27th February 2023
This year’s St Brendan’s / Bridge learning Campus Student Mentoring Programme culminated with a celebratory lunch and certificate ceremony just before half term and with the St Brendan’s students giving feedback speeches to their Year 8 mentees about their time and progress together. They also gave them words of advice for moving forward.
The programme organised by UWE, Bristol Achieve, St Brendan’s Sixth Form College and Bridge Learning Campus began last year with pupils in Year 7 at Bridge Learning Campus, and the plan is that this group will be mentored by a different group of Year 12 St Brendan’s students each year as they move up through the school.
The St Brendan’s students commenced on the programme before Christmas by receiving mentoring training from the team at UWE. They then began to put their new skills into action with two Year 8 students over an eight-week period. Their aim was to help build skills for life for the pupils and foster academic growth through a love of reading, and to develop oracy skills.
The mentors and their mentees chose and read a book together and worked on a number of different skills such as organisation, resilience and problem-solving. We caught up with Sasha, one of the St Brendan’s mentors to find out more about the programme.
Sasha is a Year 12 student at St Brendan’s and is an extremely helpful Student Ambassador. She studies A-level Maths, Economics and Psychology and is also completing an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). She is hoping to go on to study Psychological and Behavioural Science at University.
The book that Sasha and her mentees read and discussed together was The Maze Runner, the 2009 young adult dystopian science fiction novel by James Dashner. She really hopes that her mentees, who engaged so well in the process will continue to read in their spare time. They concentrated on a different skill each week and worked out some targets together. One example was organisation - the mentees shared with Sasha that they often end up being late to school because they have too much to do in the morning. Together they set the target to pack their school bags and get their uniform ready to put on the night before – this new way of doing things worked wonders.
Sasha shared that it was not only the mentees that gained from the experience as she feels her communication skills have improved enormously – ‘changing how you speak so that it makes sense to a Year 8, is a skill in itself.’
For me, the mentoring really helped my problem-solving skills. My mentees would talk to me about an issue they were experiencing and I would help them find a solution.
Sasha told us that her mentees really grew in confidence over the course – ‘to the point where they would tell me all sorts of things that they had been doing – and the latest Year 8 gossip!’
Last year and this year the focus of the programme has been around reading, next year it will change slightly to help the pupils with choosing their GCSE options. We look forward to catching up with next year’s mentors and following the progress of the mentees.
Sasha with her mentees