NEST | Educational Research and Schooling

NEST (2021-2024)Novice Educator Support and Training – Mentoring Novice Teachers at Disadvantaged Schools

A Policy Experiment in Seven European Education Systems

The education sector is evolving rapidly and dramatically in response to technological advancements, social forces (e.g., immigration, income inequality), and political necessity (e.g., COVID-19 response, climate change). The adaptations required of this evolution are particularly acute for novice teachers, who are still developing their foundational skills in the profession. What is more, novice teachers working with children in disadvantaged communities have the added responsibility of addressing the needs of a larger number of students learning in less supportive or even adverse environments, with fewer resources at their disposal and less developed skills for self-directed learning. Despite the clear need for induction support for novice teachers, most, especially those in disadvantaged schools, structured induction programmes remain rare, and few novice teachers have access to high-quality mentorship (EACEA, Eurydice, 2013).

The combination of a challenging school environment and lack of experience calls for an adaptive mentoring system that effectively supports and prepares novice teachers on-the-job and equips them to address the needs of their students.

While access to adaptive mentorship remains rare for novice teachers in Europe, there is growing evidence of its potential (OECD, 2018; Kraft et al., 2018).  Already Ingersoll & Strong (2011) found evidence in most of the studies they examined that mentoring positively influences the commitment from and the retention of teachers, classroom teaching practices and student achievement. However, this potential is only realized when mentors receive adequate training and employ their skills adaptively and deliberatively. For instance, Richter et al. (2013) indicate that mentor quality, not frequency of interaction, determines the successful start of a teacher’s career.

The NEST project is an ERASMUS+ policy experiment which is funded by the European Commission. It facilitates the development and implementation of an adaptive mentor training as well as the provision of adaptive mentoring to novice teachers at disadvantaged schools. The impact of the mentor training and the adaptive mentoring will be evaluated across five participation countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, and Spain). In Spain as well as Belgium two educational systems are participating in the project. Thus, the project will examine the impact of the mentor training (intervention I) and adaptive mentoring for novice teachers (intervention II) in seven educational systems overall. The evaluation of NEST is conducted by the University of Duisburg-Essen.


The NEST model builds on the four-A-scheme which defines basic principles of the right to education: availability, accessibility, acceptability, and adaptability (Tomasêvski, 2001). Within the NEST project design, these categories will be applied to mentoring for novice teachers and yield an innovative model to compare national structures and practices in more depth and thus taking the European discourse on novice teacher mentoring and support to a higher level.

The NEST model of novice teacher mentoring and support focusses firstly on the availability of mentoring. This includes for instance the recruitment and qualification of mentors, professional development and working conditions of mentors.

Secondly, it considers accessibility of mentoring. The model examines whether novice teachers receive mentoring regularly and whether mentors are granted sufficient time to provide mentoring (mentors’ time per novice teacher and novice teachers per mentor).

As evidenced in research, availability and accessibility are not sufficient in yielding effective mentoring practice. Therefore, the model includes the acceptability of the curriculum of mentoring and the methods of mentoring. This means that the curriculum and methods must be relevant, culturally appropriate and of good quality.

Lastly, the model focuses on the adaptability of mentoring. In the case of the NEST project this focus is directed on the degree of adaptive mentoring for the specific professional development needs of teachers teaching at disadvantaged schools. Therefore, the qualification of new mentors in the NEST project will include support elements that are directed to this focus.


The policy measure will make mentoring available within some countries that currently have only little professional experience in this type of novice teacher support. For other countries, the project will increase the accessibility of mentoring, especially at disadvantaged schools. Through the tailored mentor training the adaptability of mentoring to disadvantaged school contexts will be increased. While providing adaptive mentoring, the project will analyse the acceptability of the new approach. Therefore, the following hypotheses will be tested.

