University of Cumbria student volunteers are pioneering a groundbreaking new scheme. Every Wednesday year 10 and 11 pupils from Worden Sports College in Leyland meet with students from the University of Cumbria for valuable mentoring in the run up to their GCSE exams. During the 2 hour session they are also offered help with future career choices and encouraged to consider a whole range of options open to them once successfully finishing their studies at secondary School.
Alan Cree, who is in his final year as a trainee teacher at the University of Cumbria teamed up with UCSU Volunteering to establish the mentoring scheme which has been running since November. He’s enthusiastic about the venture, which he believes encourages young people to aim higher.
“The impact that the volunteer mentors have on these pupils is immense,” says Alan. ‘Pupils are amazed that there are people prepared to give up their own time, show an interest and encourage them to aim higher.”
The response has been so positive that many of the pupils are starting to seriously consider their future and start planning their career path. They are keen to visit the University and find out more about the range of opportunities on offer. Most of them would not have contemplated going to university before meeting Alan’s team of SU volunteer mentors.
Staff at the school have been impressed by the professionalism and commitment of the team of volunteers too, and they’re delighted with the results. ‘Some pupils started on the scheme to get out of regular lessons,’ says Mike Gardner, Director of Intervention, ‘we’ve noticed a change in their attitude to their studies.’
At the end of the programme pupils worked collaboratively to produce a short presentation on what they’d learned throughout the project. Some had used the scheme to help them decide which career to pursue; others received practical help on how to revise for success in exams. All of them were introduced to the notion that they can achieve more together, than they can on their own. Prizes were awarded by Emma Green, Vice-President of the Students’ Union’s Newton Rigg Campus and Emma Egglestone, UCSU’s Volunteer Co-ordinator, to the pupils whose presentation best captured the ethos and learning from the mentoring sessions.
Emma Egglestone, UCSU’s Volunteer Co-ordinator, supported the scheme and is delighted with its success. ‘We’d love to run this scheme again next year and would be happy to hear from schools who would like to participate.’
As a trainee teacher, Alan is also convinced there are plenty of reasons to volunteer. ‘Trainee teachers need to build up their teacher file evidence and becoming mentors is a really good way to do it. And you get to see how a school works from the other end of the telescope as it were. It’s definitely worthwhile for everybody – pupils, teachers and volunteers.’
“All of the year 10 and 11 students who took part in the mentoring programme really got a lot out of it – and they enjoyed themselves at the same time. On behalf of the College I would like to thank all the mentors for their hard work and efforts. A very special thanks to Alan Cree for all of his hard work in organizing this event.” Mike Gardner, Director of Intervention, Worden Sports College.
“The mentoring was good because it helped with revision. They gave us lots of advice on revision and how to remember things”. Callum Heyes. Year 11
“I thought that our mentor, Annie-Jane Walker was a very pleasant and friendly person. It was quite enjoyable and motivating and it was good to have some time spent with us in small groups to learn and look at the future”. Mikhael Alcock. Year 10
“I thought mentoring was good. It taught me how to revise and manage my time”. Craig Hutchinson. Year 11
“I thought the mentoring sessions were really useful. I’ve learnt new revision techniques which are really helpful and effective. Our mentor really helped with any problems.” Hayley Derry. Year 10
“I thought that the mentoring was really good and I learned a lot of things with Becky Martin like how to use mind-maps usefully”. Jonathan Barber. Year 11
“It was useful because we talked about career paths and what we plan to do in the future. Overall, I think it was very good”. Lauren Hodgeon. Year 10