Students can really flourish if given the right support

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Everybody deserves a second chance.

That’s what they believe at the Targeted Mentoring Support Service (TMSS) in Portsmouth – and it’s an attitude that is bearing fruit.

For some people, academia is just not for them.

For whatever reason, they feel like a square peg in a round hole at school.

In a system that places great importance on achieving good exam results, they can often feel left by the wayside.

But the TMSS, which operates under the umbrella of the Harbour School at Milton, provides a team of mentors who work with Key Stage Four students from Portsmouth schools to come up with tailor-made, vocational-based courses that give young people another educational opportunity.

Those involved also get to learn some valuable life skills and are given help in one-to-one sessions to prepare them for the world of work.

As a result, pessimism and resignation are replaced by enthusiasm and optimism.

That’s great to see.

Because it’s all too easy for people to get ‘lost’ in the education system and feel like failures if their exam results are poor, when they actually have so much to offer.

With the right approach and the slate wiped clean, they can flourish.

Thanks to the TMSS, they can learn using individual plans and, as a result, gain qualifications that will help them get an apprenticeship or college place.

The key is asking students about their interests and then finding work experience, activities and courses that fit.

It’s a simple but effective approach, treating students like grown-ups rather than children and letting them influence the direction they take.


Instead of disaffected young people who may have had a problem with authority and the confines of the classroom, the TMSS is helping to produce rounded individuals who have an awful lot to offer potential employers. That is great news.