New College Pontefract is in its third year of a developed mentoring programme, pairing students to improve their academic performance while raising aspirations for the future. Peer Mentoring here is a working relationship between two students who are a similar age, where one student has more experience in a situation and can provide support as well as a transfer of knowledge and skills.
The mentee decides on their area of need based on exams or lesson activities depending on where they feel the additional support should be targeted, and meet up with their mentor every other week. As the relationship develops, the mentee may discover they have something to offer the mentor in terms of other experiences, knowledge or skills, which then develops the partnership into a positive two-way environment, with the balance becoming more even.
The students were trained by professionals from Cosmos Engagement, a Leeds-based company that specialises in engagement and insight, as part of the ‘Developing Mindful Mentors’ package that they offer. They were presented with a range of tasks that all encouraged communication and trust between peers. One student said ‘The Cosmos staff were professional but still welcoming. All the activities offered useful life skills as well as for mentoring’.
Research has found that mentoring delivers benefits in regards to commitment, motivation and performance, and those mentored are more likely to engage with work and perform to higher levels. Therefore the students who had the opportunity to take part in the scheme will reap the rewards. Another student commented ‘Today has been a really useful day. The entire time has been an educational experience and I would gladly do it again’.
Higher Education Officer at New College Pontefract and organiser of the event, Jane Rolfe, mentioned ‘We’re continually looking for ways to add value to our student experience while in college, and the Peer Mentoring programme certainly fits with that and our overall vision statement’.