Mentoring and Coaching in Education Practitioners' Professional Learning

Submitting Institution

Liverpool John Moores University

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education

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Summary of the impact

During the past twenty years, mentoring and coaching has increasingly been employed as a key strategy in the initial training and continuing professional development of teachers in England and other European countries with the aim of improving teaching and learning. This research has resulted in regional and international impact on education practitioners' continuing professional development and practice. These include:

(1) Primary and secondary teachers from the Merseyside region, who participated in the LJMU Mentoring and Coaching programme to enhance the effectiveness of their professional practice as individuals and to facilitate professional learning and development within their schools.

(2) Education practitioners from teaching, nursing and social work across Europe, who participated in the TISSNTE Intensive Course and attended dissemination events and workshops in England (2012), Finland (2010), Hungary (2008, 2011) and Norway (2009).

Underpinning research

The EU funded (£200k) TISSNTE (Teacher Induction: Supporting the Supporters of Novice Teachers) project (February 2006-August 2009)) co-ordinated by Dr Joan Stephenson (Research Fellow, LJMU from September 2006-December 2009) focused on the needs of those supporting novice teachers in their professional learning during the early years of their career. It explored the mentoring dimension in education practitioners' professional learning and generated insight and understanding in relation to the complexity of the mentoring role, how it is perceived and enacted in the practice setting and the potential tensions arising. The project contained a research component (the TISSNTE needs analysis), which was led by Professor Marion Jones with the aim of identifying key themes around which common support strategies for teacher learning could be developed. It involved a survey (semi-structured questionnaire and interview) completed by 283 practising teachers associated with 21 initial teacher education providers in the12 participating European countries. The research outcomes consisted of the identification of support strategies, skills and resources, which mentors considered essential in providing effective support to novice teachers, and informed the development and delivery of an Intensive Course (Budapest 12-17 October 2008)) attended by 30 teachers from 12 European memBer states (Course Reference Number UK-2008-769-001 []. Furthermore, it produced evidence of the reciprocal benefits of mentoring and its potential to promote knowledge generation amongst education practitioners.

A second, two-phase research project was concerned with the Impact of ITE Partnerships on Schools. It was conducted collaboratively between the universities of Liverpool John Moores (Jones), Manchester (McNamara), Manchester Met (Craig) and the OU (Hurd). Phase 1 (Oct 05-May 06) consisted of a questionnaire survey, involving 1073 mentors from primary and secondary schools in partnership with 5 ITE HEI providers in the Northwest Government Office Region of England. One of the key findings was that over three quarters of teachers believed that working with trainee and newly qualified teachers afforded them opportunities for their own professional learning and development. Following on from this survey, the Teacher Development Agency (TDA) commissioned and funded a small-scale, qualitative study. Phase 2 (Jan 08-Dec 08; Funding: TDA £13k) was led by Jones in collaboration with McNamara (Manchester) and Campbell (Leeds Met), with the aim of investigating the learning benefits accrued by the mentors in the form of ten case studies for the TDA's resources ank no longer a aila le online follo ing a olition of TDA The findings of this research indicated that mentoring can: (a) facilitate high quality, specific and contextual workplace learning that is intergenerational; (b) promote leadership of learning by the practitioners themselves; (c) lead to school wide innovations and dissemination of practice resulting in positive effects on pupil behaviour and achievement.

The knowledge accrued from these projects was disseminated to teacher education practitioners at Seminar 5 of the ESRC funded (£18k) Seminar Series on Workplace Learning in Teacher Education (WLiTE) in June 2011, managed by Prof Jones and Dr Stanley (LJMU) in collaboration with Profs McNamara (P-I, Manchester University) and Murray (C-I, UEL).

References to the research

Key Outputs:

Jones, M, Stanley, G, Mc amara, O & Murray, J(2011) Facilitating teacher educators' professional learning through a regional research capacity building network, Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), pp. 263-275 doi: 10.1080/1359866X.2011.588313


Jones, M(2009) Induction mentors' needs — a needs analysis approach: the English perspective and a comparison of findings from twelve European countries, Research in Comparative and International Education, 4 (1), pp. 4-21 doi: 10.2304/rcie.2009.4.1.4


Murray, J, Jones, M, McNamara, O & Stanley, G (2009) Capacity = Expertise x Motivation + Opportunities: factors in capacity building in teacher education in England, Journal of Education for Teaching, 35 (4), pp. 391-408 doi: 10.1080/02607470903220455


Hurd, S, Jones, M, McNamara, O & Craig, B (2007) Initial Teacher Education as a driver for professional learning and school improvement in the primary phase, Curriculum Journal, 18(3), pp. 307-326 doi: 10.1080/09585170701589942 [12 citations]



