Student Progression Team: What it's like working as a mentor
The class were staring up at me from the table, expecting me to explain the significance of what they had just created. Each one had in their hands a self-made, aspiration-based ‘action plan’. In order to deliver a session on post-16 options, an SPT mentor must remember that from as early as year nine, many steps the students take have an impact on their prospects in life, which is a fact many students seem unaware of. This was therefore the motivation behind showing them how to formulate a long-term action plan.
My job as an SPT mentor involves preparing such sessions to inform students between years nine and ten of the options available to them, including: higher education, apprenticeships and work placements. Usually, I will start a session with a written reflection on the previous week and an icebreaker, followed by an activity, and finally explaining its relevance to them. As I explained the significance of making their ‘action plans’, the students gradually realised that in doing such a simple exercise they now knew what they wanted to achieve in five years’ time, and the steps needed to get there.
When you begin the process, you are unfamiliar with the students and it can be challenging to keep them focused on the task at hand. However, over the course of three one-hour sessions a week, I got to know the distinct personalities of the students. After two more weeks, I knew their goals in life and the steps each student needed to take; from GCSE options and grades, to A-levels or apprenticeship schemes, to the University application process or full-time work. However, I felt most rewarded by this process by seeing how the sessions I offered could allow the students to discover and raise their own aspirations, providing information to assist them where necessary. I was also surprised by how the process changed me. In getting to know the students and becoming driven to support them, my sessions transformed from being informative yet generalised, to catering specifically to the potential aspirations of each student in my group.