Focused mentoring is a strategy for raising the aspirations of disadvantaged young people. Today I had the pleasure of going along to the newly-established Oasis Academy in Lambeth to see a coaching session in action organised by Future Frontiers for under-achieving Year 7 students. Future Frontiers was set up by Dominic Baker, a graduate recruitment officer working with Teach First, to motivate and empower young people in deprived areas. The coaches are all undergraduates from local universities and they work with two Year 7 students for one hour per week over eight sessions. The programme they follow includes diagnosing students’ needs, exploring different careers, interviewing people doing the jobs they are interested in (using Skype) and making plans. In the session I observed, students and their coaches talked about the relevance of English, maths and science to the careers the students were interested in and planned the questions they would like to ask the people they will be interviewing next week. The students were completely absorbed in the activities and were clearly enjoying the relationship they have with their coaches. Kajal, one of the coaches, told me that she had already noticed a difference in her two students. They were developing more realistic aspirations and their sense of personal agency was increasing. Dominic has been talking to experts in the careers field and using proven careers resources to build the coaching programme as well as networking extensively to involve more schools and increase the range of employers with whom he can connect students! Congratulations to Dominic on getting this venture off the ground and a big thank you to the undergraduate volunteers.
The photo shows Dominic (second from the left) with three coaches: Sara, Kajal and Jack. For more information, have a look on the Future Frontiers website