What is a mentor?

A mentor supports trainee teachers or early career teachers (ECTs) or oversees other mentors.

Mentors need the appropriate prior experience and typically undertake training tailored to their mentor role. They can undertake training in parallel to carrying out their role.

Initial teacher training (ITT)

ITT providers are responsible for:

  • ensuring that a trainee teacher undertaking an ITT course
  • has mentor support as part of their school placements

These requirements are set out in the ITT criteria (PDF, 48 pages), alongside other details on what constitutes a placement and minimum time allocations.

There are two types of ITT mentor:

  • lead mentors
  • general mentors

Lead mentors

ITT providers assign lead mentors and may be employed by the accredited provider, their lead partner or a partner school.

An individual or a leadership team can carry out the lead mentor role.

Lead mentors design and deliver training for general mentors, oversee and quality assure general mentors, and monitor trainees’ progress.

Lead mentors must complete up to 30 hours of initial training.

General mentors

General mentors are experienced teachers with a formal responsibility to support a trainee teacher undertaking a placement at their school.

They spend at least 1.5 hours with their trainee each week and provide support, input, and feedback in line with the ITT curriculum (specific to the trainee’s ITT provider).

General mentors must complete up to 20 hours of initial training with the accredited ITT provider to help them understand:

  • what’s involved in the mentor role and the skills they need
  • the ITT core content framework and its underpinning evidence
  • the ITT curriculum, which the trainee will follow.

Early Career Framework (ECF)

Where a school employs a teacher serving statutory induction, the school must ensure the ECT has a mentor supporting them for the duration of the induction. The induction period is usually two years but can be shortened to as little as one term in exceptional circumstances.

Further details are available in the Guidance for mentors: how to support ECF-based training.

ECF mentors

ECF mentors are experienced teachers with a formal responsibility to support an ECT employed at their school.

ECF mentors are responsible for:

  • working with their school to make sure the ECT receives a high-quality induction
  • meeting regularly with the ECT to provide support and feedback
  • providing or arranging mentoring and coaching around specific phases and subject areas
  • taking prompt, appropriate action if the ECT is having difficulties.

If the ECF mentor’s school chooses to work with a training provider, they will receive training on supporting ECTs.