Teachers as Mentors: A Practical Guide

By Barbara Field; Terry Field | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Towards Empowerment: An Approach to School-Based Mentoring

David Reid


The Manchester Context

The importance of context in educational change is paramount. Curriculum development, pedagogical reform, philosophical stance and continual professional development are just a few examples of those issues which are susceptible to the contextual circumstances within which an educational establishment, be it school or university, has to work on a day-to-day basis. Context has a disproportionate influence on the effectiveness of reform. Even schools within a few hundred yards from each other can legitimately hold radically different views on many issues, views which will be reflected in the structures and the processes which they will use to fulfil their perceived roles.

The University of Manchester has been training teachers for over a century. It works with schools over the 750 square miles of the conurbation of Greater Manchester, many of whose staff received their initial training or who have obtained higher diplomas and degrees at the University. The secondary Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) course is of medium size, training some 180 students annually. Due to historical accident it is a course which is strong in the 'shortage subjects', all of which attract government bursaries to encourage students into the teaching profession (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Technology, French, German and Spanish). English and Economics are also represented as main subjects. However, the course is weak in the traditional humanities subjects such as Geography, History, Religious Education and Drama, which are offered only at subsidiary level. Up to half of our postgraduate entry comes directly from first degree courses, but a substantial proportion typically has experience, for example, in industry or the professions, from working abroad, as parents, or as research students. Thus many students bring to the course a wealth of experience gleaned from outside the education profession. This not

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