mentoring is the process by which one person assists another to
grow and learn in a safe and empathic relationship.
1998 I have been training young people to become peer mentors in many secondary
schools. The programme incorporates the Protective Behaviours process (PBs), elements
of the 'Thinking Environment' and also active listening techniques.
schemes are intended to support new pupils making the transition
from primary into secondary schools. The scheme fits in with the
goals of Personal, Health and Social Education (PHSE) and good
citizenship and draws on a genuine desire of young people to offer
something that will make a difference.
initial training is usually either one whole day or two half days
schemes have been set up slightly differently in each school.
Teachers negotiate when and where mentors and mentees can meet.
In addition the mentors have separate meetings to support each
most schools pupils become mentors in year 10 (14-15 years old)
as they are still close in age to the newly arriving year 7s -
they don't seem too intimidatingly 'old' and they can more easily
remember what it was like starting at secondary school. We have
found that the best time to train the mentors is at the end of
year 9 so they are ready at the beginning of their year 10 and
can show the year 7s around the school when they first start.
Often they get to meet at the end of the summer term when the
new pupils spend a day at their new school and sometimes they
visit the primary school to introduce themselves. In year 11 many
become mentors to the new year 10 mentors and so continue the
schools have chosen different ways to select mentors and run the
schemes. An important factor when setting up a new scheme is to
start with what feels manageable to the people involved at that
time. Some schools have asked pupils wishing to become mentors
to apply, stating their achievements and have then selected them
on that basis for the scheme. Other schools have accepted everyone
who has expressed an interest.
all who are interested has turned out to have had a fantastic
side effect. Mentoring is truly a two-way process of benefit to
both the mentees and the mentors. Some young people who, up until
then, were at risk of being excluded from school have blossomed
as a result of their involvement in the mentoring scheme - they
received acknowledgement of their genuine commitment and felt
validated. They honoured the responsibility to be a good role-model
for the mentee and so turned up reliably for their appointments.
This brought them into school when they may otherwise have 'bunked
off' and once in school they have often chosen to stay and attend
particular troubled young person really struggled during the training
and at one point walked out but later had the courage to return
and complete the course. The following year he became one of the
organisers of the local peer mentoring conference and also contributed
to the training of the subsequent year's mentors and shared his
skills and values acquired by being a mentor stay with the young
people for life - plant the seed, nourish and watch it grow ...