Year 11 Mentoring

One of the highlights of my week is my morning meeting with my Year 11 mentoring group.  I’ve worked with the eleven members of our group for almost a year now. During Year 10 they were identified as students with significant potential, who had the confidence and resilience to develop leadership skills, but who lacked focus and direction.  We have worked together on a range of projects over the last year including planning a visit to the head office of Lord’s Taverner’s charity in London to learn about careers in the Sports Industry and working to plan and deliver teaching sessions to Year 7 students on a range of science and mathematics topics.  Every student has achieved a Level 2 Award in Leadership as a result of this programme. The challenging teenagers I first met with in 2017 are now blossoming into mature young adults. They still have their moments, they still have very strong opinions, and they are not afraid to share with us all, but they are also fantastic students with huge potential. They have a much improved work ethic and sense of ambition and I am looking forward to them achieving great success in their summer exams.

 As with many teachers, I have always provided additional mentoring support for students in Year 10 and 11 as they approach their final exams.  On reflection, the work I’ve completed with the students this year has been the most successful and rewarding so far.  This is for the following reasons:

 Careful selection of students: As a school we have worked hard to ensure the right students are matched with the right members of staff for mentoring.  I feel the group I am working with have gelled very well as a group. They share a common interest in sport and have remained good friends with each other throughout the year.  I also feel they respond well to my natural teaching style.  We can have a joke at each others’ expense while at the same time they know that we need to focus and work hard to make the most of our time together.

 Every student needs an advocate: It is really important that every child in our school feels they have someone they can turn to.  Whilst their behaviour sometimes makes this challenging, I feel the students have appreciated knowing that I will be prepared to listen to them, and at times speak on their behalf.  Most of the time my role is to advise them how to manage the situation themselves. It is important they develop the independence to overcome challenges and have difficult conversations themselves.

 Management by walking about: The pastoral team in our school have worked really hard to improve communication and our use of behaviour information. Every day each head of year sends round a report of any issues that has arisen.  I am able to pick up any concerns with my mentees, and am able to have a conversation with them within 24 hours.  Most of these take place during lunch or break duty – they are informal discussions about incidents that occur and how things are going generally. We have been able to resolve and move on from many incidents before they have developed into a major concern through this approach.

 Praise and recognition: As well as early conversations about concerns, our school culture encourages specific praise and recognition for good work.  I have made it my business to catch my students working well, achieving positives and have praised them for this.  Where possible I have also shared the good news with parents who we have worked closely with over the last year.

 Don’t overdo exam preparation: Previously I have always focussed my mentoring entirely on revision timetables and strategies and exam preparation.  The students have told me that they are already feeling very supported by our assembly and tutor time programme. They wanted to do something different.  We now have a weekly discussion about current affairs and then link this to the skills they require for their English language GCSE.  Students have told me they enjoy that approach and they are finding it useful support for their exams.

 Future plans: We spend a lot of time talking about the students ambitions for the future and making sure they are clear how to get there. Having an end goal, even if this changes during the time, is really important to help focus and motivate students.

I continue to enjoy working with our Year 11 students.  This year I feel we have taken an approach where we have had a genuinely positive impact on the students involved. I can’t wait to see what they will achieve in the future.