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Tuesday, September 8, 1998 Published at 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK


Mentoring boost

The good example of adults can prevent truancy

Mentoring projects which give young people positive adult role models are to receive extra government funding.

The Schools Minister Charles Clarke has announced that his department's National Mentoring Bursary Programme will support 19 projects in England, particularly focusing on schemes which seek to re-motivate underachieving pupils.

[ image: Charles Clarke:
Charles Clarke: "Tremendous potential"
"Mentoring can be of tremendous help in supporting people of all ages in their education and training," said Charles Clarke.

"But I am particularly interested to see how programmes can be developed which support young people in schools, to help motivate and inspire them to learn and to raise their aspirations.

"For those young people who need that bit of extra support to get the most from their schooling it can make a real difference."

Preventing exclusions

The projects to be supported are spread across England, including such local initiatives in the north west as the Bolton Lads and Girls Club's project to give persistent truants a more positive example and a scheme to support the children of travellers in Tameside.

On Merseyside, there will be funding for the creation of a project for children with behavioural difficulties at risk of exclusion, modelled on the success of a project in inner-city Birmingham, the Zacchaeus Centre, which has a success rate of 80% in preventing exclusions.

In the Midlands, a Nottingham project is seeking to recruit mentors from the black community, particularly black-led churches, with the aim of supporting black secondary school pupils at risk of exclusion.

Among the four schemes supported in London, the North London Mentor Trust will be funded to share the experiences of successful black academics and professionals with younger members of the black community.

Alternative routes

In the West Midlands, an "Alternative Routes" scheme is to be supported, providing the advice of adult mentors to teenagers losing their way in school.

The Welsh Office is to provide funding for a project in Cardiff that uses older children as mentors for younger pupils, in an attempt to ease the transition between primary and secondary schools.

The success or failure of these local projects will be considered for more widespread application, the minister said.

"All these individual projects have tremendous potential. I am equally pleased that these initiatives will be evaluated not just individually, but nationally too, enabling best practice to be adopted."

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