  1. The first intervention group of trained mentors will show a higher ability to work with novice teachers at disadvantaged schools, than mentor teachers in the control group, who provide mentoring from time to time, without specific training.
  2. The second intervention group of novice teachers will assess their mentors’ compliance with general criteria for professional mentoring significantly higher than a comparison group of novice teachers, who assess their mentor teachers, who have not received a mentor training as an intervention.
  3. Novice Teachers at disadvantaged schools, who receive adaptive mentoring, will show significantly more positive results regarding several outcome indicators (such as the knowledge on the specific content transmitted via mentoring, higher skills and efficacy with regard to hard-to-reach learners, stress resilience and job satisfaction) compared to novice teachers who have not received such mentoring.

Research method and design

To this end the NEST experimental methodology will follow a quasi-experimental design with at least two measurement points (see figure 1) for experienced teachers (trained mentors as well as a control group of mentoring teachers) and novice teachers (intervention and control group), respectively in each of the participating educational systems. Experienced teachers will be followed over a period of two school years. As a higher fluctuation of novice teachers in their first years is expected, this group will be followed over one school year. Consequently, two successive cohorts of novice teachers will be followed: one cohort for the school year 2021/2022 and one cohort for the school year 2022/2023. Each cohort consists of one group intervention group (receiving adaptive mentoring) and one control group (receiving the prevalent mentoring).

Forschungsdesign Nest

Figure 1: Quasi-experimental Design NEST 

Instrument development

Data will be collected following established methodologies of international teacher surveys that have already been administered in the consortium countries (e.g. TALIS 2018) and will include the design and implementation of primary data collection instruments including mentor questionnaires and novice teacher questionnaires. By basing the questionnaires on these instruments, we can access data in comparison to an external representative group with unbiased standardized instruments. Other instruments for the evaluation, for instance of the training content, will be developed by the project team.


There will be two different groups of participants in the project: experienced teachers and novice teachers. The group of experienced teachers receiving adaptive mentor training as an intervention comprise the intervention group of mentors. The novice teachers who will be supported by those mentors and receive adaptive mentoring as an intervention comprise the intervention group of novice teachers. To test the hypotheses, it is necessary to implement a control group of experienced teachers who do not receive a special training (control group of mentoring teachers) and a group of novice teachers who are supported by experienced teachers without specialized training (control group of novice teachers). The sample size varies by country. Bulgaria will provide the largest sample of novice teachers within their educational system. The Ministries of Education in each country will assist the selection of appropriate control groups.

Project team

Prof. Dr. Hermann Josef Abs
Eva Anderson-Park, M.A.
Dr. Myrte van Veldhuizen

International project partners 

Countries          National Teach For All Organisations Educational authorities and further national project partners


Teach For Austria

Board of Education for Vienna


Teach For Belgium

Ministère de l’Education de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (FWB)

Brussels Education Centre (OCB), agency of the Flemish Community Commission (VGC),

Secrétariat Général de l'Enseignement Catholique (SEGEC)


Zaedno v chas

Ministry of Education and Science.

Teachers Trade Union, Labor Conferderation “Podkrepa”


Empieza por Educar

Consejería de Educación y Juventud

Departament d’Educació de la Generalitat de Catalunya


Teach For Romania

Ministry of Education and Research

While the national Teach For All organisations are responsible for the implementation of the intervention, the educational authorities and further national project partners will provide access to the educational systems and assist in the process of dissemination and exploitation of information and project results. Zaedno v chas is acting as coordinating partner for the NEST project.

Financial funding

​The project is co-funded as Policy experimentation by Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, application no 626151-EPP-1-2020-2-BG-EPPKA3-PI-POLICY


European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2013. Key Data on Teachers and School Leaders in Europe. 2013 Edition. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Ingersoll, R. and M. Strong (2011). The impact of induction and mentoring programs for beginning teachers: A critical review of the research, Review of Educational Research 81(2), 201-233,

Kraft, M. A., Blazar, D. & Hogan, D. (2018). The effect of teacher coaching on instruction and achievement: A meta-analysis of the causal evidence. Review of Education Research 88, 547-588.

Richter, D., Kunter, M., Lüdtke, O., Klusmann, U., Anders, Y., Baumert, J. (2013). How different mentoring approaches affect beginning teachers’ development in the first year of practice. In: Teaching and Teacher Education36, 166-177.

Tomasêvski, K, (2001). Human rights obligations: making education available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable. Right to Education Primers no.3.a