Further Forces ONSIDE Mentor: Mark Hobson

What made you want to be a mentor of Further Forces trainees?

I am ex-military and I transitioned into teaching. Also, as an Open University lecturer, I am used to students who are working while studying. Therefore, I offer the Further Forces recruits a real understanding of the process of transition from the Forces to teaching in FE and the pressures that might bring. My approach to mentoring is to never treat anyone as a pessimist, but to listen and respond with openness.

It is very different being a subject-specialist mentor with Further Forces. You are independent of the trainee’s workplace and so you can be focused entirely on the support you give them, without having to give any feedback to the employer, tutor or manager.

What have you found is the main support needed?

There is a sea-change between military and civilian life, so it is really important to have a guide through the process. However, there is a military mind-set that you are a failure if you cannot do it on your own which can make people unwilling to ask for support. As a Further Forces mentor who has made that transition, I can act simply as a sounding board which is important when navigating a new world.

As a mentor, I am a non-judgemental guide, explaining how decisions are made in FE. Finding your way cannot be done just by instinct and intuition.

Why would you recommend service leavers to join Further Forces?

People from the Forces are really valuable in Further Education. Many of the students have moved to FE because they have been unsuccessful in school or need a different approach. They are young minds looking for a new way to engage with learning. Ex-Forces colleagues who train to teach offer these students someone different, technical experts with a clear line of sight to work who offer valuable real-world experience. Service Leavers can make a real difference in Further Education.

After 10–15 years of experience in the military, Service personnel will have gained experience of leading junior recruits who are 17+ years old; that means they already have an understanding of how to communicate with that age group. So, with the support of a subject-specialist mentor, they can easily build on these skills and become great teachers.


Further Forces is an Education & Training Foundation programme supported by the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Education and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. Its aim is to support anyone leaving the Military to bring their valuable experience, technical knowledge and skills into teaching in Further Education (FE). As part of the fully funded training, Service Leavers are supported by a subject-specialist mentor, in addition to a tutor and college manager. This mentor is independent of both the college and tutor, so their focus is solely on supporting the individual Service Leaver in their training and teaching.

To find out more, but with no commitment, contact Further Forces: info@furtherforces.org.uk.

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