Partnerships in action: establishing a model of collaborative support to student and mentor teachers through a university-school partnership

Patti Silbert, Clare Verbeek
South African universities have a crucial role to play in helping reduce inequalities in schooling by preparing teachers for working across diverse school contexts. This article examines a pre-service teacher collaborative support programme generated through a two-year action research process. The programme was designed to support student teachers and their school-based mentors during Teaching Practice through an existing university-school partnership. Using a qualitative analysis of journal
more » ... lysis of journal entries and separate focus group discussions with student and mentor teachers we describe students' and mentors' responses to the collaborative support programme. The findings of the study suggest that a collaborative support strategy pitched at both the university and school is critical to support student teachers during their pre-service teaching, especially in socially and educationally challenging contexts. Joint responsibility for initial teacher development requires a re-conceptualisation of the role of the mentor teacher, and a shift towards the distribution of mentoring functions from a few designated mentor teachers to include a wider range of teachers at the school.