Evaluation of Starting Out

Shona Macleod, Matt Walker, Ben Durbin, Jennifer Jeffes, Suzanne Straw

29 May 2012

Commencing in July 2009, the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) funded 'Starting Out' – a two-year mentoring pilot programme for science and mathematics teacher trainees and early career teachers delivered by the Learning and Skills Network in three regions (East of England, London and West Midlands). NFER conducted a mixed methods evaluation of Starting Out which explored the quality and effectiveness of the models of mentoring support being piloted, the impact on mentees’ personal, professional and career development and the value for money offered by the programme.

The evaluation found that the mentoring support made a difference to science and mathematics teacher trainees’ personal, professional and career development. The most consistent positive change for mentees was their view that the mentoring support had better equipped them for a career in teaching. Mentees at all stages of their early career in teaching were unanimous in their view that there is considerable future need for this form of mentoring.

Key Findings

  • Provide initial training for mentors supported by a mentoring specialist and bespoke mentoring training materials specifically tailored to the programme. This training must equip mentors to offer support in using any online aspects of the mentoring programme, where these are part of the support provided to mentees.
  • Direct, personal communications from a trusted source support successful recruitment of mentees
  • Consider independent support as key to the development of positive mentoring relationships. Mentors are valued as an alternative source of support with whom mentees can raise alternative queries or issues which they may be less able, or inclined, to discuss with their line manager or colleagues in their school.
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