creative mentoring for children and young people aged 4-16

Did you know that the educational attainment of Children in Care is much lower than for other pupils? With 5820 Children in Care (March 2019) in the East Midlands, the ‘attainment gap’ in reaching expected standards is approximately 25-30% at KS1 (aged 7) and KS2 (aged 11), and 25% at KS4 (aged 16).

But despite an increased focus on the outcomes of this group at a regional level, the gap between the outcomes of Children in Care and those of their peers has not decreased.

Children and young people that we work with are referred into the care of a Local Authority having experienced some degree of loss or trauma, either by virtue of their home circumstance (for example neglect and abuse), or through secondary factors (for example separation, loss or bereavement). This loss and/or trauma affects their engagement in school and learning, depending on their personal resources and degree of resilience to manage.

These result in CYP with:

  • very poor attendance in mainstream education, missing school across multiple years
  • limited experience of healthy relationships and socially isolated
  • perceptions of being different and wanting to fit in
  • feelings of shame and alienation in school and communities
  • low levels of resilience to manage challenge
  • poor impulse control and high levels of anger
  • low self-esteem and vulnerability to grooming
  • difficulty in regulating emotions
  • seek attention often through risky/illegal behaviour
  • seek reward through the manifestation of addictive behaviours
  • have limited experience of family life, positive relationships and opportunities to contribute to communities
  • a lack of ability to understand and critique their own values and those around them resulting in a poor sense of their own personal moral compass.

To address this, we deliver one-to-one Creative Mentoring for some of the most vulnerable CYP in care (5-16) across the region.

Our service is managed by our Youth Programme Manager and Coordinator team, through a referral system, mostly from schools, but also through social workers, care staff and education support officers who know the children and are aware of the service. The objective of the service is to support wellbeing through a creative and personalised learning journey, leading to re-engagement with education, peers and society as a whole.

Briefed jointly by social care professionals and schools, the service team matches Creative Mentors to individual CYP, refocusing efforts away from ‘improving behaviour’ to identifying what it is the young person needs to help them become ‘unstuck’, and to build their skills, confidence and competencies to support reengagement. Our work in this ‘virtual education space’ supports engagement and participation by building a personalised, unique, one-to-one provision around the child.

The Creative Mentor will use sessions to get to know the young person and where to initiate one-to-one creative activity. Working with the child is always practical, using a range of different tools (for example film, drama, music, poetry, photography and stories) to help young people safely explore the world around them, learn new skills, communicate with others and address personal and emotional issues from a ‘creative distance’.

Between 2020 and 2022, we have over 100 funded opportunities to work with children and young people aged 4-15 years old, which will provide up to 26 weeks of personal development, mentoring and skills development provision. This will focus on developing creative practice to build confidence and improving educational attainment, communication and relationship building skills.

Creative Mentoring with this age group focuses on the following differences:

1. Children in care will develop skills to make a successful transition back to into education and society.

Mentoring will provide Essential Skills, improving lives through nurturing, empowering and inspiring them through creative experiences. Children we work with will be supported to become successful learners, responsible citizens, creative thinkers and reflective individuals.

2. Children in care will be better able to solve problems and respond to challenges.

We support children to be positively empowered and strengthen their self-belief, leading to a greater sense of self control and confidence to re-engage in education.

3. Children in care will have improved relationships with their community of peers, carers and teachers with increased sense of belonging.

They will develop positive relationships to overcome challenges of COVID19 and develop life skills to help them navigate the post pandemic world.