A leading psychotherapist has called for "learning mentors" to be introduced in Scottish schools.
Elizabeth Morris, principal of the School of Emotional Literacy, claimed the scheme was one of the most successful ways to teach youngsters how to be emotionally literate - how to handle their feelings and interact with others. "I can't recommend the learning mentors concept highly enough," said Dr Morris, speaking at the School of Emotional Literacy's third annual conference in Edinburgh last week.
Learning mentors were introduced in England in 1999 as a means of supporting inner-city schools in challenging circumstances: extreme social deprivation, high unemployment, and inadequate parenting. The mentors support individual pupils and small groups to manage their anger, cope with transitions and improve attendance, motivation, confidence, empathy and social and study skills.
Thanet in Kent has five secondaries and nine primaries and has more than 70 mentors. Jenny Moorhouse, who heads the scheme, said: "After the breakfast club, they might work with a group on learning or behaviour targets. At breaks, they'll work with pupils on social skills and after school they might run homework and learning clubs."
An Ofsted report in 2003 said of 95 per cent of schools surveyed, the programme "had a beneficial effect on the behaviour of individual pupils and on their ability to learn and make progress".