The Everton in the Community pan-disability coaching programme: A study of an intervention in special and mainstream schools [June 2011-December 2012]

Funding: COMINO foundation. Funding: Comino Foundation £24k; Jones (P-I) (LJMU) with Stanley (LJMU), Blundell (LJMU), May (LJMU), C Walker (LJMU) & S Walker (LJMU)

Teacher Education Research Network (TERN): Building Research Capacity in the Northwest Region of England, [Sept 08-Aug 09] Funding: ESRC £110k (£61k allocated to LJMU), Jones (Co-I) (LJMU) and Regional Co-ordinator with Murray (P-I) (University of East London) and McNamara (Co-I) (University of Manchester) []

The impact of ITE partnerships on teachers' professional learning and development:- a case study of examples of good practice [Jan 08-Dec 08] Funding: TDA £13k; Jones (P-I) (LJMU) with McNamara (Co-I) (University of Manchester) and Campbell (Co-I) (Leeds Metropolitan University)

Teacher Induction: Supporting the Supporters of Novice Teachers (TISSNTE) project European Comenius 2.1 Project [Feb 06-Aug 09] (Ref. No. 128825-CP-1-2006-1-UK-COMENIUS-C21) Funding: EU £200k; Stephenson (Project co-ordinator) with Jones (LJMU) who led the needs analysis research component, which was concerned with the mapping of induction mentors' needs across 12 countries []

Details of the impact

Our research in the context of teachers' professional learning has ena led teachers to de elop a critical understanding of their role as mentors and to enact this role effectively in the practice setting. The development of the TISSNTE Needs Analysis tool was achieved through active engagement with over 100 practitioners across the 12 European countries involved in the TISSNTE project. Teachers with responsibility for CPD and Local Authority staff took part in the piloting and evaluation of the survey questionnaire and interview schedule. The outcomes of the TISSNTE needs analysis exercise informed the development and delivery of a one week Intensive Course on Mentoring ( held in Budapest (12-17 October 2008). It was aimed at practising teachers supporting novice teachers in their professional development in the early stages of their career. The event was attended by 30 teachers from 13 European member states, who had received financial support from their respective regional National Bureaus. As evidenced in participant feedback, the course contributed to teachers' and teacher educators' professional learning by enhancing sensitivity to no ice teachers' needs, facilitating a critical understanding of the complexity of the mentoring role and developing skills and strategies employed in the effective support of novice teachers. These include: classroom observation, monitoring of progress, evaluation and assessment of competence and providing constructive feedback. A further benefit of the TISSNTE research was that the materials and resources produced for the Intensive Course are used by the University of Lisboa (Portugal) to assist teachers in supporting novice teachers' professional learning in schools.

On the basis of the EU and TDA funded research Jones received a number of invitations to deliver key note lectures (Finland 2010; England 2013) and run seminars/workshops (Norway, 2008; Hungary 2012) aimed at education practitioners from education, health and social work. The participants of these dissemination and professional development events reported benefits in terms of an increased awareness of the complexity of the mentoring role, the wide range of strategies and skills that effective mentoring requires and the reciprocal benefits accrued for themselves as individual practitioners as well as on a departmental and institutional level. For example, a teacher educator, who attended the ESRC HEI KT Seminar on Hybridity, Creativity and `New Professionalism' University of Chester, June 2012 ( requested permission (email sent on 02.09.2012) to use the resources developed by Jones in 4 training workshops attended by 120 novice teachers.

An invitation was received from the CPDUpdate Editor to report the key findings of the TDA funded research on the Impact of ITE Partnerships on Schools. CPDUpdate is a widely circulated magazine amongst education professionals in schools. One of its aims is to present research findings in a digestible, easily accessible form to practitioners ( (See Jones, Campbell, McNamara & Stanley, Developing professional learning communities — the hidden curriculum of ITE mentoring, May 2009, Issue 116, pp. 6-9).

Regionally, the research has informed the mentor training and development programmes attended by education professionals, such as the modules available within the Advanced Educational Practice (AEP) programme and the free standing units of the Pick & Mix programme. Thus the research has influenced the professional practice of over 100 individual classroom practitioners, senior managers and teaching assistants in primary and secondary schools and shaped the development of departmental and whole school initiatives. Examples include:

  • Enhanced mentoring coaching support for ne ly qualified teachers at Merchant Taylors' Boys' School (Crosby);
  • Following completion of the Mentoring and Coaching module in 2011, a teacher from Bebington High School (Wirral) was promoted to his school's leadership team and set up a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) forum with a long-term objective to develop a multiple mentor network with the aim of improving the quality of teaching and the school's Ofsted nspection result
  • Implementation of active listening skills as part of an effective mentoring strategy employed in supporting adolescents at Notre Dame Catholic College (Liverpool).

