New teachers in mentoring scheme showing reduced stress levels

Principals in participating schools report staff improvement in teaching and learning

An ESRI report published on Wednesday examines the performance of the Droichead programme in which experienced teaching staff play a key role in supporting and assessing new teachers. Photograph: The Irish Times

An ESRI report published on Wednesday examines the performance of the Droichead programme in which experienced teaching staff play a key role in supporting and assessing new teachers. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

New teachers who have taken part in a new mentoring programme show greater levels of improvement and lower levels of stress than other newly-qualified teachers, research shows.

An ESRI report published on Wednesday examines the performance of the Droichead programme in which experienced teaching staff play a key role in supporting and assessing new teachers.

About 750 teachers have participated in the pilot project since it was introduced on a voluntary basis in 2013.

Overall, the research – commissioned by the Teaching Council, the regulatory body for the profession – found that new teachers were positive about the support they received.

Principals in participating schools reported greater levels of improvement in teaching and learning among their staff. These new teachers also reported lower levels of stress.

It found principals and mentors were very satisfied with the scheme which they felt provided structural support.

Significant numbers of principals felt it contributed to a more collaborative culture and greater openness within the school as a whole.

Traditional model

The Droichead programme is due to become the standard model for inducting new teachers by 2018.

It was introduced as a way of providing greater levels of support to teachers compared to the traditional model of probation and inspection.

Under the new system, newly qualified teachers are typically observed by more senior staff on up to four occasions, or more frequently in primary schools.

New teachers are also required to attend workshop programmes with other newly-qualified staff.

While the ESRI findings were positive, it did not that school staff reported challenges such as getting time for meetings and observing new teachers.

Feedback and support meetings were regularly scheduled outside school hours.

Other challenges centred on the additional workload, especially for mentors, and the difficulty for new teachers securing enough teaching hours to complete the process.

Overall, Tomás Ó Ruairc, director of the Teaching Council, said the findings demonstrated how the profession could be trusted to enhance, the quality of learning for themselves and their students.

“It is grounded in the belief that the quality of new teachers’ learning is enhanced when they have space and time to engage with their more experienced colleagues. In this way, the quality of students’ learning stands to benefit,” he said.

He confirmed that the new approach will be the recognised route to induction for new teachers in large schools from September 2017, and for all new teachers from September 2018.

This is subject to the required resources and supporting actions being in place.

Prof Emer Smyth of the ESRI said the report’s findings demonstrated the value of these supports in accelerating the professional development of new teachers.

They also provided a space for all members of the teaching profession to have conversations about professional practice.

Prof Paul Conway from the University of Limerick said the mentoring model reflected a trend internationally where induction programmes for newly-qualified teachers are becoming more structured and integrated.