Our Volunteer Learning Mentors help children and young people with their homework and study skills for an hour a week in the family home. Through these amazingly committed volunteers building a relationship with the young person and their family, assisted by targets from class teachers and resources provided by Love to Learn, young people’s confidence in their learning grows enormously.
The one to one relationship gives young people the chance to ask questions they may not feel able to ask in class; the learning mentor often finds “gaps” in their learning that they can focus on; for others it is about developing their vision for their future and focusing on subjects they know they want to do well in.
We always have far more children and young people waiting for learning mentors than we have capacity for, but in the last three years our numbers have grown from 20 learning mentors to 50 at any one time. We are now starting a new programme, Learning Spaces, which will further increase our number of learning mentors to at least 60. Although our learning mentors commit for 6 months at the start, many do more than 9 months and others have worked with us for years, moving on to new families after a year or so.
Our priorities are to support children and young people from a refugee background, or those specifically needing a lot of educational support. We also target those moving from primary to secondary school, from Year 9 to GCSEs or those sitting GCSE exams in the next year. Other young people we may prioritise are those “behind” their peers, where there may suspected be SEN needs or where a child or young person takes a young carer role within the family.
Time and time again the children/young people and families we work with tell us that they have been able to make progress through the help given by their learning mentors.
Criteria for the programme are as follows:
- They are approaching tests, exams and school transition.
- They require educational support due to language, disrupted education (both pre and post migration) or additional needs (SEN, mental health or behavioural)
- They are from Refugee backgrounds
- They are in poverty*
- Have recently arrived in the UK -in particular unaccompanied minors
- Have low confidence, aspirations and/or self-esteem
*We use Trust for London- https://www.trustforlondon.org.uk/data/what-poverty/ and New Policy Institute – https://www.npi.org.uk/files/2915/0754/2603/Londons_Poverty_Profile_2017_report.pdf to measure poverty margins in the city.