A major new mentoring programme that you could help develop and that could help develop you

Dr Catherine Manning, the Education and Training Foundation’s National Head of Practitioner Research and Development, previews an exciting new project to develop the use of mentoring in the FE and Training Sector, the part you could play and the potential benefits of the work.

Mentoring, research suggests, is the most effective form of supporting the professional development of beginning teachers. And that mentoring is likely to be most beneficial when the mentors have undertaken a programme of mentoring preparation or education. For those unaware of the arguments and evidence in this area, I recommend you start with the work of Professor Andrew Hobson, who is based at the University of Brighton..

At the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) we advocate an approach to mentoring and coaching of teachers in the Further Education and Training sector which fulfils three criteria. It should be developmental and nurturing in its nature, rooted in collaboration and support, and adaptable to the individual needs of the mentee or coachee.

We are therefore pleased to have been chosen by the Department for Education to deliver a programme of work that focuses on developing high-quality mentoring training to support teachers. The programme will look at the early careers of teachers onwards, with the intention of helping them develop and progress within the sector in order to improve the retention of new practitioners entering the Further Education and Training sector. This is a really exciting opportunity that we hope will significantly bolster the contribution of mentoring and benefit colleagues, students and institutions.

The overall aims of the programme will be to improve the quality of mentoring for practitioners in the Further Education and Training sector to increase the effectiveness of the support offered to mentees. We anticipate that this programme will promote a shared understanding of what makes up effective mentoring practices, produce a high-quality and evidence-informed training for new mentors, produce an ambitious ongoing professional development for experienced or qualified mentors, raise awareness of what mentoring looks like, and promote best practice for mentoring.

To help us deliver that programme we are looking to commission experts in this area and are inviting responses to a tender – Professional development for mentors and coaches of practitioners in Further Education and Training – from interested parties before the deadline of noon on 26 June.

There will be four strands to the programme:

  • Strand 1: Mentoring framework and accompanying guides
  • Strand 2: Desk-based research on effective mentoring training
  • Strand 3: Management of financial support for mentoring professional development in the FE sector
  • Strand 4: Professional development programmes for mentors.

The mentoring framework and accompanying guides strand will focus on the development of an ETF mentoring framework, outlining expectations for mentors’ behaviours, skills and knowledge. It will also include the production of three guides for three different audiences – mentors, mentees, and leaders – that will feature practical advice to be drawn upon by those working in the sector.

The second strand will be a desk-based, qualitative scoping study identifying features of effective mentoring training. That could draw on examples of mentoring training taking place not just in Further Education, but also across the broader education sector and contexts outside education.

Strand three, the management of financial support for mentoring professional development in the FE sector, will commission a body that will manage a financial support package for FE providers to support the professional development of their mentors. Providers across the sector – including colleges, prisons, independent training providers and others – either alone or in groups, will be able to apply for a grant to enable mentors in their organisation/s to undertake professional development. The grants will cover costs such as reducing a mentor’s teaching timetable so that they can undertake a mentoring professional development course, conduct mentoring support and meet with their mentor on a regular basis. They will also meet the administrative costs of a mentoring coordinator and the travel costs for mentors attending the in-person mentoring professional development programme.

The final strand will be the development and delivery of three high-quality professional development programmes for mentors and coaches in the FE sector. The first will be an online introduction to mentoring teachers of between five to seven hours’ duration. The second and third will be blended programmes that will involve approximately 40 hours of activity over a six-month period, immersing participants in simulations to experience and reflect on different mentoring techniques. One will be for those new to mentoring, and the other for experienced or qualified mentors.

Together these four strands of activity will deliver a really exciting programme with enormous potential. We’re looking forward to getting started and hearing from those who want to be involved. If you’re as excited by this opportunity as much as we are, I encourage you to read the tender. Like all ETF tenders, Professional development for mentors and coaches of practitioners in Further Education and Training is managed through the mytenders.co.uk portal. All tender submissions should be made via myTenders.co.uk no later than 12 noon on Friday 26 June 2020. For general enquiries, please contact Melissa Ruxton.

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