Buddy System

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Method & Rationale

Starting second level school can be quiet intimidating. For most of us unfortunately, students who leave school early are not a shock and have struggled with school from early on or at least have shown signs of difficulty. The rationale behind this approach is that these students have positive role models in senior students that hopefully they would aspire to be like. These ‘positive role models’ may take on any name in an individual school, e.g. mentor, prefect, leader etc. For the purpose of this explanation we will call them mentors.
The mentors have a number of roles. They are there as a point of contact for the younger students, they will help them resolve minor issues students may have (which can seem big to young students and perhaps teachers do not have the time), help to refer on any larger issues (e.g. bullying, child protection etc.) Mentors should spend some time with younger students – perhaps provide some extra tuition or run a club.

Description

  1. The first task is to decide amongst the school management how this buddy system should work in your school, which age students should perform the role of mentor etc.
  2. Select your mentors: set up an application process for this ‘Exclusive position’. Explain the benefits of being a school leader and how this is an attractive quality to employers and a good talking point in interviews. Select students who will act as good role models for younger students – although in our experience it is also about those who may not be the best academically but have outgoing personalities and also perhaps those who had ‘turbulent’ early years in school but now have changed as they can share great experiences with the target students (it is important the target students can relate to their mentors).
  3. Pick a set time of the day when these mentors will meet the first years in your school. In our school we have a roll call class which lasts 8 minutes – mentors come to that class and help students organise their school diaries and assist the teacher with tasks. During this time they informally chat with students about their day, classes etc. It is during this time that they may see a student on their own, upset, or be approached by students with problems etc. So it is important that they are visable and seen by younger students.
  4. Mentors should assist the first years on their first days of school in a structured manner e.g. tour of the school, shown to their lockers, help organising the books. (mentors may be given time from class for this – which can make it attractive to be a mentor)
  5. Mentors also usually volunteer 1 lunch time or after school period per week to hang out in the lunch room with the first years or to run an extra curricular activity like board games, sports etc.
  6. Proper training of the mentors must take place. Their role must be explained and the behaviour standard expected of them. They may need some training in anti bullying (how to spot bullying, how to report etc) and also Child Protection i.e. if they disclose something of a worrying nature e.g. abuse, self harm etc that they need to report it to the correct person in school.
  7. Mentors should also help out with first year events and although this can mean they can miss some classes we believe it can be worth it e.g. accompanying them on school trips, watching their presentations/shows etc.
  8. Mentors should have some incentives in school. Perhaps for some it may be prestige (in Ireland they are sought after in jobs, their pictures are in the front hall in schools, they have a badge and they receive a gift from the school at the end of the year). This will vary from school to school and culture to culture.
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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