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09 November 2020

Graduate mentor scheme expands to support 300 more pupils across the region

A successful graduate mentoring initiative set up by Sheffield Hallam University and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) is expanding to support an extra 300 pupils across the region to re-engage with their studies

Press contact: Jo Beattie | j.beattie@shu.ac.uk

Sheffield train station in the foreground with Sheffield Hallam University in the background

As the Government’s National Tutoring Programme gets underway, the GROW mentoring programme is extending to 10 more schools across the region with 20 new graduate mentors set to support pupils across South Yorkshire.

The programme, which launched in July with a pilot carried out in four regional schools, pairs graduate mentors with incoming Y11 school pupils to support them to re-focus on their education and help them to look forward.

The mentors receive intensive training before being deployed into schools to work closely with pupils and teachers with a focus on those pupils who have been most affected by lockdown and subsequent disruption.

Following the success of the pilot, the programme recruited 20 new graduate mentors who will be working to support 30 pupils at each of the ten schools that need the most help to build their confidence and engagement in schoolwork.

The new seven-week programme starts on November 16.  

'There are so many benefits to you as a mentor and the pupils'

One of the graduate mentors from the pilot programme, Abby Wensley, worked with pupils at XP School in Doncaster. She has now secured a job as a teaching assistant at a secondary school in Rotherham.

Abby said: “There are so many benefits to you as a mentor and the pupils. You get transferable skills and you’re building confidence and trust – I got so much out of it as well. 

“My pupils were great; we were all nervous when we started but by the end we were confident and speaking easily. It’s a really hands on experience – when it’s online you’re on your own with the pupils trying to engage with them. 

“I’m now employed, which means I can start my career and my life. The job market was terrifying as a graduate to come into and this is my perfect job that I got because of the programme.”

The initiative aims to support the £1bn ‘Covid catchup plan’ unveiled by Government earlier in the year to support a subject specific tutoring programme, aimed at helping pupils in England catch up on lost learning because of school closures.

Consultation with schools suggests that, in addition to tutoring, broader support around wellbeing as well as re-engaging and motivating pupils will be vital to help young people successfully transition back to full time school and make the right choices for their future.

Evidence shows that support based around a mentor relationship, particularly a mentor who can act as a role model a pupil can relate to, can be extremely effective.


GROW programme director, Sue O’Brien, said: “We’re delighted the scheme is extending to support more young people in the region to refocus on their education during these incredibly challenging circumstances. 

“The programme will complement the government’s National Tutoring programme by offering broader support around wellbeing and motivation.  

“It’s also a great opportunity for our graduates as it gives them really high-quality training in mentoring and supports their future employment prospects in a very difficult job market.”

The scheme will extend further in the new year and the programme is looking to recruit another 20 volunteers and a further 10 schools to take part in the programme in early 2021; in the run up to exams.

Graduates or schools interested in taking part in the programme should email the GROW team



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Jo Beattie

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