Senior educationalists on the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) have complained that nearly six months into the current school year, a substantial number of new entrants to the profession were still waiting to be assigned mentors from the new regional pool.
They warned that NQTs are at risk of missing out on vital start-of-career support due to delays in implementing a new system of regional mentors.
Council members expressed great concern about the potential impact of the delays in appointing mentors on teachers starting their careers.
One member, Sion Amlyn, a science teacher at Ysgol Eifionydd, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, said: “We are talking about the future of the profession here and we are the guardians of the profession, so we have to make a public statement.”
Helen O’Sullivan, headteacher of Tonypandy Community School, stated: “We may see an increased rate of young teachers dropping out as a result of lack of support.”
Previously individual schools received funding to make their own arrangements for mentoring NQTs, but this was scrapped in September in favour of a centralised pool of specialist regional mentors, who would provide support across a number of different schools.
The aim is to bring nationwide consistency to existing induction training and to support early career teachers who are pursuing the new Master’s in Educational Practice (MEP).
Although sufficient mentors have now been recruited to support those following the MEP, there are still some 200 new teachers without a regional mentor to provide support and guidance during their compulsory induction year.
Following concerns from members of the 21-person GTCW council, the body’s chair Angela Jardine, has written to education minister, Leighton Andrews, warning that there are simply not enough experienced teachers available to staff these regional teams
Ms Jardine said short and longer-term measures were needed to relieve pressure on the schools and provide enough mentors to cover all of the needs of new teachers.
She said the council fully supported the minister’s aim to provide consistent mentoring support across the whole country, but “the undue haste in implementing the changes has caused serious problems.”
A spokesman for the Welsh government said: “We are currently recruiting and matching mentors ready for their deployment in line with our induction guidance. Recruitment of external mentors for both the master’s and induction will continue on a rolling basis to ensure that there are sufficient external mentors.”