Mosaic, Aston University and Kingsbury School and Sports College have been working in partnership for the past couple of months with a number of staff from the local university mentoring a group of Year 9 students from the school.
Sue Jakszta, Director of Every Child Matters at Kingsbury said “We are very pleased to be working with Mosaic as part of our wider partnership with Business in the Community. The work that the mentors from Aston University have carried out with our young people is very much appreciated. Research shows that the more external visitors students meet during their schooling, the less likely they are to have poor outcomes once they leave education. The impact that the mentors have had has been very positive for many of our students. They have enjoyed their sessions with the visitors, have met new people and learned to converse with people from different backgrounds, which has helped their communication skills as well as hopefully raised their aspirations. In some cases students’ confidence has increased to the extent that they are now participating more actively in their lessons, for example by speaking out more, which of course will have a beneficial impact on their learning”.
Student Jessica couldn’t agree more, stating that “The mentors have helped us understand our learning styles which have helped in our lessons. I have met new people and learned to work with different people. The mentors are really kind and understanding. I think I have improved in school, I can talk more openly now and speak up more in class”.
Annalisa Lockett, West Midlands Regional Manager commented “This is the first year that we have worked with both Kingsbury School and Aston University and it’s been a positive partnership. I recently observed a session that focused on Team Work and I was impressed with the enthusiasm and energy that the mentors brought to the session. Students engaged in a number of activities ranging from exploring the qualities that an individual needs to have in order to work as a member of a team, to them building a structure using nothing more than straws and blue tack with one student giving instructions to the rest of the team and the group working co-operatively to achieve the task in the shortest amount of time. The winning team had taken on board what they had learnt in terms of team work, listening and communication skills resulting in their structure standing for a good 10 seconds and being awarded a box of chocolates for their efforts!”
When asked why Aston University had supported the Mosaic programme Sarah Hosten, Assistant Development Professional Advisor explained that “Aston University promotes and supports staff volunteering as the variety of activities undertaken benefit the local community, staff and the institution as a whole. The University’s commitment to supporting the local community is evidenced by its investment in a dedicated Staff Volunteering Scheme, and to encourage staff to volunteer, all employees are allowed time off to participate on approved activities.
One of the key areas of interest for staff is assisting young people during their formative years, so when the work of Mosaic was brought to my attention, I was keen to investigate the possibility of an alliance. There was considerable interest from staff and through Mosaic, staff have been able to address several factors which hinder individuals’ success in education and future endeavours. Although challenging, staff have shown significant dedication and their hard work is commended.”
The team of five mentors were each asked to answer a question or two about their experiences, read their comments below:
- What motivated you to become a Mosaic mentor?
“The opportunity to work with youngsters to try and make a difference in their lives”. Gordon
“I often hear negative comments made by the media and individuals about the ‘state of today’s youth. I personally think that the younger generation face challenges that I certainly never did as a teenager. I wanted to give a bit of time to the younger generation growing up in Birmingham and help them, even in a small way show how much potential they have and how much they can give back to our communities and society”. Tripp Martin
“I would say that what motivated me to become a Mosaic mentor was the desire to make a difference to just one child’s life”. Debbie Toomeoks
- Please tell us about a particular rewarding or special experience you have had as a Mentor.
“When the groups get involved in activities and make positive contributions – it shows they are benefiting from the opportunity”. T Gordon
“I have seen several of the students who clearly lacked confidence in the first few sessions start to really blossom over the past few weeks. Students who were extremely shy in the beginning have in recent weeks presented confidently in front of the group and in some cases have taken on leadership roles during group tasks”. Tripp Martin
“The first mentoring session at Kingsbury School was a great success! The students were asked to produce an advert for a product called “CONFIDENCE”. They had to find as many words as possible to describe the product, then build the advert around those words and at the end of the session performed it. They showed great ability, creativity and enthusiasm. Even the more reserved students came out of their shells and participated actively. This is what it is all about! Help the youngsters to find out what they are good at and what they can achieve”. Ghyslaine Feunteun-Wicker
- What makes a good mentor?
“Someone who is willing, motivated and wants to work with the students to help build up their confidence”. Gordon
- What have you found challenging about mentoring?
“Being my first involvement in this kind of project, I enjoy being out of my usual routine but it definitely takes me out of my comfort zone and I can appreciate how difficult it can be for some young people. It has been a challenge to come up with ideas that are both useful and enjoyable for the students. Seeing the achievements at the end of the session is really worth the effort”. Ghyslaine Feunteun-Wicker
- Would you recommend being a Mosaic mentor to others and why ?
“I found participating in the Mosaic Mentoring programme a rewarding experience. I enjoyed being a positive role model and would definitely recommend becoming a mentor. I feel that I have learned a lot about myself and that I have also learned a great deal from the students at Kingsbury School and I really hope that the students involved have benefited from the mentoring sessions”. Tara-Sienna Hartman
A very special thanks to a fantastic team of Aston mentors and Mosaic looks forward to working in partnership with the University again.
See our pictures on Flickr.
If you would like to know more about the partnership and how you can support Mosaic’s mentoring programmes in the West Midlands, contact our Regional Manager Annalisa.Lockett@bitc.org.uk.