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Developing & Retaining Mentors in Schools

Mar 18, 2024

UCL Developing & Retaining Mentors in Schools Report

The UCL Centre for Educational Leadership has published a third research report into series of investigations to study how to develop and retain talented mentors in schools.

The report is an in-depth piece of work of rich interest to those who support or coordinate mentoring, as well as policy makers.

Leaders Matter to Mentors

Their premise is that, “school leaders retain high quality teachers by helping to create productive work environments aimed at achieving ambitious, socially valued goals for all students” (p3) and that amongst the many issues of importance to school leadership, “few offer greater purchase on the long-term contribution of their schools to student success than ensuring the development and retention of their new teachers” (p6).

Therefore, understanding the conditions to retain experienced teacher mentors of new teachers is a crucial leadership issue. This presupposition is then further evidenced by recent studies and research.

The authors conducted a sample survey of more than 800 mentors which was, “heavily dominated by mentors strongly committed to the ECF programme and their job as both teacher and ECF mentor.” (p14)

Key Messages

Generate Teaching Hub has identified some key messages that will be of interest to school and trust leaders as they plan and manage mentoring of school staff:

  • The majority of mentors stated, “high levels of job satisfaction at school and in the profession.” (p15)
  • “The most direct influence on mentors’ sense of well-being at school (e.g. feelings of belonging) was their job satisfaction at school.” (p14)
  • The “expectations, care and support in a school makes a difference to teachers’ sense of well-being” and on factors such as stress, burnout and feelings of alienation were, “typically the result of conflicts with colleagues, unrealistic workloads, lack of control over one’s work and the like.” (p17)
  • The study of ‘paths of influence’ upon a teacher mentor reflected previous studies, “that mentors’ perceptions of their workload reflect the broad schools’ workload cultures, and that the ECF programme is not solely responsible for the lack of mentoring time in certain schools.” (p20)
  • The 4 domains of leadership Each had an impact of teacher mentor job satisfaction and wellbeing which influenced retention (p21):
    1. Setting directions had a large effect on all the 3 other domains as it set purpose and measures of high expectations.
    2. Developing people had, “a very strong influence on mentors’ perceptions of their Professional Growth Opportunities.”
    3. Redesigning the organisation provided, “a moderately strong influence on helping to build a Collaborative School Culture.” Creating key factors such as, “an atmosphere of caring and trust among staff, encouraging collaborative work” and, “participation in decisions about school improvement” by staff and parents.
    4. Improving the teaching and learning programme, “strongly influenced mentors’ perceptions of teacher workload in their school.”
UCL ECF Mentor Research 2024 Map

Take-aways for Leaders

The report summarised its learning by highlighting 5 points of reference for a leader to consider in order to improve job satisfaction and retention of teacher mentors (p23):

  1. Know each of your staff members well.
  2. Aim the school in meaningful directions.
  3. Structure the school to encourage engagement of all stakeholders.
  4. Shape the engagement of all stakeholders to foster the development of the school’s collective intelligence.
  5. Distribute leadership for pedagogical coaching.

Leaders are encouraged to access the full report and the series to investigate this staff retention issue further and inform their own practice in school.

Generate Teaching Hub’s team is always interested in discussing views on teacher recruitment and retention and would welcome contact from colleagues on the topic of mentoring at all stages in a teacher’s professional pathway. Contact our team on or contact 07897 280909.

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