Matthew, Annabel, Duetai, Tamar, and Steven
This year Ackworth School has launched Sixth Form Peer Mentoring. The aim of the mentoring is for older students to help, educate, and support younger pupils across the school. We spoke with five Peer Mentors to hear what they had to say…
So, tell us about Peer Mentoring, what is it?
Annabel: We started to feel that the Sixth Form Centres are quite isolated from the main school building and felt that this would be a nice way to integrate the different school years and pass on knowledge to younger peers going through school that we didn’t have.
and, why did you decide to sign up as a mentor?
Matthew: I volunteered to be a peer mentor because back when I was younger, there was no one offering this sort of support. Now, there are options available, so I wanted to do it and support anyone who may be going through things I have experienced.
What do you find most rewarding from this role?
Steven: The most rewarding part is just being able to help people. I have helped two students so far, and it’s amazing to see the smile on their faces … it really helps me as a person too, and I think there is a mutual exchange I guess, both sides are improving.
and, alternatively what have you found most challenging?
Duatei: Some of the most challenging moments can be just trying to understand and engage with the students. I have to not to be too direct sometimes. It’s all about giving your honest and own opinion without being too straight forward which could potentially scare or intimidate some peers.
Tamar: Something else I am terrified of is someone coming in with homework I don’t understand or not being able to solve the problem.
What training did you have to go through to prepare you for this?
Steven: We had three 1hr lessons where we got trained on dealing with different types of situations that we might find ourselves in. We learnt how to handle those situations and who to go to if we, as mentors, needed extra support.
Matthew: The most important bit was learning the dos and don’ts. There is a lot of responsibility with this regarding safeguarding issues so it was important for us to understand all the things we cannot do, but also the things we should do when working with each individual situation.
Interesting, can you give me an example?
Annabel: We had training on communication skills, confidentiality, and body language.
How do you feel about holding that responsibility?
Tamar: It’s kind of intimidating to be in that position of power because not only are you taking the responsibility of communicating with a younger student, but also you’re taking responsibility for the aftermath of the advice you give. So, it can feel scary to give them advice that might backfire. That’s why it’s so important to think things through for a while before jumping to conclusions.
Matthew: One advantage is you know there’s multiples of you, so we can work together.
So, you lean on each other for support too?
Matthew: Yes, and there is always three of us at one time.
Where can students find you?
Tamar: We are available every break time, lunch, and after school for 30 minutes and it’s held in the library.
Thank you to Annabel, Tamar, Matthew, Steven, and Duatei for taking the time to speak with me today about Peer Mentoring.