The Power of Progression (Chapter 2)

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derbyshire-virtual-school-open-evening-russian-dollsDerbyshire’s Virtual School has the foresight and the courage to put their money and their people where their mouth is – and if anyone’s shouting out for the most vulnerable young people in our society you can be sure UFA wants to be there alongside. When Kim Johnson (AHT) and I planned a framework for a sustainable, youth-led roll out for Peer Tutoring we anticipated much impact on the young people involved and the staff who would support them. Even I have been surprised though at some of the outcomes.
Four of the initial cohort of Peer Tutors chose to step up to become Lead Peer Tutors in the recent rollout to Cohort 2. This involves leading on promoting, training and coaching the new Peer Tutors, with the support of me from UFA National and Education Support Officers (ESO) and a Creative Mentor from the Virtual School, most of whom have been trained by UFA as Lead Practitioners in Peer Tutoring.

The Lead Peer Tutors ably led an Open Evening to persuade and inform invitees from across the county to sign up for the programme: all those who attended signed up, despite exhibiting a range of shyness, disengaged/rude behaviour, very low confidence and disbelief in their own suitability for the role. They were persuaded by the effusiveness of the Lead Peer Tutors in their praise of the impact of the programme on their:

  • Confidence and understanding of their strengths
  • Social skills and ability to work as part of a team
  • Engagement and progress in the subjects they chose to Tutor younger peers in
  • Sense of place in the world and the positive contribution they could make
  • Awareness of their own choices in behaviour
  • Ability to make a positive difference to others
  • Pride in seeing progress made by their tutees
  • Relationships with staff involved in supporting them
  • Leadership skills including communication, public speaking, planning, organisation of time and resources, leading others.

Here’s the data demonstrating that change across the cohort pulled from our evaluation questionnaires:

  • Resilience up 28%
  • Resourcefulness up 41%
  • Reciprocity up 16%
  • Individual improvement ranged from 20-80%

Bearing in mind these Lead Peer Tutors first met the UFA in January this year and exhibited the exact same range of avoidant tactics (and were able to say so to the fresh recruits!) Oh how I love it when I don’t have to be the one standing up there trying to convince recalcitrant young people of their innate wonderfulness that’s buried under layers of armour! When I can ‘Blue Peter’ style say – “here’s one I made earlier”.
They ran the two-day training for the new cohort, with my support and that of the Virtual School team, at a residential over the October half term holiday. Their presence and confidence was a remarkable sight to behold; they received coaching feedback well and improved over the two days in their ability to manage their own and their delegates’ variation in energy and focus. Evaluation surveys from the new Peer Tutors reveal how well the training worked for them:

  • 80% say they really believe the training has made them a better learner
  • 75% say it taught them how to be more organised to get things done
  • 60% say it improved their confidence to communicate their ideas to others
  • 60% say it improved their ability to set goals and make plans

“I have learnt that I am more confident than I think and that I shouldn’t doubt myself so much as I can come up with good ideas when I focus and put my mind to it.” Y9 Peer Tutor

“I have learnt from the training I shouldn’t give up on myself” Y10 Peer Tutor

One of the key ESO’s, Stephanie Smith, told us this about what she’s experienced:

I volunteered to support the first cohort of young people with little knowledge of what impact Pere Tutoring would have. I have watched a group of young people grow in confidence and resilience. I have seen the bond grow stronger each time they have come together; I have glowed with pride at their individual and group achievements.
As we enter into a new journey with a second cohort, the shy quiet unregulated young people who sat in front of us last year are now articulate, confident and enthusiastic, standing in front of this year’s candidates. I find myself looking on in wonder at the change that UFA has encouraged and nurtured in our young people. I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful project.confidence-quote

Key in this intervention was gathering a multi-faceted team of people to keep the wagons rolling; Sara Giddens, Virtual School Creative Mentor kept the wheels oiled throughout:

It is perhaps obvious to say – but it is the collaboration, this way of partnership working that is so special and marked. What I find so significant – is that we are working to everyone’s strengths to support and facilitate the young people to reach their potential. This has been my most moving and significant work of the year! VERY hard and intense work … but SO, SO rewarding.

This is what I love about the UFA approach – we aim to develop EVERYONE we work with, no matter their age or starting point; we want to leave people and organisations better than when we arrived; clearer about their purpose and their ability to reach it; stronger in their assessment of where they are, what they’ve achieved and where they want to go next. Now that’s progress I buy into!
“The most important thing I have learnt from Peer Tutoring is that if you work as a team you can accomplish a lot.” Y10 Peer Tutor

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