One of the cornerstones of our successful school is the excellent Sixth Formers we have. They are, in the most part hard-working, dedicated, caring and inspirational. These are the characteristics I would want all our teachers to have let alone the students. With this in mind we decided we wanted to use this resource effectively. This is not a novel idea but we have tried a new approach this year.
Heads of Department send me a list of the boys in Year 10 and Year 11 who they feel would benefit from the scheme. They also choose a corresponding number of Sixth Form Mentors. They choose a set day, time and location for the mentoring to occur. They also provide some training for the mentors. I then produce a letter which is sent home to parents to inform them their son has been selected for mentoring, it also gives the timings and details of the support. The sessions then run for a five week burst. If during that time the student feels it is not working then he can speak to the HoD to opt out of the scheme. If the student feels he has filled all the gaps in his knowledge before the 5 weeks is up then he can also opt out. Students are also able to sign themselves up for the scheme if they wish.
Issues to Overcome:
Some students are wanted in more than one subject. To overcome this we only run for 5 week bursts thereby allowing the student to potentially be mentored in 6 subjects over the year. A student can stay with the same subject if he is not wanted elsewhere. We don’t want students doing sessions every lunchtime as it then becomes a punishment and not support.
The major issue is students not turning up. For a first offence the Head of Department chases the student. If it happens again then I will deal with the matter alongside the Head of Department. Should it happen a third time the student is given an after school and removed from the scheme. The parents are also informed. When the correct protocol is followed the matter is quickly resolved.
One of the nicest aspects this year was that HoDs wanted to write letters home to the mentor’s parents to praise them for their excellent support. I also need to ensure all departments follow the protocol if failure to attend becomes an issue. I also need to look carefully at the timings for the support as occasionally they clashed with other events. In the Maths Department we also ran it across KS3. This is something we might look to develop next year but possibly using Year 11s as the mentors.
Below is an evaluation according to the students. We had over 80 students using Sixth Form Mentors at one time or another.
“A good service. Really good help for controlled assessments” French
“The mentoring has been very good and I have improved greatly in many areas of the subject. I have enjoyed it thoroughly and Leo was very friendly” Latin
“I found it greatly helpful for this subject as I was struggling in the past and this mentoring helped me a lot to improve in the subject” French
“I think that it is a major help and would recommend it to anyone who is struggling” French
“6 weeks is not a long enough course to properly help with a subject. Did increase confidence with subject” Latin
“I’m really grateful to have had a mentor. There were no problems throughout the 2 years and I have definitely become a lot more confident in Physics” Physics
“My mentor had lots of sound knowledge of the subject and gave me exact knowledge that I need for my exam” Biology
“ I understand that the mentors tried to help with furthering my education, but the overall effect the tutoring had on me was minimal. I thank the boys and teachers for trying to help me through” Latin
“I found that without a scheduled day of the week to meet it was difficult to organise mentoring” Biology
“This support is not represented as such but as a detention. I have apparently ‘wasted time’ even though the conditions are impossible to work in. Although I appreciate I was not very reliable for turning up, that is probably to the fact that I did not want to be there!” French
“I thought I benefitted a lot from these sessions as we worked on the topics that I found difficult and now I understand these topics” Chemistry
“I only attended 3 sessions, all of which were over before our last half term break but since then I did not attend it anymore as I did not feel I was benefitting much during the sessions. This is because the teaching style was the same as the lessons where I have been taught it before so I still could not grasp some of the ideas” Physics
“I attended most of the mentoring sessions and they were generally quite helpful. However, there wasn’t really a structure as to how the mentors would help and I think the mentoring sessions would have been better if there was a structure” Latin
“I think it was very good as it gave me the opportunity to ask questions to him and get a fully explained answer back. I would not have asked the questions in class. It was also good Hashem is a student so he had done the GCSE more recently than teachers. Hashem also had special techniques for remembering things off by heart, which also helped a lot” Physics
“Max helped me to improve my English writing and speaking skills. Thanks” English
“Physics mentoring began for me prior to Christmas. After the Christmas holiday, I made the choice to return to the mentoring sessions. Since then, my confidence in this subject has drastically improved and from then I decided to seek out the Chemistry Department for potential mentors because the sessions had proved so successful. Since beginning mentoring, I have greatly improved my knowledge of the subject area and am greatly thankful for the opportunity.” Physics