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This project is focused on young people who are first in their generation to consider university but who may not have access to the necessary knowledge and advice in order to realise this aspiration. These students can include those experiencing ongoing socio-economic disadvantage but also those who are from working class families.
There are three key aims:
- To provide these young people with the knowledge and support necessary for their admission to and success in higher education.
- To expand and strengthen the social networks which young people can draw upon to enhance their personal, social and educational growth.
- To increase the overall number of young people from participating schools in disadvantaged areas of Glasgow that progress into higher education and particularly those highly competitive degree courses that lead into the professions.
To achieve these aims the project draws on volunteer adult mentors to support, challenge, and inspire these young people as they envisage and plan their futures. Mentors are drawn from a range of different channels but there is a focus on recruiting experienced, retired professionals from education, science, engineering and business with knowledge of higher education and relevant career pathways. These mentors commit to weekly, one to one sessions which provide academic, social and personal support for the young people as they prepare for their higher examinations and plan their future careers. The real value of the project comes when the mentors and young people become friends and form mutually supportive relationships that last.
You can see a short film about our project here.
Over the past 5 years since the mentoring project has been established, the number of young people in Springburn Academy seeking to engage in 5th year and to take 5 Highers has increased, as has the number entering higher education. There is strong evidence from our research work of the ways in which mentoring has supported and helped to steer young people into some of the most competitive higher education courses.
Our major achievement has been to secure funding from Big Lottery of 400k to support and grow the project and we are now into our 2nd year of funding of a three year project. This has allowed us to work with further schools in Glasgow and our work is attracting attention outside of Glasgow. The project was also visited and highlighted by Alan Milburn, the Chair of the Government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.
The project is designed as research and development which means that it is researched by the University team as it develops. This enables the project to examine how it is working and make adjustments when necessary to its overall design – to learn and act on its occasional mistakes! This approach is innovative in this area but aligned with the findings from a range of studies in the US to affirm the need for mentoring projects to involve collaboration between researchers and practitioners. To enable this two researchers work closely with the development of the project, interviewing all participants at different times in their mentoring relationship and feeding back key issues emerging into the project development. This qualitative work is vital to evolving the practical delivery of the project. As the project grows there will be more room to look across the different schools and quantitatively measure the impact of the project across the participating schools. The numbers of young people and the types of courses they progress into will be of particular interest.