Life-changing mentoring programme keeps children in school for longer

The Herald and Sunday Herald

Published by The Herald Scotland

Written by: Catriona Stewart

A MENTORING programme for care experienced young people is keeping pupils in school for longer, helping them gain additional qualifications and helping them go on to university, according to new research.

A three-year study into the impact of MCR Pathways, which was founded in Glasgow’s secondary schools, shows a dramatic impact of education outcomes for Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people.

Now a call has been made for relationship based mentoring to be offered to every child from a care background in Scotland.

MCR Pathways Founder Iain MacRitchie said: “We are inspired and humbled by the findings which prove the profound impact of relationship-based mentoring on education outcomes and life-chances of our young people.

“In addition to the education outcomes, the report also underlines additional major benefits in improved school attendance, confidence, aspirations and the key components of good mental health and well-being.

“As a mentor with firsthand experience, I simply ask that MCR is made a permanent feature of our education system.”

The scheme works by pairing a school pupil with a dedicated mentor who will meet with them to give advice and support.

Figures collated by Scotcen, the Scottish arm of Britain’s largest independent social research agency, show significant differences between the outcomes for young people with a mentor and those without.

Findings include an average 25.3 percentage point increase in the number of care-experienced young people progressing to university, college or a job. The attainment gap was closed on the measure of those achieving one or more qualifications at National 5, showing a peak 30.4 percentage point improvement and an average 21 percentage point improvement from 66.8 per cent to 87.8 per cent. This was almost on par with the overall results for all young people which stood at 89.2 per cent on a like for like basis.

Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health and former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, said,

“MCR Pathways is clearly changing the lives of disadvantaged children, but their work is also immensely beneficial to Scotland in many other ways.”

Other standout figures show that 70.7 per cent of MCR mentored pupils continued their education in S5, compared to 60.1 per cent of those non-mentored care-experienced young people.

Some 87.8 per cent achieved at least 1 SCQF Level 5 qualification, a higher proportion than the 66.8 per cent non-mentored care-experienced pupils.

Figures also show 81.6 per cent of mentored pupils went on to college, university or a job, compared with 56.3 per cent of those who were not mentored.

While Sir Tom Hunter, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist said: “MCR Pathways is now undoubtedly proven as an intervention that has unquestionable positive social and economic impact. We now need to work together across Scotland to embed this approach; collaborate to consolidate significant positive outcomes for Scotland’s young people.”

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