‘Creative Mentoring’ was pioneered by Derbyshire Virtual School’s, a model and approach to working with looked after young people who struggle to engage in education – or who are at risk of exclusion or disaffection.
A creative mentor is commissioned to work with the young person and is briefed jointly by social care professionals and schools. They get to know the individual and introduce creative activities such as film, drama, music, poetry, photography and stories to help them safely explore the world around them, learn new skills, communicate, and address personal and emotional issues from an artistic distance.
Creative Mentors are freelance creative professionals with experience of working with children and young people as creative agents for change in young lives. They are employed by The Mighty Creatives on a sessional basis using income from grant awards and/or Pupil Premium Plus funding through Virtual Schools across the region.
Activities take place at home, in school or in the community over varying lengths of time, depending on the specific learning targets. The mentor is encouraged to get involved and learn new skills alongside the young person, which has proved to be a powerful way to build stronger relationships.
Activities are planned collaboratively with the young person alongside their supporting adults. The Creative Mentor identifies personalised pathways for progression. The social and emotional development of the young person is carefully nurtured, enabling them to develop their interests, engage fully in education and focus on their ambitions.
A Creative Mentor works in the ‘Third Space’. This is a person-centred, informal, and reflective ‘space’ where creative practitioners build trusted relationships using creative practice to refocus efforts away from negative preconceptions of education. This helps to identify what it is a young person needs to help them become ‘unstuck’.
Creative activity is introduced as a practical way to help young people:
Creative Mentoring activity takes place at home, school, and community settings in 2-hour sessions, once a week over varying lengths of time, averaging 3-9 months.
Eight ‘Measures of Progress’ are reviewed regularly: participation, engagement, confidence, communication, motivation, achievement, leadership and ambition. One to one provision helps participants to:
Schools and leaving care services across the region are implementing Creative Mentoring to support their most vulnerable learners at times of crisis to avoid periods of exclusion and to reduce long term NEET periods of those making the transition from education and care into independent living.