Mentoring across professions: What can education learn from other sectors?

Project Details


The case for teacher mentoring is supported by a wide range of perspectives on learning in general and by professional learning in particular, and international research evidence shows that mentoring is one of the most effective means of supporting teachers’ professional learning and development (PLD). However, it is clear from research that mentoring in both the schools and Further Education (FE) sectors in England is under-resourced and failing to achieve its potential, to the detriment of teachers’ PLD, wellbeing and retention and thus to that of the learning and wellbeing of the students taught in those schools and colleges.

Not only is there an opportunity to consider research conducted within the education sector, there are lessons to learn from well-documented research on mentoring in other professions. This project, funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, sought to identify what the education system can learn from international good mentoring practice in other sectors.

This research sought to establish what teacher mentoring stakeholders might learn from successful and effective practice in other sectors – in the UK and internationally. The research team thus set out to identify:

> effective employee mentoring and coaching practice in private and public sector organisations (excluding teacher mentoring schemes)
> the impact of those employee mentoring and coaching schemes identified
> the various factors contributing to the effectiveness and success of the selected mentoring and coaching schemes.

Key findings

"It is clear from the enactment and resourcing of mentoring in the education sector that education policy makers, senior leadership teams and practitioners have not only failed to learn from research conducted within the sector; they have also failed to heed lessons learned from research on mentoring practice in other professions and occupations in both the public and private sectors, on which there is a well-established literature." Professor Andy Hobson

The Mentoring across Professions (MaP) project report presents case studies of ten exemplary work-based mentoring schemes from six different countries – England, Hungary, Norway, Romania, Turkey and the USA. A cross-case analysis revealed the powerful impact that employee mentoring schemes can have, with the following benefits for mentees identified:

> enhanced skills, job performance and effectiveness in role
> enhanced communication skills in particular
> improved relationships with colleagues
> enhanced career progression
> enhanced networking opportunities and access to useful networks
> improved understanding of organisation
> learning new perspectives and overcoming inertia
> changed dispositions and new ways of thinking
> increased personal awareness
> increased confidence
> enhanced wellbeing
> increased resilience
> enhanced motivation.

The research identified a number of common ingredients of effective employee mentoring schemes. Amongst these, such schemes tend to be more effective and have a greater positive impact on mentees, mentors and organisations where, for example:

> the mentoring scheme is well-structured and overseen by a mentoring coordinator
there are rigorous mechanisms for mentor selection and matching mentors and mentees
> there is effective provision for initial mentor preparation/training and ongoing development
> there are training and development opportunities for mentees
> opportunities are created to ensure that mentors and mentees have regular and frequent contact, including face-to-face meetings
> mechanisms are in place to sustain confidentiality and other conditions for non-judgemental mentoring relationships
> there is (light touch) monitoring of mentoring relationships and evaluation of the scheme, to inform their ongoing development and improvement.

As previously found in the Mentoring and coaching for teachers in the Further Education and Skills Sector in England research, teacher mentoring schemes are frequently found wanting in these terms. In particular, Professor Hobson and his co-authors stress that mentoring must be ‘off-line’ (mentees must not be mentored by their line managers) and mentors should not be tasked with formally evaluating, assessing or appraising the work of their mentees, as is often the case in schools and colleges and rarely the case in effective mentoring schemes outside of the education sector.

In a paper presented on the research as part of a Keynote Symposium on Teacher Mentoring at the British Educational Research Association’s Annual Conference (13-15 September 2017), Professor Hobson urged that the then recently published National Standards for school-based initial teacher training (ITT) mentors (2016) was revised to reflect the evidence and recommendation that mentoring should be 'off-line' and non-judgemental.


Hobson, A.J., Castanheira, P., Doyle, K., Csigás, Z. & Clutterbuck, D. (2016) The Mentoring across Professions (MaP) Project: What can teacher mentoring learn from international good practice in employee mentoring and coaching? London: Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
Effective start/end date1/06/1531/12/15


  • Gatsby Charitable Foundation


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