Formal participant evaluations indicate the extent to which participants have benefited from these programmes:

  • All 3 participants from Clare Mount Specialist Sports College attending the `Mentoring skills for Teaching Assistants' training session in Fe ruary and June 2013 stated that it had had a `significant' `good' impact on their understanding of the mentoring concept and its application in the practice context.
  • 97% (28/29)of the teachers attending the `Outstanding Mentoring' session in Fe ruary 2013 stated that it had deepened and clarified their understanding of hat constituted `outstanding mentoring' as defined y Ofsted.
  • 97% (31/32) of the participants completing the A P Mentoring and oaching modules rated the professional relevance of the course as either `good' (3), `Very good' (14) or `excellent' (14) and reported `significant'/`Very significant' impact in relation to their own professional de elopment, teaching skills, pupils' learning outcomes and practice ithin their institution They reported benefits in relation to their personal/professional development and their practice within the school as well as learner development. The course had enabled them to extend their range of mentoring and coaching techniques, for example, the use of `clean language' in feedback, hich resulted in improved student responses in class and getting students to talk more and generally improved relationships between teaching staff and students. The coaching techniques acquired by school staff attending the LJMU programme led to the introduction of peer mentoring and staff focus groups for collaborative planning and development of learner support in the school's professional development programme.
  • Feedback from the 16 teachers who completed the LJMU Mentoring and Coaching module delivered at Notre Dame High School, Liverpool, in 2011 as part of the school's continuing professional development programme indicates benefits accrued in relation to: informing professional practice (12/16). As particular benefits were highlighted: stronger relationships with peers and pupils (6/16), mentoring techniques used with pupils (8/16) and staff (6/16) and improved communication skills (9/16). This is what the participants said:

"I am able to use some of the mentoring techniques from the course with pupils in the classroom, especially around listening and questioning "

"I have a deeper understanding of the mentoring process My new knowledge now allows me to understand pupils better and access their needs at a higher level "

"There has been an impact on our pupils from the staff who have engaged in this course Some pupils have become more cooperative and open with feelings and emotions."

"I now use learning communities more extensively within my role to focus staff and encourage professional dialogue."

Sources to corroborate the impact

1 ITE Subject Mentor for Information Technology (Alsop High School) can confirm the influence of the LJMU mentoring programme on his professional practice in terms of developing innovative mentoring practices and techniques, which benefit trainee teachers in their professional workplace learning.

2 Learning Mentor (Notre Dame Catholic College) can confirm the beneficial impact of the LJMU mentoring programme on her professional practice enabling her to provide effective one-to-one support to improve learning outcomes and students' personal development.

3 Teacher of ICT and Business Studies (University of Chester Academy), who as a trainee teacher spent 5 months on school-based practice at Alsop High School, can confirm the excellent mentoring support he received: "[His] mentoring enabled me to successfully become a confident teacher. I now endeavour to soon become a mentor."

4 Teacher/ITE mentor and Staff De elopment Coordinator Merchant Taylors' Boys' School) can confirm the beneficial impact of the LJMU mentor/coaching programme on ITE mentors' professional practice, support provided to 24 newly qualified teachers and staff in career progression and the development of a learning community.

5 CPD Coordinator (Bebington High School) can confirm the beneficial influence of LJMU's mentor/coaching programme on the quality of support provided to trainee and newly qualified teachers in their professional learning and staff undertaking professional development.

6 The EU Impact of Comenius Centralised Actions Final Report (p.37) [ISBN 978-92-79-27805-1 doi:10.2766/40756] acknowledges the impact of the TISSNTE project.

7 Teacher Educator at the University of Lisboa (Portugal) can confirm use of TISSNTE resources in the preparation of teachers to support novice teachers' workplace learning (Email sent on 08.07.2013)


  • TISSNTE website []; Intensive Course, Budapest, 12-17 October, 2008 []; `Suitcase of Support', including a irtual library of support material for those mentoring novice teachers and a user manual (book and CD-rom) in 10 European languages
  • LJMU Advanced Educational Practice Mentoring in Education Module Handbook
  • Stephenson, J. (2009) A Learning Framework for Novice Teachers and Mentors — user manual for staff development course. This CD-Rom provides guidance for the use of a range of activities and resources which can form the basis of a staff development course for teachers and those supporting novice teachers and is freely available on the TISSNTE website subject to registration.
  • Jones, M. (2009) Interview on research project on mentors' professional learning, DVD The Impact of Trainee Teachers on School Achievement: how primary schools use trainee teachers to improve pupils' achievements, PFM Media, CD-Rom the production of which was funded by the Teacher Development Agency was distributed to over 1,000 schools.