Churchill Community College, Wallsend
School stories

Churchill Community College, Wallsend

Churchill Community College, Wallsend

Paul Johnson, headteacher at Churchill Community College, shares how Academic Mentors have been supporting his pupils and the wider school community.

Context

We’re a school serving a disadvantaged community in the North East. Even before we came back for the new academic year in September, we knew many of our pupils had fallen behind and had struggled to engage with classes during the first lockdown. We analysed engagement levels on Google Classroom and made phone calls to students. Numerous pupils simply didn’t have the tech or even broadband access needed to study at home and many were trying to answer questions or write essays on mobile phones. What was clear too was that pupils missed the structure of school, which sadly meant some lost confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Based on our assessments, we decided to prioritise providing support for students facing exams (Year 11 and Year 13), and in particular to prioritise equipping them with the skills, strategies, resources and motivation to be able to study and learn independently.

This is why we decided to go down the Academic Mentor route, because we wanted a full time member of staff. Someone who could embed themselves within the school community and build relationships with the pupils.

Academic Mentors

We were delighted to welcome our Academic Mentors to our school last term, who trained through the education charity Teach First. They started just after the Autumn half term and we’ve been really impressed with how quickly they’ve started to build relationships and support the members of our school community.

Their work so far has been truly invaluable. Before lockdown, they were helping to run revision sessions, one-to-one interventions, online video support for those who needed to study from home and even helped with personal statements. Cases of Covid-19 were high in our area and we were struggling with teachers needing to self-isolate and teach remotely – so our Mentors often step into those classes and supported pupils when their teacher is teaching from Zoom!

We’re so impressed with them and feel confident they’ll make a huge difference in our pupils’ lives. Both our Mentors are keen to explore a career as a teacher in the future, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for them too to understand and explore the career, and luckily both are loving it so far! We’re thrilled to be supporting them on their journey and feel so grateful to have them as part of our school community.

We were delighted to welcome our Academic Mentors to our school last term. Their work so far has been truly invaluable. Before lockdown, they were helping to run revision sessions, one-to-one interventions, online video support for those who needed to study from home and even helped with personal statements. Cases of Covid-19 were high in our area and we were struggling with teachers needing to self-isolate and teach remotely – so our Mentors often step into those classes and supported pupils when their teacher is teaching from Zoom!

Advice for other schools

We decided on Academic Mentors as we found that a full time member of staff, who could embed themselves in school and build relationships with the pupils, would make the biggest difference. The fact the salaries are paid for by the Department for Education was also a great bonus. We will also be using the Tuition Partners pillar of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) from this month, to provide catch-up support in English and Humanities.

My advice to other schools is simply: go for it. All schools, particularly those serving disadvantaged communities, have been through huge challenges this year. While any support needs to sit alongside well-funded and well-resourced schools, the help our Academic Mentors have provided over the last term has been invaluable in accelerating the learning of pupils who need the most support.

Churchill Community College is accessing NTP support through the Academic Mentors pillar. Mentors are recruited and trained by Teach First.

The deadline for schools to hire Academic Mentors has passed for 2020/21. Schools can access tutoring via NTP Tuition Partners.

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