A Case for mentor challenge?: The problem of learning to teach post-16

Butcher, John (2002). A Case for mentor challenge?: The problem of learning to teach post-16. Mentoring and Tutoring, 10(3) pp. 197–220.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1361126022000037042


This article investigates a tension in mentoring in secondary Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in England and Wales. Neither the ITT Standards nor the literature clarify which mentor strategies can be effective in the particular domain of the post-16 classroom. A case study was conducted on a sample of distance learning Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students and their mentors as the former learned to teach post-16. Five research instruments were developed and used iteratively to generate qualitative data. This revealed that ITT mentoring is inconsistent in relation to post-16 teaching. While some mentor support was given, opportunities presented for challenge were not taken up. The results illuminate the need for more effective models of post-16 mentoring in ITT, including the use of challenge alongside support. The conclusions have implications for mentors in secondary ITT, and will be a source of help for student teachers.

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