Sunday, 6 September 2015

researchED 2015: Part 4

Phew, I feel like I'm on a roll today, so I won't stop now!

The final session that I attended was 'High impact peer mentoring' by James Simpson (@2ndary_Source).  I think a lot of people missed the dissemination of some really great knowledge by leaving the session before it began. When I first entered the room, it was almost full, but by the time James put his presentation on the board, people seemed to decide it wasn't for them. I felt it was rather rude that people left, some mid-way through the opening five minutes! I understand that there are a lot of options available, but the polite thing to do is to stick with your choice once the speaker has begun! Perhaps this is the the overly-polite Canadian in me speaking, who knows, but I certainly felt some sympathy for James as people started to leave after he'd started speaking, and I applaud his ability to persevere despite that!

Anyways, as mentioned above, those who left missed out on hearing about some wonderful research and practice. The scope and scale of the peer mentoring project undertaken by James and his grammar school is nothing short of amazing. I think the results, much like that generated by my own research, suggest that such cross-age peer mentor schemes have largely positive repercussions for all involved, staff and students alike.

Listening to James talk about the project immediately got my mind whirring about the possibilities for cross-age mentoring at my school. Already we have a system of peer mentors, whereby Year 10 students are trained (at the end of Year 9) to become mentors to a group of Year 7 students. Each form is allocated 2 or 3 older students who aid in Year 6 induction programmes and are a visible presence in the Year 7 forms once students start at the college. However, this process doesn't usually last beyond the first half term, and the peer mentors often drop off as a presence in the classroom. It seems a shame that these relationships should be forgotten so easily. What I'd like to consider doing (among my many other possible projects) is adapting the mentoring scheme to be something that happens year-round.

Once the initial transition period is over, specific students within each form could be chosen for more one-to-one, ongoing mentoring. As a starting point, these could be Pupil Premium students or students who suffer from anxiety or other emotional issues. In doing this, the school could potentially tackle these key areas of school development at minimal cost; they've already paid to train the peer mentors, after all!

In order to make this work effectively though, I need to do a lot more reading. I'll definitely be in touch with James, as I recognise that (despite him saying that he's a 'nobody') he's got a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area. Even if this isn't a project which I undertake myself, I'm always eager to expand my knowledge and facilitate someone else in my school developing their own little 'bug bear'.

(NOTE: This post forms the third part of  my blogs about researchEd 2015. Please make sure to check out the first post, available here, the second available here and the third available here)