Newly appointed mentors for United Access, United Learning’s four-year university access programme for the students in its schools, attended their first training day last week.
The new initiative – a partnership with educational charity Accelerate and Access Foundation (AAF) – is aiming to support and enable students within the Group from low-income backgrounds to access the UK’s top universities.
Three students from each of the six schools involved will be attending a series of residentials at Caterham School and, over the four year programme, will have the support of a university undergraduate or recent graduate in the role of ‘learning mentor’.
In preparation for the first residential this summer, these new mentors attended AAF’s 2017 Mentor Training Day at City University, London on Tuesday 20th June where they met colleagues from parallel programmes and existing, experienced mentors for a day of presentations, practical workshops and idea-generation activities.
The day was a chance for current mentors working with AAF to share their experiences with those newly inducted into United Access and provide valuable advice for developing their own approach to mentoring. Attendees then worked together to share ideas and craft their plans for the programme’s upcoming summer residentials.
In the afternoon, the new United Access mentors explored the challenges and opportunities facing United Learning students, how mentors could best support them and ways in which the programme should seek to maximise students’ academic potential. This included planning an activity to tie in with United Learning’s summer cultural celebration – IDeas Festival – to encourage students to picture who they would like to be when they graduate from university and set ambitious goals towards achieving this.
Ceri Jones, Headmaster of Caterham School and Trustee of AAF, said:
“The relationships between mentors and mentees are mutually beneficial; it can be genuinely inspiring to witness the way in which these groups of young people interact as they work to fulfil their potential. Likewise, as current undergraduates, our mentors are best placed to be able to support and encourage United Access students to go beyond their normal classroom learning and set higher expectations for themselves in terms of academic outcomes and university aspirations.”
Anthony Fahey, Senior Teacher at Caterham School, who is planning the timetable for United Access, said:
“As we approach the first student residential in July, it has been excellent to meet our newly appointed United Access mentors and get to grips with planning some engaging, challenging and hopefully inspiring activities for the first programme cohort. We are all excited to see how students respond to what we have planned, which will focus on thinking positively about their futures and setting ambitious goals for themselves.”
Becca Tomlinson, one of the new United Access mentors, said of the day:
“I really enjoyed the day. It was great to meet the other mentors and the training has got me really excited for the challenges and projects ahead.”