Check and Connect

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Method & Rationale

Check and connect is a structured adult intervention for students built around the principal that every student should have ‘one good adult’ in their life. The ‘My World Survey’ carried out by () showed that Young people who had the support of One Good Adult were more connected to others, more self-confident, future looking and better able to cope with difficulties than those young people who reported that they did not have the support of One Good Adult.
For many young people that One Good Adult usually comes from their family or friends but for a small group of students they are missing that link. These students are more likely to suffer with mental health difficulties as well as have difficulties in school and anti-social behavior.
The Check and Connect Programme is aimed at providing a mentor to these students who can act as their One Good Adult. The role of this mentor is to be a point of contact for that student, to help them make good choices and to be a good listener. The mentor should be someone who the student feels will be on their side.

Description

  1. The co-ordinator of this programme should along with appropriate staff members identify students who could benefit from this programme. These should be the most vulnerable students who perhaps don’t have a great support system at home. They should be asked if they would like to participate in a mentor programme.
  2. Once the students have been identified – Staff should be asked to volunteer. They do not have to be teachers but support staff also. Staff would be volunteers two fifteen minute slots per week of their time to meet a student.
  3. Once staff/students have been identified – they should be matched up. Ideally allowing staff or students to identify someone they feel like they already have a good relationship or special connection with.
  4. Once matched the staff member should contact the student and should compare time tables to identify two periods in the week when they would meet for 15 minutes each. It may be in the morning/lunch etc. (or sometimes to win favour with these students to take them 15 minutes from a subject they dislike as it can help to make a good initial connection).
  5. The co-ordinator should explain the role of mentor to staff members. It is important that staff understand they are there as One Good Adult for the student and not in the capacity of a teacher or disciplinarian. During the sessions there are a couple of important principles: 1) The mentor should never give advice (something really difficult for most teachers!) instead they can ask what the student thinks would be best and ask questions to steer them in the right direction, 2) Mentors must not discipline students – if a student is describing a difficult situation in one of their classes perhaps an argument with a staff member it is important for the staff member not to automatically jump to the defence for their colleague (also difficult for teachers) remember you are there for the student to listen to their point of view. You may help them understand why their actions were problematic by asking questions e.g. ‘ do you think that is the best thing you could have done in that situation?’ ‘put yourself in the teachers position how would you feel?’ etc.
  6. Sessions between the staff member and student do become more natural over time and they find they have plenty to talk about but for the initial sessions there are some worksheets (which I will upload) that help the two to get to know one and other. These cover the students subjects, likes and dislikes, hobbies, future planning. Mentors may help students with time tables organisations but the ultimate aim is to ask the student how things are going for them? How the week has been? Etc.
  7. Once a relationship has begun to form, the student may disclose some problems they have in school or at home. Together the mentor and student may come up with an action plan to try out before they meet again. E.g. perhaps they are always getting into trouble for not having homework done. Ask the student what they could do about that and maybe suggest they try to do their homework for one class and see if the class goes smoother. A bit like an experiment.
  8. Again throughout the year a relationship should form and conversation will become natural. If a mentor and student don’t work well together which can happen, they should be rematched.
Partner schools can adapt or select this set of measures according to their special circumstances, arguing the reasons of that particular choice or adaptation.

 

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