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Learning is a process of weaving together different strands of skills to create strong 'skills ropes'. Our volunteer mentors help pupils strengthen and intertwine those strands - social, emotional and academic - for success in and out of school.

Weaving skills together

We all pull together strands of various skills to solve problems, work with others, formulate and express our ideas and learn from mistakes. We continuously weave academic or 'cognitive' skills with social and emotional skills, such as self-management or conflict resolution. The more strands we weave together, the stronger the rope becomes.

An active process

Just as ropes don’t weave themselves, learning requires action to take place, but some pupils simply don't know where to start - they are disengaged from the process. That is when our volunteers weave their magic.

M’s story

M, a Year 8 pupil, wasn’t originally allocated to a City Year focus list. It was only when a volunteer mentor noticed him, that he was added to her list. He was eligible for the pupil premium, diagnosed with special educational needs and had a poor record of behaviour but his ‘City Year’ believed he was academically able – it was just his behaviour and attitude that were holding him back.

Over time, M’s volunteer mentor discovered he was curious about the world. He started to talk about the way things made him feel. She would check in with him regularly, to find out how his day was going, give him the chance to discuss any issues that had come up and ‘put out fires’ before they started.

By the third term, although M was still getting into trouble, he was more likely to walk away from a fight. Teachers started to notice the difference: “His empathy has clearly increased since working with City Year. He’s more aware of when he’s irritating or upsetting someone and is much quicker to reflect and alter his behaviour.” Another added: “When his City Year is in lessons with him, M is much more focused, he doesn’t drift off or become distracted by other pupils. His City Year is very firm with him and gets him to produce good quality work, but when she is not there, M has also shown some improvement. He is less disruptive and more focused than he was at the start of the year.”

Over just three terms, M’s incidents of bad behaviour more than halved from 33 to 12 and his attendance steadily increased up to 100%. At the beginning of the year his reading age was measured at just 8.09, more than four years below his actual age. When it was tested again, it was up to 11 – an improvement of almost three years.

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