About NEST

The Problem

Novice teachers are often under-prepared for the complex challenges of teaching in disadvantaged schools, and school-based support for teachers is either insufficient or non-existent

A high share of novice teachers work in challenging school environments, such as schools with a higher number of migrant students and/or students from low income homes (OECD, 2018). Disadvantaged schools require highly effective teachers, but are often least likely to have them due to difficulties in recruiting and lack of support and mentorship. 

In comparison to peers based in other schools, novice teachers who work in disadvantaged schools are more likely to either change schools, or leave the profession entirely. They 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. 

Evidence shows that mentorship is critical for supporting novice teachers in disadvantaged schools, yet structured induction programmes remain rare and few novice teachers have access to high-quality mentorship. The NEST consortium believes that effective mentoring of novice teachers could save time and costs, increasing effectiveness, job satisfaction, retention and attractiveness of the profession.

The Purpose

The NEST project will design and pilot a model to support novice teachers in disadvantaged schools and evaluate its impact

NEST will design, pilot and demonstrate that its underpinning adaptive mentoring model is a relevant and effective solution to the need to increase effectiveness, motivation and ultimate retention of novice teachers working at disadvantaged schools. 

The outcomes of this project should provide transnational learnings and offer a roadmap for potential methodologies for improving the support of novice teachers. Specifically, the knowledge generated is expected to be transferable and scalable to public authorities, policy-makers, certification agencies, universities, and non-government organisations seeking to adopt adaptive support for novice teachers within their contexts.


The Approach

NEST experimental methodology will follow a quasi-experimental design across Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania and Spain

NEST will examine the impact of mentor training (intervention I) and adaptive mentoring for novice teachers (intervention II) across five countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania and Spain) for two years. The NEST model builds on the four-A-scheme which defines basic principles of the right to education (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.

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. To this end, the units of study design will focus on the two target groups: experienced teachers (trained mentors and a control group) and novice teachers (intervention and control group). The project will examine seven educational systems overall, as in Spain and Belgium two educational systems will participate in the project.

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).

Mentors and Teachers


Theory of change in NEST

NEST Approach

Mentor Competencies and Skills increase as a result of NEST mentor trainings

Mentors something something

Mentor operates with self-awareness of their identity, role as mentor, and vision of success.

Mentor builds strong, trusting relationships with mentees.

Mentor builds their own and mentees’ ability for reflection and reflective dialogue grounded in evidence.

Mentor has a solid understanding of effective pedagogy and the interconnectedness of different aspects of instructional practice.

Mentors contribute to novice teachers skills development and improved retention in disadvantage schools

Teacher mindset: Improved motivation and job satisfaction.

Teacher mindset: Strengthened orientation to build authentic relationships with students while empowering them and fostering student engagement.

Teacher knowledge and competence: A strong and conducive  classroom culture (learning environment, rules, etc.)

Teacher knowledge and competences: Ability to set a vision and goals based on learning objectives along with effective planning skills

NEST experimental design and timelines

Sep 2021
April 2022
April 2023
Intervention Group Mentors

Tailored mentor training and mentoring activities

Mentoring activities and follow up

Control Group Mentoring Teachers

Control for prevalent mentoring teachers’ qualification and work

Oct 2021
June 2022
Oct 2022
June 2023
Intervention Group Novice Teachers
Adaptive mentoring provided to group n1

Adaptive mentoring provided to group n2

Control Group Novice Teachers

Control for prevalent mentoring (group cn1)

Control for prevalent mentoring (group cn2)