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A study on the changing role of the mentor in school-led initial teacher education

Hindle, Georgia Louise (2020) A study on the changing role of the mentor in school-led initial teacher education. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This research investigates the school-based mentor’s (SBM) role following the shift towards practical, school-led initial teacher education (ITE). It contributes to an understanding of how SBMs are positioned as facilitators of adult learning within a diversified landscape of ITE. This study identifies how mentoring practices are translated within a newly diversified school-led system, considers how teacher professionalism is affected and the status of teaching in the professional sphere as schools have been afforded greater autonomy. Using mentoring as a practice-based model of professional learning, this study draws upon three key theoretical concepts to examine mentor practice - legitimate peripheral participation, professional practice knowledge and ‘third space’ (Lave and Wenger 1991, Kemmis et al. 2014a, Heikkinen et al. 2018a, Bhabha 1994.) School-university ITE partnerships are explored with consideration given to communication, inclusivity, and collaborative work. This study uses a qualitative, semi-ethnographic research design to focus on the SBM’s role and responsibilities as outlined in programme policy, alongside participant perspectives. Using an interpretivist approach, this research explores school and ITE programme culture, reflects participant knowledge and builds on observations over the course of an academic year. It considers SBM authority within this context and their influence over programme design, content, and implementation. This study shows that mentor practice and school-led ITE stakeholder relationships can vary. Opportunities for collaboration within school-university partnerships are subject to the participant’s role and status. The development of school-led ITE has created uncertainty surrounding the re-making of teacher professionalism(s). This study considers what forms of professionalism are produced within this setting and how this affects mentoring practice and novice teacher development. Despite the ITE policy trajectory towards schools-led ITE in England, this study found that not all school-based teacher educators experience the contextual conditions that would equip them well to contribute and lead ITE at school level.

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