Barnsley council has approved £175k funding for the mentors to support 720 pupils who will be sitting GCSEs and A-levels next summer through the GROW mentoring programme.
The GROW programme will be rolled out in schools across the town after the funding was approved as part of a range of measures to support pupils affected by school closures and missed lessons due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fifty-five new graduate mentors will be recruited to run a six-week programme offering one-to-one support to pupils who have been most affected by lockdown and subsequent disruption.
The mentors will receive intensive training before being deployed into schools to work closely with pupils and teachers to help students set goals and feel positive about their future.
The GROW programme was initially designed for Y11 pupils and the funding will also be used to tailor the programme to best support Y13 pupils at their specific stage in their studies, their decision making and future planning.
Councillor Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said: “This year has been incredibly tough for all our children and young people, but we’ve heard great stories from local schools saying how determined and motivated pupils are to do well in their exams.
“Our schools and college have put in place a range of measures and support for all Year 11 and 13 students, to ensure that they have the best chance in their exams and to ensure that Barnsley young people succeed.
“Together with our schools and college we have a shared ambition and commitment for every child to be able to achieve their potential and receive the qualifications they need to take their next steps in life.
“We also want to make sure that our young people have the skills to look after their mental health and wellbeing. I want to thank all the young people and school staff for their hard work this year, as well as parents and carers for supporting them."
The programme was launched in July with a pilot in four schools across South Yorkshire. An evaluation of the pilot found an increase in engagement by all pupils who took part, increased motivation and confidence.
GROW aims to support the government’s National Tutoring Programme which was launched in schools last month.
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.
GROW programme director, Sue O’Brien, said: “We’re delighted Barnsley Council has approved this funding to support hundreds of pupils in the town to refocus on their education during these incredibly challenging circumstances.
“The 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.
“During these crucial transition years as young people look forward to either their post-16 post-18 options, the programme provides pupils with a relatable role-model who can guide, champion and inspire them on their educational journey and beyond, and support an improvement in academic attainment.
“This, alongside the wider measures put in place by Barnsley Council, will make a huge difference to the outcomes for these young people.”