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Sixth years' caring side recognised by HMIE

A peer-mentoring scheme for pupils with additional support needs at Gryffe High, Renfrewshire, has been highlighted as an example of good practice in a recent HMIE report.

It says the system reduced difficulties caused by disruptive behaviour and helped pupils feel safer. There were also signs of improving achievement among S1-2s with more significant support needs.

The scheme was set up by support for learning staff to help S1-2 pupils with difficulties to develop confidence and increase their opportunities for becoming successful. Sixth-year pupils were invited to become mentors and given training by learning support staff. Forty-nine volunteered as readers and scribes for assessments and 51 supported class work across a range of subjects. Senior students also worked as reading partners with younger pupils and some gave more intense mentoring for individuals with more specific needs.

Benefits were felt in classes supported by seniors and younger pupils identified role models they could relate to among the older students. The scheme also meant issues concerning more vulnerable pupils were identified more quickly.

The report highlights that S6 volunteers were eligible for a Millennium Award for contributing to the school's positive ethos and that they demonstrated skills as responsible citizens and effective contributors.

Headteacher John Watson was delighted by the inspectors' recognition of their work and paid tribute to learning assistant Elaine Scally who has taken a leading role in managing the scheme which attracts around 60 per cent of S6 students. "The sixth years love what they are doing and the younger children are very positive about it. We have a number of sixth years who move onto careers working with children, so this is good for their CV's - that they have been doing this work."

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