Coaching the ECT – Going beyond mentoring in the Classroom

by | May 17, 2022 | Coaching, Curriculum, Leadership

Coaching the ECT – Going beyond mentoring

Coaching the ECT - Going beyond mentoring in the Classroom
The Role of the ECT Mentor is Pivotal

The role of Early Career Teacher (ECT) mentor is a hugely important one. Their influence on those training to be teachers and those new to the profession cannot be underestimated. If new teachers have the right support from the very beginning of their journey to becoming fully fledged teachers, they are more likely to learn to love teaching, learn a craft that will sustain and fulfil them and feel an enthusiasm that will be infectious for pupils in the classroom and for their colleagues and other stakeholders.

The numbers of would-be educators who start the process seems to be increasing which suggests that teaching does remain an attractive option for many. However, the statistics reveal 15% leave the profession after just 12 months and 25% within 3 years; with 4 in 10 teachers leaving within a decade it would seem something is going wrong.

The cost of this haemorrhage from the profession is devastating for all sorts of reasons. Pupils suffer, schools can’t recruit, funding is lost and the development of a world class workforce that can build new futures, inspire the next generation and create the curiosity and imagination that the nation and indeed the human race needs to tackle the many global issues that so far seem insurmountable will not be realised.

Defining the Skills of the Mentor

The Mentors role is pivotal. Their influence far-reaching. Their role and is to guarantee that the ECT has the benefit of their expertise where they provide the right coaching and support so that they can become exceptional and awesome classroom practitioners. The ECT Framework provides a set of standards that are closely aligned to the Teachers’ Standards and build on what has gone before in terms of initial teacher training (ITT).

For those in charge of CPD in a school and for the mentors who hold in their hands the aspirations and dreams of the ones new to the profession it is time to ask the question, ‘What are the qualities and skills ECT mentors need to have to shape a truly inspirational curriculum for their mentees? A second question then emerges, ‘What are the processes that mentors need to adopt that will encourage self-reflection, a shared belief in professional excellence and allow fledgling teachers to fly and not fail?’ Here is a checklist for the ECT Mentor and those who appoint them:-

ECT Mentors must have:-

  • A profound understanding of the quality of education as defined by the Teachers Standards, the ECT Framework and the OFSTED Handbook
  • A deep and rich repertoire of outstanding pedagogical practice that can be modelled and shared with those new to the profession
  • A deep expertise in relation to the curriculum, the school vision, sequential knowledge, profound skills and conceptual understanding
  • Empathy through active and deep listening that will support learning and continuous development of the ECT
  • The ability to see different perspectives and others’ points of view
  • The skills and questioning ability to challenge others to achieve more of their potential
  • The ability to always focus on the positive and know the strengths and positive traits that lead to success for self and others
  • The ability to maintain an open mind and non-judgemental approach to feedback
  • A readiness to let the mentee take the initiative. make mistakes and learn from them and build their own repertoire of exciting pedagogies
  • An ability to engender the trust of the mentee at all times

Shaping the role of the ECT Mentor

Partnership working strengthens the quality of pedagogy and learning

There is an imperative for all schools who take on the challenge of developing the skills of new teachers to ensure that the teachers they choose to be mentors are trained in the skills of mentoring and then coaching, have outstanding pedagogical skills and a clear and profound understanding of the school’s vision for exceptional curriculum implementation and impact.

The role is part of a triad where partnership working is essential, mentors need to know what has gone before in terms of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and dovetail the ECT curriculum accordingly, they must have a trusting relationship with their mentee and they must work closely with subject leaders and other middle and senior leaders who create the pathways within which the mentor and mentee can take towards the ECT achieving the successful outcomes that are necessary to become a good to outstanding teacher.

The mentor and the ECT’s understanding of curriculum vocabulary

Creating a culture that leads to unconscious and reflective competence

The ECT mentor’s understanding of the curriculum and how the school wants it to be delivered has to be at the centre of their role as mentor.

The vocabulary that surrounds what is expected of the school in terms of curriculum delivery is wide. Have a look at the table below, this is not an exhaustive list but it is long enough to demonstrate the imperative that the ECT understands the language and what it means in terms of planning and delivery of the curriculum.

Each phrase or word below could create a state of conscious incompetence for an ECT and leave them insecure and therefore struggling to learn.

Building on prior learning
Disciplinary and substantive knowledge
Conceptual understanding
Core skills
Defining end points
Formative assessment

Programmes of study
Curriculum intent, implementation & impact
Depth & Breadth
Quality of education
Age related standards
Parity for all learners
Curriculum mapping
Cognitive science

Inspiring the next generation of teachers

Inspire a new generation of teachers

The above list is quite revealing in how the language of the curriculum has become near to the top of the agenda for schools who are working towards having the evidence that they provide a high quality of education for all. The depth and breadth of understanding is certainly more far-reaching in its scope and is for all staff and not just for the ECT.

However, it is to creating the right start for those who are aspiring to be a part of the profession that we must provide the right support through mentoring, modelling and highly interactive professional conversations.

The mentor must have the profound and deep knowledge of all the above words and phrases and be a part of a much wider CPD strategy that ensures all staff are well-trained and highly proficient in how they create the pedagogy for learning, deepening knowledge and enhancing the life chances of those they teach. Inspiring a love of teaching is so rewarding for the ECT and the ECT mentor.

Why coaching will inspire the ECT and their coach/mentor

Create a culture of self-awareness and inspirational learning

There is a difference between mentoring and coaching and for those who learn how to coach their skills in supporting the ECT will be enhanced in such a way that they will never return to the directive and judgemental ways of the instructor or mentor.

Coaching is a powerful way of creating opportunities for individuals to find their own solutions, to be self-aware and know their strengths and gaps in learning. It is through the powerful skills a coach learns that the ECT will find the confidence to innovate, explore and be ready to experiment and continually grow in their ability to create awe and wonder in their classrooms.

Skilful and active listening skills, powerful and incisive questioning, the ability to feedback the most negative sentiments with a positivity that won’t dent motivation and a willingness to learn are all at the heart of learning how to coach. Developing these the coaching skills will help to make sure that no one will want to leave the profession that educates every other profession and help us build a world class education system.

Learning Cultures’ live webinar Coaching the Early Career Teacher – Going beyond mentoring is an innovative and exceptional training opportunity for all those who have the privilege to support the next generation of outstanding teachers.

Book now and be ready for your new cohort of would be teachers in September or contact Glynis by email, or telephone 01746 765076 /
07974 754241.

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