Rachael Kirkup is a qualified lawyer working at BPP – a private university specialising in law, business, finance and accountancy. She co-ordinates the Law School’s student-led pro bono projects across the North West of England.
A number of BPP students had previously participated in Mosaic’s Enterprise Challenge programme, but after hearing about the impact of Mosaic’s Primary School programme on local communities, Rachael decided to get involved.
She said: “I attended a comprehensive school in Rotherham and have gone on to achieve a university degree and a successful career as a lawyer. I felt that I might potentially be a good role model for young girls to inspire them to achieve their dreams.”
Rachael attended mentor training with Mosaic and following this worked alongside four other mentors to support a small group of Year 5 and Year 6 girls at Oswald Road Primary School in Manchester. The mentoring programme lasted eight weeks, with sessions taking place every Friday afternoon.
Rachael said: “It was lovely to get to know the girls and hear them articulate their interests and dreams. In the beginning, some of the girls were shy in answering questions but over the course of the programme, you could really see them grow in confidence.
“Some of the girls held gender stereotypes – for example, that women only needed to learn how to cook and clean. I think it was very helpful to have a number of mentors in the room, all from different backgrounds and cultures, to challenge this. We were able to show the pupils that girls from all walks of life can pursue a professional career when they’re older.”
The mentoring programme culminated in a special graduation ceremony at Manchester Metropolitan University, which saw each of the girls deliver a presentation and receive certificates to celebrate their achievement.
Rachael commented: “I was very proud of the presentations the girls delivered on the graduation day and the whole experience has given me a strong impression that mentoring programmes can have a positive impact on children and their aspirations.”
Since the graduation ceremony, Rachael has re-visited Oswald Road Primary School and delivered a lesson to the pupils on law. BPP aims to continue supporting the programme and Rachael is also promoting the opportunity to mentor to BPP’s law students.
Rachael added: “If you become a mentor with Mosaic, you’ll meet some fantastic children and the experience will really help develop your communication and interpersonal skills. But most importantly of all, you can make a positive impact on the dreams and aspirations of pupils and potentially change their lives.”