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Beginning teachers’ perceptions of mentors and access to communities of practice

Shields, Samantha; Murray, Megan


Samantha Shields

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Mrs Megan Murray
Lecturer in Education and Programme Director, Undergraduate Primary Teaching


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore beginning teachers’ perceptions of the role of the mentor in the early stages of developing a professional identity. The beginning teachers in our study are defined as having been awarded qualified teacher status at the end of an initial teacher education programme or having completed their first term as a new teacher with responsibility for a class of pupils. Design/methodology/approach – The research design was a qualitative, inductive study. The concepts of communities of practice, legitimate peripheral participation and power dynamics within a community underpinned this study. The data set was collected over a period of 18 months, through six focus groups and 40 questionnaires with beginning teachers across 34 schools altogether. The data set was analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Findings – The findings indicated that the ways in which mentors use their power to recognise (or not) the legitimacy of beginning teachers as being part of the school community influences the development of beginning teachers’ professional identities. The thematic analysis of the data indicated the different types of support that mentors may provide: ‘belonging’, ‘emotional’, ‘pedagogical’ and ‘space’. Research limitations/implications – Further research into how mentors perceive their role in supporting new entrants into the profession is needed. Originality/value – These findings are pertinent in England, as the increase in school-based initial teacher training provision will intensify the role of school mentors. These findings will be of value to other countries who are moving towards an increase in school-based teacher training.


Shields, S., & Murray, M. (2017). Beginning teachers’ perceptions of mentors and access to communities of practice. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, 6(4), 317-331.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 20, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 11, 2017
Publication Date Dec 4, 2017
Deposit Date Aug 30, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 12, 2019
Journal International journal of mentoring and coaching in education
Print ISSN 2046-6854
Electronic ISSN 2046-6862
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 4
Pages 317-331
Keywords Beginning teachers; Mentors; Support; Communities of practice; Power; Mentoring standards
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in International journal of mentoring and coaching in education, 2017. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.


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