One aspect of support for the new Year 7 boys arriving in West Derby in September is the annual setting up of a peer mentoring system. The school staff nominate a group of twenty Year 9 students who they feel would be perfect for the role of Peer Mentor. The ideal qualities of a Peer Mentor include being a good listener, a good communicator, friendly, honest, reliable, trustworthy, easy to talk to, confident and organised.
The students are then invited to take up the role and with the consent of parents and carers they attend meetings in the Pupil Support Centre in which they are trained in the necessary skills and what the role entails is fully discussed. The Peer Mentors learn about Listening and Communication Skills, how to ask useful questions, the importance of being trustworthy and the importance of keeping information private (but also knowing that if there is a safeguarding concern, they may need to disclose information to a member of staff). The Peer Mentors are given a distinctive Peer Mentor Badge which they wear with pride.
The role of Peer Mentor is essentially to help the new Year 7 students settle well into school and make new friends. The Peer Mentors help younger students with a number of issues, for example, worries about school, making friends, finding their way around the school and their timetable. A Peer Mentor is a point of contact, other than an adult, who is a ‘friendly face’, somebody who the Year 7 pupils can rely upon to alleviate their concerns about starting secondary school and to answer any questions they may have about school.
The role involves some time commitment from the Peer Mentors, including attendance at a number of parent meetings including the year 7 Intake Evening in July, the year 7 only day at the start of term in September and the Open Evening in September. Peer Mentors then go into the year 7 tutor groups during form time one morning per week for the whole of the Autumn Term, to support the students and answer any of their questions or concerns.