The following FAQs highlight what mentors can expect from September 2021 for the role.
NQTs are now called ECTs – what and why is that?
The new term ECT (early career teacher) is in line with the name of the two-year programme and reflects the fact that teachers in the beginning of their career are not just newly qualified for one year and then become the same as all other teachers, but that establishing as a fully-fledged teacher takes time and continued professional development. It will take some time for this new language to become commonplace.
Why are the changes being made to the mentor’s role?
Changes to the statutory induction process from September 2021 will mean that all ECTs will be entitled to a two-year fully funded training and support programme. As part of the programme, dedicated mentors are expected to support ECTs through regular one to one mentoring sessions. The Early Career Framework (ECF) is the evidence base which underpins this new entitlement for the professional development of mentors.
How is the mentor role changing?
The ECF recognises how integral the role of the mentor is for the development of ECTs and emphasises the need for support and training for them. Schools will be expected to provide training for mentors via ECF providers or from elsewhere. In the second year of an ECT’s career, funding will be available for the mentor’s time to support the new teacher. Mentors will need to be familiar with the framework and offer structured developmental opportunities that reflects the needs of individual ECTs who will be entering the profession with differing sets of skills depending on their training.
Will the mentor also have responsibility for the ECTs induction year?
The mentor role should be separate to that of the induction tutor and focus on supporting the ECT through the two-year programme. ECTs will gain a far larger breadth and depth of learning from two colleagues. It would also be beneficial for the mentor and induction tutor to work together to have a collaborative approach in supporting the ECT.
What training will be available for NQT mentors?
There will be regular training for the mentor and alongside their ECT on the ECF content. Other areas such as skills associated with observation and providing high quality feedback through coaching for improvement and reflection will form part of the training for mentors. Mentors will have their own journey of professional development. Headteachers have a choice of three approaches for the delivery of the induction programme. These approaches are:
- Schools can work with one of the six providers accredited by the DfE who will design and deliver the programme to ECTs and their mentors. The provider-led programme will be fully funded by the DfE and include face-to-face and on-line training. There will be additional funding available to schools taking this route where each mentor will have access to an additional 36 hours of training over two years.
- Schools deliver their own training and support using ready-made DfE-accredited materials and resources for ECTs and mentors.
- Schools can design and deliver their own 2-year induction programme for early career teachers based on the early career framework.
Who are the DfE accredited providers?
The following six providers have been accredited by the DfE to deliver the training programme to mentors and NQTs:
- Ambition Institute
- Best Practice Network
- Capita with the lead partner University of Birmingham
- Education Development Trust
- Teach First
- UCL Institute of Education
How is the training funded?
The training is funded by the DfE. The funding will cover 20 hours of a mentor’s time in the second year, to work in collaboration with the ECT. If, however, a school chooses to take the provider-led approach, there is additional funding to allow mentors to train for 36 hours over the two year ECT induction period.
Do you need to complete the training if you are already in a mentoring role?
Existing mentors and newly appointed mentors will have the opportunity to enhance their practice through a fully funded professional development programme. Working in a busy school environment leaves little or no time to engage in building a professional relationship that focuses on the ECT and their needs. The funded training will allow mentors to plan their time to fully understand and apply the materials to support the training of each ECT. The two-year induction process is a statutory requirement during which ECTs are expected to receive dedicated support from a mentor.
What support can you expect from the school?
The mentor training will help you develop as a practitioner, support the practice of the ECT and the school’s overall achievement. It is therefore reasonable to expect the school to support you during completing and beyond completion of the training. Your manager should allocate the time and resources for you to be able to take part on the training and the time spent mentoring. This school has a responsibility to ensure that your workload is reasonable and have regard for your wellbeing.
What will you need to consider before applying to take part in the new NPQs?
There are some factors that you may want to clarify before applying for the NPQ including what time will be available to complete the qualification and what support will I have from the school in completing the qualification. It is worth negotiating these with your manager from the start to avoid unreasonable workload issues from occurring and for your visibility in the NPQ specialist area that you have chosen to be recognised. Find out what is included in a teachers’ directed school time to ensure that your working hours are reasonable.
What pay reward can I expect as a mentor?
The mentoring role has a significant responsibility for the development of NQTS and gives the role recognition in supporting teaching and learning. The pay award for all teachers is decided by the headteacher and Governing Body of the school. Advice from the NEU on pay progression and how to secure fair pay in your workplace can be found here.
- Where can I get more details about the ECF and mentors?
If you have a question or query about how the role of mentors will be affected due to the implementation of the ECF, speak to your workplace rep in the first instance. If you do not have access to a workplace rep you may want to consider taking on this role. The role is very rewarding and many of the skills you will develop are transferable to your professional life. Our reps are at the heart of the union: https://neu.org.uk/reps
The NEU has a range of professional development opportunities to support you throughout your career and leadership journey that are delivered at a local and national level. The national programme can be found here.
As a middle leader you may also be interested in reading the FAQs on Changes to the National Professional Qualification Frameworks affecting middle leaders working in schools.