Sheffield Hallam graduates to mentor pupils as part of government’s catch-up plan

The graduates will train as mentors, before being deployed to help pupils catch up on lost learning during school closures

Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) have unveiled their plans for a graduate taskforce to support the government’s Covid-19 catch-up plan for schoolchildren.

The government announced today (19 June) it would spend £1billion on a catch-up plan to prevent England’s school-age children and young people falling behind due to school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The new SHU/NPP initiative, called GROW, is currently recruiting graduates to act as mentors to incoming year Y11 pupils in South Yorkshire, helping them “to re-engage with their studies, navigate the transition back to full time school and help pupils see the benefits of doing so”, with a focus on disadvantaged pupils who are in danger of falling behind.

A pilot will begin in some local schools in July, and it is hoped the programme will be rolled out across more schools in South Yorkshire for September.

Being a mentor will provide an outstanding chance to upskill at a time when opportunities are limited, and some could even be inspired to go into teaching as a career – Conor Moss

“Our ground-breaking plan will harness the power of Sheffield Hallam graduates and boost the national effort to support young people, whose education has been unfairly curtailed by Covid-19 through no fault of their own,” said Conor Moss, dean of work-based learning at Sheffield Hallam University.

“This taskforce will act as mentors and role-models, helping pupils to get back in the classroom and succeed after such a long layoff.

“By working in close contact with schools they will offer a broad range of support, including developing positive habits of work and learning, as well as wellbeing and careers advice.

Conor Moss, Sheffield Hallam University

“But the programme will also have a positive effect on our graduates, who themselves face a challenging jobs market due to Covid-19. Being a mentor will provide an outstanding chance to upskill at a time when opportunities are limited, and some could even be inspired to go into teaching as a career.”

Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison said: “The disadvantage gap affects many Northern communities hardest, and if we are to give the chance of a better future to those who have faced the greatest barriers with no access to a laptop, internet connection at home or pens and paper to learn, then our teachers need extra support.

“Northern universities, including Sheffield Hallam, have already established a mentoring programme to enable those graduates from some of our most disadvantaged communities to contribute to this effort. Alongside the Tutor Trust, the North of England needs to pull together, and we will be calling upon the government to ensure we have the capacity we need locally in all our communities to avoid schools not having the choice of locally delivered, high quality support.”

Sheffield Hallam University became a Northern Powerhouse partner in 2017, joining a number of organisations in the north of England to work to supporting economic growth in the region.

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