Mentoring scheme for Year 7 gets thumbs up from pupils

Thursday 12 March 2020

Year 12 Sarah and her young charge year 7 Erinn have found the mentoring scheme a really positive experience

Making the transition between primary and secondary school can be a really daunting time for youngsters, with pupils having to get to grips with a new timetable, more homework, different expectations and disciplinary procedures, and the challenge of making new friends.

To help address these issues and enable our new pupils to settle into school more quickly at the beginning of Year 7, a mentoring scheme has been introduced, whereby Year 12 students are teamed up with Year 7 or 8  pupil to help show them the ropes, act as a sounding board and even be a shoulder to cry on if necessary.

The scheme was introduced at the beginning of the autumn term after the 21 Year 12 students who volunteered to become mentors had been trained.

“We felt that it would be a good opportunity for some of our 6th form students to give back through mentoring,” said assistant principal and director of inclusion Ms Knight. “Peer mentoring is a great opportunity for our year 12 students to lead by example by demonstrating care and compassion to our younger pupils.  It teaches all pupils how to interact and communicate with each other.  In my opinion there is nothing better than being able to give back to your community and this is exactly what our year 12 students are doing.”

Oghale (centre) with her mentees, Keyra and Oscar

The Year 12 students received six weeks of training, which included taking the time to reflect on their own individual school experience from primary school, right through to secondary school, as well as being aware of safeguarding issues.  “The training gave the year 12 students the opportunity to reflect on and think about the different people that they felt supported by before entering 6th form. It also gave them the time to think about adults who have been most influential in their lives,” explained Ms Knight.

It may be early days, but the feedback so far has been very positive, with many Year 12 students saying they wished that such a scheme had been in place when they themselves had started at secondary school, while the Year 7 pupils have found it really reassuring to have a friendly face they can rely on.

“For the year 7 and year 8 pupils involved, this weekly space gives them the opportunity to speak about school life and how it is going,” said Ms Knight. “The pupils have the opportunity to discuss all aspects of school, including what is and what isn’t working well. The pupils can also ask their mentors for subject specific support.”

Erinn is in Year 7 and started at Bolingbroke last September. She was formerly at Wix primary school and said she found it a “big change” when she joined the Academy. However, she has been able to depend on her mentor, Year 12 student Sarah, to help her to settle in. “It really helped a lot, having Sarah there,” said Erin. “She really looks after me, and she talks to me about how I’m feeling and what’s happening.” Sarah too, who has ambitions to study psychology at university, has found it a positive experience. “I had met Erinn a couple of times before we started the mentoring scheme, and Mr Thomas suggested I join,” she said. “I find it really enjoyable to spend time with Erinn, and satisfying to be able to help.”

Sarah said she would recommend that anyone considering becoming a mentor shouldn’t hesitate. “It takes time to develop a relationship with your mentee, but it’s really worth it,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to go for it.”

Oghale in Year 12 is another of our student mentors, and she has been teamed up Oscar and Keyra, both in Year 7. Keyra said she enjoyed spending time with Oghale, and added: ”It’s not like normal lessons. It’s been a big help in helping us to settle into the school.”

She said that being mentored by Oghale had also given her a big confidence boost. “In certain situations, I find that I am able to stand up for myself better.”

Oghale has also found the mentoring scheme beneficial. “My mentees are so different, and I enjoy listening to them and helping them,” she said. “It’s really important that you put yourself in their shoes to try and understand them. I wish that when I had joined secondary school that I had had a mentor, and someone who was there for me – I think it would have made me less shy and given me more confidence. Adjusting to the new rules of a different school can be difficult.”

 

Another of the Year 12 mentors is Shiloh, who has three mentees under his wing - Nakhi, Tyrell and Micah.

Micah who came from Highview primary  said that initially he found it difficult to adjust to Bolingbroke. “I don’t like rules, and got into a lot of trouble at first and was always in detention. But Shiloh helped me to behave myself, follow the rules and not get annoyed so easily.”

Nakhi, another former Highview pupil, described the mentoring sessions as “fun”, while Tyrell in Year 8 who was formerly at Honeywell said he also enjoyed the sessions, and that it was enjoyable spending time with Shiloh. “I enjoy talking,” he said.