Bridging Policy with Practice

Transforming practice with effective policy to support care-experienced young people to realise their full potential

Learn more about our vision

Policy that Makes a Difference

Mentoring has a significant positive impact on children and young people who receive it, with evidence that it can improve educational attainment. Schools must also be supported to encourage and develop mentoring relationships for those who would benefit.

Independent Care Review, 2020

MCR Pathways is dedicated to eliminating the education, job choices, and life chances gap that exits between care-experienced young people and their peers. We know that all young people are talented, but instability and severe disruptions at home make it massively more challenging for young people in or on the edge of the care system to succeed.

A large body of evidence shows that MCR mentoring is radically transforming educational outcomes for our nation’s most disadvantaged. Our aim is to reach every care-experienced young person across the country with our programme and provide them with the tools and support they need.

The Government is now being called on to simply make MCR mentoring a permanent feature of the education system and a right for every care-experienced pupil. The Care Review has emphasised the necessity of incorporating education, third sector and other caring adults into the reformed structure of the nation’s Care System and mentoring is an essential part of this delivery.

Make Mentoring a Right

We believe that school-based, MCR mentoring should be a right for all care-experienced young people. This should be backed by policy and a permanent part of the education system.

Corporate Parents as just Parents

We believe that Corporate Parents should just think and act as good parents: individually and with unconditional care. We should now drop the word ‘corporate’. Education is the route to success and there is no better way than to support and mentor a young person. 

Redefine Widening Access

We believe “widening access” needs to be wider and younger.  To best support care-experienced young people, colleges and universities should work directly with pupils and mentor them in schools. 

Evidencing the Impact

Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care

This article, written by our founder Dr. Iain MacRitchie, describes his vision for the future of Care policy. 

We believe those with experience of the care system should lead, and that the definitions of corporate parenting and widening access must be broadened.

ScotCen Independent MCR Evaluation

Report by ScotCen (the Scottish arm of NatCen, Britain’s largest independent social research agency) and Robertson Trust. 

This 3 year, independently produced, study used internationally renowned methodology and shows the statistically significant impact of MCR Pathways’ programme on care-experienced young people’s education outcomes.

Social & Economic Impact of mentoring

We conducted a report to investigate the commercial, economic and social impact of MCR mentoring. 

The report shows how mentoring positively impacts employers and how it can be an essential tool for staff and personal development.

Experts Share Power of MCR Mentoring

Joseph Rowntree Foundation - Achieving inclusive growth for Scotland - Picture date Tuesday 27 June, 2017 (Glasgow, Glasgow City) 
Photo credit should read: Jonathan Pow/

"MCR Pathways stands out as a youth mentoring programme in its scale and focus. We now know that the impact it is having for care-experienced young people in staying on at school, gaining qualifications and moving on to further study, work or training is significant. The difference it is making exceeds many programmes in other countries subject to the same kind of quality evaluation. MCR Pathways is clearly of international significance to youth mentoring.

The evaluation is high quality and thorough, and identifies really strong impacts. The most extensive meta-review which the authors cite shows consistent, positive but more modest impacts averaged across many youth mentoring programmes in the USA where there has been much more investment in higher quality evaluation than in the UK. MCR Pathways impacts look to be among the most significant by comparison and this study adds hugely to our knowledge base for Scotland and the UK.”

Dr Jim McCormick
Associate Director for Scotland Joseph Rowntree Foundation & Churchill Fellow researching youth mentoring programmes internationally
Fiona Duncan

"Since February 2017, [The Care Review] has heard over 5,500 stories with over half of the voices being children and young people with experience of the ‘care system’, as well as adults who had lived in care, and lots of different types of families. It was their stories that guided the Care Review.

The Care Review heard from children and young people about the positive impact that mentoring had had on them. They talked about having someone who spent time with them developing a relationship, listening and supporting them to make choices. In particular when mentoring takes place in schools, there is evidence that it can improve educational attainment, reduce stigma and encourage those that may not have considered it, to take up a mentoring relationship."

Fiona Duncan
Chair of the Independent Care Review
The Scotsman

"The MCR mentoring programme is making a profound difference to the life-chances of our young people and making it permanent is now critical. We are hugely encouraged by recommendations around relationship-based practice in the Independent Care Review. We just want to reach every care experienced young person across the country and ensure the support is there for them is guaranteed. It is within our gift to make this happen across the country now.

As the recent independent evaluation by ScotCen shows, MCR’s mentors have a statistically striking and world-leading impact on their young person’s decision to stay on at school, the qualifications they gain and their ability to go on to college, university or employment. Mentoring matters to both education outcomes and confidence and wellbeing. This is creating changes that will last generations.

MCR is expanding across the country and determined to reach 5,000 young people being supported each week. All we simply ask for is the Care Review recommendations to be implemented and for MCR to be a cornerstone of ensuring there is an equality of education outcomes, job choices and life chances. Glasgow have already embedded the MCR model and shown this can be done very effectively."

Dr. Iain MacRitchie
Founder and CEO, MCR Pathways

"The magic of the MCR Pathways approach is in the simplicity of the concept and the scale of the ambition. Engaging volunteer mentors to provide support and advice has transformed the lives of these young people and could transform thousands of others if adopted elsewhere.

Young people in the 'care' of the state have had a raw deal for far too long. The state has failed to give them the support they need. This model - recognising the value of every individual and engaging individuals to help - is remarkably successful and the statistics prove the impact it has had.

For far too long people have written off these teenagers as 'beyond help' or 'too difficult'. Providing individual volunteer mentors has changed young lives and proves that something can be done. We need to support the MCR Pathways' model so that every teenager in care in Scotland has the individual support that can help them deal with problems and be ready for the world beyond school."

Lord McConnell
former First Minister for Scotland

“MCR Pathways is now undoubtedly proven as an intervention that has an unquestionable positive social and economic impact.

This truly supports the most vulnerable young people moving them forward towards a positive destination. We now need to work together across Scotland to embed this approach; collaborate to consolidate significant positive outcomes for Scotland’s young people.”

Sir Tom Hunter
Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
Annemarie Odonnell

“To me, as corporate parent to every vulnerable child and young person in our city, the only thing that matters is that we do everything in our collective power to nurture, support and create opportunities that will help them flourish. The research is clear in demonstrating our mentored young people are staying in school longer and achieving more qualifications leading to increased options for work, further and higher education. This will unequivocally improve the life chances of these young people.

What’s also important to me is the impact MCR mentoring has had on council staff. In 2017 I announced our intention to encourage 10% of our workforce to become involved in either mentoring or talent tasters and I’m delighted that so many have signed up to this vocational commitment.

What’s also apparent is the measurable benefits to the mentors. Of course this programme is all about the needs of the young people, however there must also be added value to the volunteers taking part. We are seeing a strengthening of personal development, resilience and a positive impact on health and well-being, but also enhanced training opportunities on offer including a partnership with the University of Strathclyde business school to deliver an accredited leadership training course."

Annemarie O'Donnell
Chief Executive Glasgow City Council

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