01 SES 07 A, Sustainable Ecosystems of Mentoring for Newly Qualified Teachers
Since 2008 (legislation nr. 87/2008), teacher education in Iceland is a five-year program on master’s level for pre-school teachers, compulsory schoolteachers and upper secondary teachers. The average age of the teaching profession in Iceland is getting higher and there is significant drop-out among NQTs (OECD, 2014). Since 2008, fewer teachers have graduated and admissions to teacher education has decreased by 40%. To meet the demands of recruitment, 270 new teachers are needed every year, but on average only 90 teachers graduate (Ministry of Education Science and Culture, 2019). Teacher drop-out, teacher shortage and occupational stress has highlighted the importance of ideas that aim at induction plans and mentoring for NQTs (Bjarnadóttir, 2005; Steingrímsdóttir & Engilbertsson, 2018). In Iceland, no national policy concerning induction or mentoring of NQTs has existed, what is in contrast with many other European countries (European Commission, 2010). However, during the last few years, induction and mentoring has become more prominent as one of the factors that prevent beginning teachers from failing and leaving the profession. The teachers’ unions and universities have advocated for support of new teachers and developing mentoring as a sustainable part of schoolwork (Bjarnadóttir, 2015; Steingrímsdóttir, 2010; Svanbjörnsdóttir et.al., 2020). In 2018, the Minister of Education appointed a group of experts from Universities, the teachers’ union and municipalities, to increase the recruitment of teachers and counteract the drop-out in teacher education. Of the eight proposals the group made, three included formal mentoring and induction for new teachers. In 2019, the ministry of education launched an initiative that includes formal mentoring for new teachers and more emphasis on mentoring education for experienced teachers to support and mentor student teachers and NQTs. The ministry will finance mentor education for experienced teachers for five years. Also, NQTs will receive formal and systematic mentoring during their first three years in the profession (Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, 2019). This is an imperative acknowledgment of the importance of mentoring and support of NQTs. Consequently, the Teacher union in Iceland made an agreement with the municipalities about formal support for NQTs. The ministry´s initiative of boosting induction and mentoring, the new law and collaboration among stakeholders indicates that Iceland now has a niche of mentoring. The implications after the first year will be reflected upon in the presentation, as well as questions concerning the sustainability and ecosystem of mentoring along with the Nordic-Baltic network for mentoring.
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