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.
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.