Mentoring is the way forward;Letter

25th June 1999 at 01:00
I read your articles on mentoring with great interest (TES, June 4). We have a similar, successful scheme at Salisbury College, Wiltshire, where mentors can gain Open College Network accreditation for their involvement with the initiative, and we are convinced of the real value of this way of working for students and for staff.

The pilot scheme at the college includes staff, students and members of the general public and local business community who have volunteered to act as mentors for mature learners on our Combating Rural Disadvantage Project, funded by the European Social Fund.

So far the mentors, while enjoying free training to help to develop their own strengths and communication skills, have been very successful in offering, enabling, supporting and encouraging students to consider the educational, employment and personal opportunities that are available to them. Such is the confidence in the scheme at Salisbury that students are successfully mentoring other students.

For example, one student enrolled on a counselling course, and a partner in a public relations and advertising company with more than 25 years' business experience, is offering her support to the scheme in order to benefit her fellow students.

Our programme co-ordinator, Heather McIntyre, claims that all of the students involved have benefited from their mentoring experience. The scheme has already proved both its usefulness and effective and it is hoped to widen the scope of the programme next year to incorporate younger full- time students as well.

A mentoring conference is to be held at the college early next year, and we would like to hear from educational institutions in the South who are interested in establishing a regional mentoring programme.

We see this initiative as showing the way forward for much more extensive use of mentoring for a range of different aspects of the college's work.

Sally Dunn Research and European co-ordinator Salisbury College Southampton Road Salisbury Wiltshire

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