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Kate Norman

Thomas Clarkson Academy

Head of Foundation Learning

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Mentor training for kids?


Hi!  I'm trying to establish a youth mentoring scheme in a large secondary school.  I'd like c.10 11-12 year olds to receive basic training in how to be good, effective and supportive learning mentors, before pairing them up with vulnerable (e.g. disaffected, low self-esteem or recent immigrant arrivals) younger children.  I'd like the mentors to receive some professional training as a way of raising their own confidence and self-esteem before they embark on the project, but I can't find any suitable training providers online. Does anyone have any good recommendations for trainers/workshop providers who could offer this for me?  Thanks!

3 Responses

  1. “learning mentors”

    Hi Kate

    What are the parametres you want these kids to work within; are they their to mentor others about "learning" or is it the other elements of life, behaviour, attendance, socialising, settling in/fitting in.  If the former I'd say that there could be clashes between the student mentor and the teachers/classroom assistants….I imagine that some parents may see this programme as a form of moneysaving plan by avoiding employing adults to do the job.

    If it is the latter then it may be worth looking at the prospective age of the mentors….11-12 year olds sounds a bit too soon to me.  If you watch the current TV documentary about Harrow, they have a bit of a mentoring programme but they get the fifth and sixth formers to mentor the "shells" ie the 16/17 year old are mentoring the 11-12 year olds.  At my school the fourth form had kids alloted as "guardians" to the new boys, a similar programme but it was not a select few or voluntary; everyone had to be a guardian….it was considered a character building "duty".

    You may have already done it but it would be a good starting point to establish the boundaries of the whole programme and then look for a provider….You could try the local scouts, guides or the Prince's Trust who provide a lot of good mentoring. Alternatively give me a ring or PM me.

    Rus Slater (07812 170391)


  2. Hi Kate,

    Hi Kate,

    How has the school responded to your offer? I have worked in schools for many years and they can be difficult places to get into. A lot of schools will run something similar for children they have identified as needing additional support. To make it a sucess you need to get a senior leader on board. Also bear in mind schools have a responsibility to protect their vulnerable students and may want to know why you feel you are well placed to support them.

    What do you want the learning mentors to mentor the more vulnerable students in? I would suggest you narrow the focus you want to work with, for example students with low-self esteem have very different needs from children who have recently come to the UK. 

    I think it would also be interesting for you to go into some schools which run similar projects, I would suggest inner city schools which have more students who need additional support. 

    Finally, you mentioned looking for training providers, who are you thinking of training, kids or staff? There are lots of good organisations which do workshops for students, this is often organised by the leader of PSHE in the school so contact them, they will be a useful contact anyway. Also I would be wary of including a cost to the school in your programme, they already pay people in school to do what you are doing…

    I would love to hear how it goes, good luck! ps if you are in Bristol I can give you some concrete recommendations / contacts.

  3. An idea…….

    Could you get the young people to take turns listening to and helping each other? If they talked afterwards about what the helper did that worked, then learning about how to do it would be built in. After lots of practice, they might then want to use their skills to help more disadvantaged students. (Though even then a peer process is more powerful as it builds the self esteem and confidence of the helper).

    This process works very well with adults. I don't have personal experience of working with children, but you might find some useful guidance from the cocounselling website

    Here is how to use this approach in an organisation and here is one way to teach it (though this was with adults).

    This might be a crazy idea, please let me know what you think. If you want any clarification or have any questions, or comments, please email [email protected] or call 01707 886553

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Kate Norman

Head of Foundation Learning

Read more from Kate Norman

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