London Met's mentoring programme is transforming the lives of students at the alternative provision school based in Barking and Dagenham, East London.
Date: 30 June 2021
Teachers and students all over the country have had to adjust quickly to remote delivery over the last year. For students that already found mainstream education challenging, the coronavirus pandemic has created yet more obstacles to overcome.
Since 2017, London Metropolitan University has been working with young people at Mayesbrook Park School, an alternative provision school based in Barking and Dagenham, East London. They provide full-time education and support from Years 7 to 11 for 11 to 16-year-olds who have had difficulties with their learning and behaviour in mainstream school.
“When I first met with the staff at Mayesbrook the school did not have a working relationship with any HE institutions,” explains Renzo Veschini, a widening participation officer at London Met who leads on the work with Mayesbrook. “This had to be addressed, and so made them a perfect candidate for our programme. We know that young people can benefit hugely from speaking to positive role-models who open their eyes to a wider range of opportunities.”
One of the mentees at Mayesbrook, ‘J’, has enjoyed being part of the programme: "Dion [London Met PhD candidate, pictured] has helped me peer into the wonderful aspects of science and technology, allowing me to gain a wider understanding of this field, as a result, I can confidently continue studying the subject," they commented.
Dion Mariyanayagam is proud to be helping the next generation of engineers: “J and I have been looking at different engineering aspects such as 3D modelling, Software Engineering and Hardware Engineering.
"I believe mentoring is essential to make the next generation of Engineers even better than the current ones. Engineering aims to provide solutions to the world's problems, putting ego aside and inspiring the next generation about all things science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A better future starts by encouraging them now."
Inspiration and aspiration
Last year Mayesbrook was nominated as ‘alternative provision school of the year’ in the prestigious TES Schools Awards and Suresh Singh, Senior Curriculum Lead Mathematics: Exams Officer at Mayesbrook, believes the mentoring programme played a key role. "London Met’s mentors are now a big part to what we do. Even with the challenges of lockdown they’ve been amazing. Suresh says: Our motto is 'nurturing and empowering our students to make positive choices' and I believe that our relationship with London Metropolitan University and especially this mentoring programme reflects this. The mentors have helped our students to identify possible routes into higher education and even beyond into potential career areas."
Renzo adds: "The key aspect of the mentoring is for our mentors, who are students of London Met, to help the mentees envisage themselves at University, on their way to a great future career. This, while giving them the necessary information in order for the mentees to make informed decisions about their future.
London Met’s outreach team supports schools, colleges and adult learners across London through activities and programmes that promote achievement and progression into higher education.
Our Widening Participation team also runs specific events for students who are/have been in local authority care, are estranged from their families, are young adult carers, have a specific disability or specific learning difficulty, are/have been eligible for free school meals or those of whose parents did not attend university.
Since the start of the mentoring programme with Mayesbrook Park School in 2017, London Metropolitan University has provided 460 contact hours of mentoring. We have also had the pleasure of hosting students of Mayesbrook Park School on Subject Specific Taster Days on campus. “We have really enjoyed showing the students around our campuses and having them learn about specific degree courses from Student Ambassadors from those subject areas. We hope to do more of these events as soon as we’re able.” Renzo Veschini.
Pictured: students from Mayesbrook Park School visiting London Met in 2020
Contact Renzo Veschini if you are interested in developing Widening Participation projects with schools.