Practitioner Enquiry

Ann Horsley, Assistant Director of Personalised Learning

‘Using Assertive Academic Mentoring to support vulnerable students’



The Assertive Mentoring programme was first developed at Hurwith secondary school in the North East and proved highly effective in substantially raising the attainment of students. The main feature of the programme is that Mentoring is ASSERTIVE- not SOFT ie the emphasis is on academic progress and practical strategies to promote improvement- ‘excuses’ are not tolerated. Meetings are target driven- based on tracking data. The challenge for me was to find out whether it could be adapted for use in a post-16 institution.

Key Actions:

·       Set up team of Mentors drawn from senior college staff- train in principles of the programme

·       Ask Tutors to recommend suitable candidates, then pair up Mentors and Mentees

·       Mentors/Mentees to meet weekly and use Cristalweb review data and teacher feedback to inform meetings and set targets

·       Mentors to meet regularly for reflection and to agree modifications to programme

Preliminary findings:

·       Time planning strategies working

·       Students give positive feedback

·       Small performance improvement noted in some cases

·       Students sense of achievement in minor triumphs

·       Attendance- students fail to turn up (exacerbated by snow around Christmas)

·       Students lie/stretch truth/tell half truth etc and give varying versions of events to different teachers

·       Data doesn’t always correspond with teachers’ expressed views- reluctance to be honest (?), and the review data is not updated often enough

·       Referrals are flawed:

1.     Entrenched habits- students are referred when they already have a long history of difficulty.

2.     Tutors refer students who agree to the programme- however, ‘agreement’ may be rather co-erced!

3.     Some students seem to have overwhelming/emotional/health difficulties which are beyond the remit of the programme



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