Studying at school can be a stressful experience for many youngsters.
Exams, coursework and assignments can all be a lot to take on and many young people can become distracted and find it hard to stay on track.
The Education Business Partnership has started a mentoring scheme, which enables people from local businesses to come forward and volunteer to work with students to help them reach their goals.
They work one-to-one with Year 11 students and help to inspire them to success.
Andrew Carr is from recruitment firm Serocor Group and is one of the mentors who is doing his bit as part of the scheme, working with 16-year-old Taran Harper, who is a Year 11 student at King Richard School in Paulsgrove.
Andrew says he finds the scheme very rewarding.
‘I have done quite a lot of different things with EBP. For me personally, I would have loved a mentor when I was at school.
‘I was quite similar to Taran. I was quite wayward.
‘I was very good academically but I played on it a bit so I didn’t put as much effort in.
‘So for me it’s about helping someone and giving them a bit of direction. If I can offer some advice or set them in a direction that might be useful to them then that’s great.’
And Andrew says it’s an enjoyable experience for him.
‘I enjoy it. It’s all about Taran. If I can give him some advice then that’s good,’ he adds.
‘As soon as I met him we clicked straight away and we had a laugh.’
Andrew has also led sessions working with youngsters to help improve their interview skills.
‘I had to be so confident because it would have been a bit of a letdown if I wasn’t presenting myself very well,’ he adds.
‘I worked with a group of children and they had to present in front of the whole school.
‘To see them standing up and presenting confidently and seeing how they had developed showed that it had had an impact.
‘From very early on, Taran has said that he wants to do well in his exams and wants to go on to college.
‘So the first thing we talked about was how school was going. Then we set some objectives. What can we do next?
‘I think we get on very well. We’re really similar. A lot of the things that Taran has told me are reflective of when I was his age, in home life and family life as well.
‘I used to play football and I was into the same kinds of things. I still play on the Xbox. We seem to have a lot in common.’
Taran, who has now been offered a place at South Downs College from September, says he was keen on the idea of a mentor from the start.
‘My teacher asked me if I wanted to be a part of a mentoring course. We were talking about how we would be paired up one-to-one and we can talk about what we want,’ he says.
‘It gives you a lot of confidence. I go out after a session and my friends ask me what that big smile is for.
‘It just makes you a lot more confident. It makes me work a lot more.
‘It’s good because it doesn’t feel like it’s constant questioning. I could sit there and ask the questions. There’s no structure to it. But equally, if we wanted structure, we could have it.
‘We talk about what courses I want to do. We talk about what I do outside of school and inside of school and how to represent myself in front of people.
‘It makes me look at things differently.’
Andrew adds it works both ways, as he also sees benefits to the mentoring scheme.
‘For me it’s nice to interact with people of this age group. I learn a lot from these lessons as well,’ he adds.
‘I’ve got a young daughter who is 11 years old. It’s quite challenging seeing her develop and grow up and become a young person.
‘Taran’s got younger brothers and sisters so that’s really helped me because he’s given me some advice. He’s helping me out as well.’
Activate Mentoring started as a pilot programme at King Richard School in 2014.
EBP South was commissioned by Portsmouth Together to run the programme as part of a wider volunteering initiative in the city.
The aim of the programme was to help students reach their expected levels of attainment in their GCSEs, increase their motivation and self-confidence.
A total of 14 volunteer mentors were matched with 14 Year 11 students and they met on a one-to-one basis, once a week between September 2014 and May 2015.
Based on an evaluation of the participants, students increased their motivation and self-esteem and their level of attainment.
Based on the success of the pilot, King Richard School is continuing with the programme and there are currently 15 mentors working with 15 Year 11 students.
There are also 16 mentors working with Year 10 students at Cowplain Community School.
Jess Memery is from EBP which runs the programme.
She says: ‘We believe the programme works because young people genuinely appreciate an adult spending an hour a week with them, supporting them with whatever they need.
‘In regard to its impact, the pilot suggested that the intervention of a mentor does help young people increase their level of attainment and this is critical for schools who are trying to narrow the gap between pupil premium students and their peers.
‘We run the programme and recruit volunteer mentors from the wider community to support it.
‘It is an immensely fulfilling experience to help a young person reach their goals and achieve their aspirations.’
EBP is recruiting for 11 mentors to work with students at Park Community School in Leigh Park.
If you want to get involved, please firstname.lastname@example.org.