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22 April 2024

Written by ICA

Spotlight: Being an education mentor

The transition from education to employment can be a daunting one.  A lot of young people face challenges like unemployment, lack of experience, or are simply not sure what direction to take. The Prince's Trust, a youth charity founded by His Majesty King Charles III, is here to help bridge that gap and empower young people.

For over 40 years, The Prince's Trust has been offering young people the support, guidance, and resources they need to thrive. They recognise the unique obstacles young people face in today's world, and through a variety of programs, they equip them with the confidence, skills, and experience to build successful futures.

Lucy Gray who is a valued part of the International Curriculum Association team, took part in The Prince's Trust's Mosaic Mentoring Programme, an initiative designed to connect young people with experienced professionals who can offer invaluable guidance and support. We hear from Lucy about her experience!

1. What initially motivated you to volunteer as a mentor with the Prince's Trust Programme?

I have always held a strong belief in the possibility and importance of social mobility- knowing that if I had met someone I could look up to at a young age, my journey of upward mobility would have been less scary and more efficient/ effective. My primary motivations were to give back, to do something different/ learn something new, and to utilise my unique skills to help others.

2. What did you do to prepare for your first mentoring session?

Preparing for my mentoring session was enjoyable (22  students – 12ish years old)! As an ESOL teacher (in a past life) I was used to creating lesson plans that were high energy and held attention, this helped me to have a clear plan that was easily followed and impactful. It also meant I was comfortable managing a large class and could monitor/ provide feedback effectively. For the content itself, I utilised the Prince’s Trust recommended materials and adjusted these to fit the classroom dynamics and my style. The session itself focused on personal strengths and why these are important – activities included: definition matching, self-assessment, mentor presentations, and more! Key skills focused on: being sensitive, enthusiastic, brave, creative, adaptable, expressive, curious, gentle, generous, adventurous, spontaneous, and kind.

2.  What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a mentor, and how did you overcome them?

When you’re a new teenager and go to a large co-ed school, there are many social barriers to being true to yourself, courageous about yourself and making the most of a new and unfamiliar programme. The biggest challenge I found was the social unfamiliarity and inability to find group consensus among the students. As the students were chosen across the year by multiple different teachers based on their untapped potential - this meant that many of the students didn’t have a relationship with one another and were very socially withdrawn especially in the first half of the programme – all figuring out their place and what they needed to embody in this new situation. Thankfully time improved this, as trust was built with the mentors and other students week-by-week. We were also able to better personalize our lessons to the needs and temperaments of the students, focusing on more individual tasks, and building up to the group activities instead of jumping right in.

4. What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering to mentor?

Making someone feel of value is the name of the game. From this experience, I have realised that the students who get the most out of mentoring are the students who feel seen and know you are interested in them (especially if they haven’t felt like this before). I would recommend having 10+ open questions up your sleeve to facilitate conversation, 100% engagement and a genuine smile.

5.  What do you enjoy the most about mentoring with this program?

It has been a unique opportunity to meet young people and hear about how they interpret and interact with the world. I have enjoyed getting to know the mentees, teachers, and fellow mentors who all come from different backgrounds – policewoman, investment banker, software engineer, and psychology student to name a few. It has been great to expand my knowledge of the world and the others who are sharing it with me, especially knowing that the Prince’s Trust Mosaic Programme is shining a light on the possibility and positivity of tomorrow to the young people who need it.

About: The Prince’s Trust, Mosaic Mentoring Programme:

The Prince's Trust is a leading UK charity founded in 1976 by King Charles III (the then Prince of Wales) and offers vital support for young people aged 11-30 years through multiple initiatives such as the Mosaic Mentoring Programme. The programme itself pairs disadvantaged youth with inspiring mentors, providing guidance and real-world insights together with a focus on employability skills and confidence building. The programme aims to empower students to overcome obstacles, pursue their dreams and reach their potential.

You can find out more about the Prince’s Trust here: