider what training we offer beyond the Level 2 NASBTT TEP course and how we can maintain our relationship with previous teacher educators so they can continue to contribute towards our community, and ultimately inspire today’s learners to be tomorrow’s leaders.

Leanne Peck is SCITT Manager and PLS tutor, and Joyce Mawson is a PLS Tutor in the Partnership London SCITT





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