The Minister took part in an interactive session with graduate mentors and pupils from Firth Park Academy in Sheffield and Wales High School in Rotherham who are part of a pilot scheme for the GROW Mentoring Programme aimed at supporting young people navigate the transition back to full time education.
The GROW Mentoring Programme is a new initiative announced by Sheffield Hallam University and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) which will see incoming Y11 pupils in the region provided with a personal mentor, with a focus on disadvantaged pupils who are in danger of falling behind.
A pilot is underway in four schools across South Yorkshire, with a view to roll the programme out across more schools for September. It is hoped the programme will support the Government’s recently announced £1bn support package for a subject specific tutoring programme, aimed at helping pupils in England catch up on lost learning.
During the virtual visit, the Minister also took part in a round table discussion with teachers and graduate mentors from all four schools across South Yorkshire who are involved in the pilot.
"I am pleased universities like Sheffield Hallam are stepping up, supporting their communities and contributing to the national recovery effort"
The Minister also had discussions with the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Chris Husbands, and Northern Powerhouse Partnership Director, Henri Murison.
Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, said: “I know this is a difficult time for young people but I am pleased universities like Sheffield Hallam are stepping up, supporting their communities and contributing to the national recovery effort.
“It was great to hear from graduate mentors from the GROW programme about their invaluable work helping pupils as they prepare to return to school. This experience will help graduates build their skills, gain experience and bolster their CVs as they prepare to start their careers."
Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Chris Husbands, said: “We welcome the visit of the Universities Minister today to learn more about the GROW Mentoring Programme. The Class of 2020 face an extremely challenging job market, and this programme is a great example of how universities can create opportunities that both harness the skills of our graduates and support our region’s recovery as we all adapt to a post-Covid-19 landscape."
Northern Powerhouse Partnership Director, Henri Murison, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has brought the North-South educational attainment divide into sharp focus, with disadvantaged children in the Northern Powerhouse falling further behind their better-off peers.
“The catch up package Sheffield Hallam have put together with our backing is being scaled up by a partnership of Northern universities from the North East to Lancashire, and will provide vital support for disadvantaged children, as well as provide employment for graduates looking for jobs in what will no doubt be a tough market.
“A crucial element of the Sheffield Hallam tutoring offer is the emphasis it places on mental health support and mentoring input. We would urge the Minister today to study this model as a blueprint for delivering the National Tutoring Service across the country, alongside the North’s existing excellent tutoring provision in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds.”