Mentors were recruited and trained to support young people in Years 10 and 11 to build confidence and skills for the future.
Share Big Idea:
Head Teachers / School Leaders, Local Authorities, Pastoral and Support Staff
Careers & Aspirations, Empowering Young People, Transition
Why was the project needed?
In the Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA), disadvantaged young people have poorer attainment by the age of 19 and are less likely to successfully move onto further or higher education than their peers. Local evidence suggested that pupils are most likely to experience dips in attainment when moving between different phases of education and the most disadvantaged pupils can find this move a challenge if they are not able to access support to overcome challenges and set-backs.
What happened and what was the impact?
The NOA partnered with Your Own Place CIC to recruit, train, support and coordinate volunteer mentors to work with students in Years 10 and 11 across 3 secondary schools in Norwich.
Following some initial struggles with the project, the NOA commissioned Your Own Place to continue the project from June 2019 to Summer 2020.Your Own Place set up referral pathways for schools, held workshops for potential mentees and trained existing and new volunteer mentors.
Schools were responsible for identifying and referring students who would benefit from the project.
Your Own Place captured individual student and mentor feedback where possible and completed a project evaluation.
What did and didn't work?
Student mentoring works well to provide young people with a space for different, open-ended conversations and to talk about ambitions, especially for young people who may not have these conversations elsewhere. A successful mentoring project needs to be long term and co-produced and owned by schools, alongside an experienced mentoring organisation.
Mentees involved in the project shared overwhelmingly positive feedback about their experiences and mentors shared their experience of building trusted relationships:
“My mentor helped me to read more about the army and police before joining.” – mentee
“He opened up a lot more over time and gave me more eye contact. He became much more positive about himself and what he could achieve.” – mentor
“The fact that the mentee has recognised that the support he’s been given is of value to him. It’s justified me continuing mentoring.” – mentor
Please see the resource section for 2 case studies, one focusing on a mentor and one on a mentee, and the final report on the project.
Considerations for the future include focusing more on school engagement from the beginning of the project.
Suggested recommendations from Your Own Place included:
Workshops with schools to define the project and expectations.
Engaged, resourced and accountable school leads.
A co-produced understanding of mentee referrals.
A comprehensive engagement strategy to recruit mentees.
Sharing of an impact strategy as a virtuous circle to maintain and continue good working practices and referrals.
How did you measure success?
The project delivery and planned evaluation were unfortunately both cut short due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Please see the final report on the project in the resources section for more information on the evaluation of the project:
23 mentors were trained in the first 6 months, with further mentor training planned and volunteers signed up.
12 mentees were referred for support and 11 of these matched up to a mentor.
55 hours of mentoring was delivered.
Ingredients For Success
Key ingredients include taking a long-term approach involving schools, to build mentoring as part of school culture, with support from a dynamic organisation with expertise of mentoring.
Is the Project Complete or Ongoing
The NOA School Mentoring project is now complete.
How is the Project Sustainable
Given their positive experience of the project, one of the secondary schools involved continues to work in partnership with Your Own Place, thanks to external funding from elsewhere.
What are the Long Term Impacts
We hope there will be a positive long-term impact on the attainment of Year 10 and 11 pupils in the Norwich area, with more pupils transitioning to further and higher education as a result.
The NOA provided £30,000 to cover the costs of setting up and running the project including commissioning Your Own Place CIC.
Seeing the difference that mentoring made for me and my mentee. Seeing our relationship grow stronger with each meeting made it very rewarding.
After a few meetings I was overjoyed to hear T tell me about all the things he enjoyed and was good at during his time at an out of school club. He started off by saying things like ” I don’t want to sound big headed but…” but after a while he understood I didn’t consider it a negative and became more confident in saying things he was good at and enjoyed. It was so brilliant to hear.
My Mentor helped me to read more about the army and police before joining.
Feedback from mentors and a mentee involved in the School Mentoring project.
Area Most Impacted
Careers & Aspiration
Empowering Young People
Next steps to do something similar yourself
These are a list of Big Idea resources that you can use to implement in your setting:
Please see the final report written by Your Own Place about the School Mentoring project:
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