Transferring and scaling innovation related to digital technologies in school education is an ongoing policy challenge across Europe. At individual teacher level, peer-to-peer networking and mentoring – an experienced teacher guiding and supporting a less experienced one – are effective mechanisms for career-long professional learning. However, at whole-school level, such approaches are less widespread despite the evidence for their potential.
School-to-school mentoring entails holistic, active collaboration between two or more establishments for specific purposes, such as professional development, to overcome isolation or overall organisational improvement. Such mentoring often takes place through school networks but there can be large differences in outcomes, depending on factors such as whether participation is voluntary or compulsory, instigated externally or internally, or recognised and supported by education authorities. It is therefore important to understand better how ‘top-down' and ‘bottom-up' approaches work and to explore different incentives and rewards that can motivate schools to be become engaged in whole-school peer learning.
Involving ministries of education in six countries (Belgium-Flanders, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Portugal), MenSI will create a network of 24 Mentor Schools working with some one hundred Mentee Schools. By the end of the project, the network will open up to other schools interested in applying school mentoring approaches to develop innovative pedagogical practice involving digital technologies in teaching and learning.