New Latymerians find Peer Mentoring ‘Buddy’ scheme ‘an amazing experience’

Starting a new school is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for our Year 7 pupils. To help them settle into school life, Latymer Upper ensures a peer mentor team of 46 Year 10, Year 11 and Sixth Form students are on hand to support and care. From the moment a new pupil walks through door for the June induction evening they are warmly welcomed by the peer mentors. Each new Year 7 recruit is allocated a peer mentor ‘buddy’ who they meet in small buddy family groups once a fortnight. It’s a wonderful scheme which really helps our Year 7s enjoy a smooth transition to secondary school.

Every lunchtime, peer mentors on ‘roving duties’ keep a weather-eye on their young charges and offer a drop-in lunchtime listening service twice a week. Year 7 pupils may also choose to see their peer mentors on a one-to-one basis, if needed. Everything is done to ensure our pupils feel supported by staff and pupils alike. As one Year 8 remembers: “My peer mentor really helped me to settle into Latymer. It was like having a big sister in the Upper School who was always there for me.” A Year 7 said: “It’s an amazing experience and has helped me enormously.”

And it’s not only the new Latymerians who benefit from the peer mentoring scheme. The buddies themselves gain enormous satisfaction from helping their younger fellow pupils, as well as gaining experience and life-enhancing new skills. All peer mentors complete an intensive training programme which includes listening, mentoring and introductory coaching skills alongside information sessions regarding mental health first aid, safeguarding and academic mentoring. A team of Latymer staff support the scheme so the peer mentors also benefit from their own unique support system. The selection procedure and training programme is rigorous and requires emotional intelligence and good listening and communication skills – all of which will stand them in good stead for life outside of school.

As one peer mentor buddy from the upper sixth says: “I have loved getting to know the Year 7s on a one-to-one basis. They have such a fresh and different perspective on everything at Latymer and one of the highlights of my week is chatting about everything and anything in our buddying sessions. I love being stopped in the corridor by my buddies, past and present, to hear about their achievements and how they are making their way through Latymer life.”

Another from the lower sixth describes the buddy experience: “Since becoming a Peer Mentor I have learned an incredible amount of important skills in such a short space of time. Helping other students in this way is not only a great way of strengthening the embracing, supportive ethos at Latymer, but also a way of encouraging students to have a love of life and self-confidence which are aspects that the school nurtures from the very first day. The remarkable thing is, is that these skills will not only be useful during my time in the school as a Peer Mentor, but for the rest of my life, and I am thoroughly grateful for that.”

We’re grateful to all our peer mentor buddies for giving their time, energy and expertise to this fantastic cause.

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David Goodhew@LatymerHead

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