Suzanne Straw, Matthew Walker and Peter Binfield
06 November 2020
Mentoring for Early Career Chemistry Teachers (MECCT) was a one year mentoring intervention developed by the Royal Society of Chemistry. It involved the pairing of ECTs teaching at Key Stages 3 and 4 with a subject-specialist mentor. Mentors and mentees were advised to meet for a total of six times, for up to an hour, however, the frequency and format of delivery were flexible. The aim was to increase ECTs’ confidence and chemistry specific pedagogical knowledge, support ECTs to better manage workload and stress, and ultimately retain them in teaching,
The pilot evaluation found that the programme was feasible, with most ECTs reporting positive experiences. However, the flexibility in the delivery of the mentoring sessions resulted in many mentor and mentee pairings meeting less than six times in a year, with many sessions being delivered remotely rather than face-to-face.
Participating ECTs generally felt more supported, reporting that their confidence, knowledge and pedagogical skills had increased. However, there was limited evidence to suggest the programme had improved ECTs’ ability to manage their workload or influenced their intentions to stay in teaching.
The pilot evaluation suggested that some aspects of MECCT should be strengthened before it was ready for trial. This included: more effective matching of mentors and mentees; ensuring mentors’ expertise met mentees’ needs; and further engagement of schools to allow mentors to gain a deeper understanding of schools’ cultures. More regular monitoring of the relationships between mentors and mentees, to both understand the nature of relationships and whether regular meetings were taking place, was also recommended to improve implementation and resulting impacts.