Evidence indicates that well-structured peer mentoring programmes in schools with tailored training, support and management of the mentors have great and long-lasting impact. For every pupil experiencing challenges in school, be they academic or socio-emotional, there is an older pupil in the same school who is very well placed to help. That older pupil, in acting as a mentor to the younger person (the mentee), will develop a whole host of skills and habits that are crucial to their own success in school and beyond.
Benefits for the Mentor:
Improved academic achievement
Improved attitudes towards learning
Improved levels of resilience and perseverance
Improved leadership skills
An ability to empathise with, and a desire to help those around them
Benefits for the Mentee:
A relatable and dedicated role model and a safe space to talk
Improved academic attainment
Improved attitudes toward learning
Improved levels of focus in class, and behaviour around school
Improved levels of confidence and self-esteem
What is a Peer Mentor?
“Peer mentoring is traditionally a one-to-one (or group) non-judgemental relationship in which an individual (mentor) voluntarily gives time to support and encourage another (mentee). Peer mentors provide advice and guidance whilst acting as a positive role model for younger people who require their support”.
At Christ Church Academy, Peer Mentors are valued members of the student leadership team and they voluntarily spend their free time offering support and activities to the Y5 and Y6 children.
How to Apply to be a Peer Mentor at Christ Church Academy
The application/selection process for this academic year of Peer Mentors has been slightly different than previous years due to the Covid-19 restrictions that have been in place. For this cohort, interested students were able to apply for any of the Leadership roles via an online application at the end of Y7 and up to the start of Y8. Applications were collated by their ranked order of interest, and those students that were unsuccessful in their first choices were also offered the opportunity to be put forward for other roles (other than Head boy/girl and deputies) - such as Peer Mentor.
This academic year - ALL students who applied for a Peer Mentor role were accepted onto the training programme and were able to opt out at any time before the end of the training, if they felt that the role was not really going to work for them. We had 26 students at the start of training, of which 19 students completed the training.
The ‘normal’ application/selection process usually involves a written/online application form being submitted to The Peer Mentor Coordinator (Mrs Stangroom) during the final term for Y7 students. Applicants may then be asked to attend a mini interview with a small panel made up of the ‘outgoing’ Y8 Peer Mentors, who along with Miss Rutherford and Mrs Stangroom would then make the decision as to which students would start their training after they move into Y8 during September/October.
Peer Mentor Training
Historically, the Peer Mentor training has been delivered over 1 full school day followed by weeks of ‘on the job’ training. Following on from feedback from previous Peer Mentors, a decision was made to adjust the format of the training on a trial basis for the 2020/21 cohort, and this has already proven to be a great success and especially in regards to the student’s initial confidence, commitment and enthusiasm in their new role.
‘Budding’ Peer Mentors are expected to attend a total of 8 training workshops – which consists of 2 sessions per week over a 4-week period. Each workshop runs for approximately 30-40 minutes and takes place during base time and for the early part of lunchtime. Students can request to be removed from the training programme at any time if they later decide that the role is not suitable for them. Students are able to ‘graduate’ as a qualified Peer Mentor providing, they have completed all 8 sessions to the required standard and expectations. Concessions are of course allowed for students who are absent due to sickness and who have completed 80% or more of the course.
Training Sessions Content
Session 1 – Understand Peer Mentoring and the skills/qualities required
Session 2 – Understand different perspectives and their impact on behaviour
Session 3 – Develop and promote good communication and listening skills
Session 4 – Develop good communication and questioning skills
Session 5 – Understand anti-bullying strategies and how to support as a mentor
Session 6 – Recognise ways to raise self-esteem, wellbeing and empathy
Session 7 – Understand boundaries and the importance of confidentiality
Session 8 – Peer Mentor contracts/evaluation and the duties and responsibilities at the academy
Successful Peer Mentors are awarded with a certificate and a black/gold enamelled peer mentor badge during their ‘graduation’ ceremony/party. Students are then encouraged to wear a chili - red coloured hoodie when carrying out their duties so that they are more recognisable to the younger children. Peer Mentor hoodies can be purchased via the CCA online shop if students prefer their own hoodie with their name also engraved on the reverse of the garment, or a small number of nameless hoodies are available on loan to students if required.
Peer Mentors who have an interest in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing can also volunteer to take on extra responsibilities as a wellbeing mentor known as a ‘Hope Ambassador’ which is a new initiative under the Hope Project.
Following on from their training, the Peer Mentor team will continue to receive regular supervision, meetings, guidance and ongoing training as and when required for the full academic year.
Duties and Responsibilities
At Christ Church Academy, there are a variety of leadership duties and responsibilities that are managed by the Peer Mentors / Hope Ambassadors via the Coordinator. The following list highlights some examples of activities that have been carried out by a select few or all of the Peer Mentors:
Break time drop-ins
Lunch time playground duty (on a rota)
Organising play activities during lunch
Y5/Y6 form activities during base times
Support with reading and home learning
Support at Open evenings / Open days
1:1 emotional coaching
Advertising – e.g. event posters
Peer Mentors are expected to adopt a responsible code of conduct and promote a positive role model to the younger children at the academy. Peer Mentors should also be familiar with and follow the guidelines outlined in school policies in regards to behaviour, ant-bullying, confidentiality, dress code, freedom of information, and safeguarding – which is covered during the training.
The introduction of Hope Ambassadors this year as a new ‘Hope Project’ initiative has been developed as a direct response to the documented rise in mental health problems amongst younger children, especially prevalent since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hope Ambassadors are Peer Mentors who have volunteered to take on additional responsibilities as a wellbeing mentor. Ambassadors have the opportunity to receive further training, information and guidance regarding wellbeing activities, such as mindfulness and emotional coaching strategies (early intervention) to which they can then demonstrate to the younger children as a group or on a targeted 1:1 basis.
As the year progresses - it is proposed that Ambassadors will become more involved in raising mental health awareness ‘for all’ students, 1:1 targeted coaching sessions, and fundraising events for mental health charities and the Hope Project. Hope Ambassadors can be identified by their enamelled silver and gold ‘ambassador’ badge, and as there are currently 10 volunteer Ambassadors at the academy – each Year 5 and Year 6 form group has been allocated a designated wellbeing mentor.
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