Scottish Youth Mentoring Children
nurturing potential and trust in community
Pre-programme Risk Selection
Using a targeted tool, teachers select young people, who then attend a presentation, hearing about the programme, allowing them to make an informed choice. For eligibility, a young person may be: receiving Free School Meals; involved with Social Services; from a troubled family/have poor family support; in care, care experienced, bullied or is a bully; socially isolated; unhappy and disengaged; with low self-esteem; poor attendance or truanting; with behavioural problems; feeling hopeless about their future and known to engage in risky behaviour.
Preparation for Mentoring
Before mentoring begins, there are two preparatory sessions, setting collective group goals in the community environment, establishing an environment of inclusion and community participation and in mentoring skills. Each weekly session runs as follows:
Mentoring in the nursery – Care is taken to ensure participants are in the right mind frame to mentor a child. Assigned their child – Participants mentor for 1.5 hours each week as work experience. They build perseverance, resilience and self-efficacy around the challenges the child brings and gain confidence using their skills and seeing the children develop. They are treated as volunteer staff, building work skills and giving them a sense of responsibility and community engagement. It is central to our work that we show trust, so they can (often for the first time) be treated as responsible citizens.
Facilitated Classroom Sessions
For 1.5 hours, post nursery time, young people attend group peer sessions, learning interpersonal/social skills. The mentor pairings allow the young person to see the positive impact of their effort on the child and the local nursery. They see the child’s potential and are coached to reflect on their own. They discuss their experience in the nursery and follow a curriculum that focuses on building/developing community engagement and applying lessons learnt to their own lives. There are sessions on risky behaviours (substance misuse/sexual health), as well as decision-making, choices and consequences, and barriers to achievement. There is a focus on creating personal goals in education and awareness of the social value of their contribution. Facilitators use positive appraisal to build self-esteem and confidence by using real examples from the nursery.
Qualification and Portfolio
Throughout the programme young people create a portfolio for the SCQF Level 3 qualification in Personal Development, ‘Self in the Community’, often their first qualification. This academic achievement builds confidence and helps them to re-engage with education. Facilitators link educational achievement/attainment to future aspirations. The qualification is at a level where 90% of participants succeed. The programme ends with a community celebration to recognise achievements and how they have impacted their community/grown their social economy. This includes a Graduation Ceremony within school when young people receive acknowledgement from their peers, teachers and family.