Every year, a group of Year 8 students apply to become part of Longhill’s Peer Mentor Programme, which aims to help nominated primary school children with their transition into life at senior school. This year has seen a bumper crop of students wanting to join the programme and a record 27 have been offered a coveted place.
Once fully trained, the peer mentors will have one or two primary children paired with them, depending on the mentors themselves and the children who need assistance. Jill Robson, who runs the Peer Mentor Programme told us, “Some of the mentors are the high flyers who have lots of support at home, but some of my mentors don’t. They have made their own decision that they would like to help someone else and that is their motivation – it’s a real desire to help others.”
When the new intake starts at Longhill next September, some of them may only need help for a few weeks, some for much longer. The Peer Mentors will be working with them in the summer term before they come to Longhill, in conjunction with the Transition Team, who are practised at picking up on anyone who needs help. Each primary school can refer up to 6 children for peer mentoring.
“Being a Peer mentor is like a job.” Jill explained. “They have to fill in an application form, then be interviewed by the current peer mentors and we all decide together. The current peer mentors are very stringent in their requirements, as they know first-hand what the position entails.”
The new recruits are just embarking on their six week training course and some of this year’s successful applicants told us why they wanted to become Peer Mentors:
“I feel empathy for other people, for what they’re going through and want to help them with that. I want them to know they’ve got a secure friend and mentor around them.” – Imogen, Woodingdean Primary School
“I don’t want the new children to feel left out; I want them to feel welcome and not afraid to ask questions, not to feel shy or scared.” – Rachel, St. Luke’s Primary School
“I wanted to be a Peer Mentor so that, if children have any questions or worries, I could help them. I feel like we’re going to have a good time being Peer Mentors.” Gerry – Rudyard Kipling Primary School
“I wanted to be a Peer Mentor because I didn’t want the new children to feel scared or worried – I wanted to help them. I could give them advice on things like what clubs and activities there are to do in school.” Immen – Rudyard Kipling Primary School