Learning mentors making a difference to disadvantaged pupils

Excellence in Cities and Education Action Zones have helped some
pupils in disadvantaged areas, but their impact has been very
varied and depended heavily on how they were managed in individual
schools, according to Ofsted.

Although there are now 72 Education Action Zones, Ofsted says
they haven’t had a significant impact on exam results in
secondary schools since the first zones were established in 1998.
The wide disparity between the achievements of Key stage 3 pupils
(year 9) in the areas of greatest disadvantage and those elsewhere
is not being reduced and in some cases is increasing, says the
report. But this is partly because many of the initiatives in
secondary schools have targeted the inclusion of vulnerable pupils,
or extended opportunities for years 10 and 11, instead of focusing
on raising attainment at Key stage 3.

School attendance has risen and exclusions have fallen relative
to national trends in EAZ areas, but absenteeism is still
disturbingly high at 12 per cent. Excellence in City schools had
made more progress in improving SATs at Key stage 3, and in
increasing school attendance. The learning mentor system had been
very successful for those pupils targeted, having “a
significant effect on (their)  attendance, behaviour, self-esteem
and progress”.

Learning mentors in primary schools had in most schools made a
“valuable contribution” to attainment and inclusion,
but not yet to attendance or exclusions, says the report. Most
learning mentors knew what they were supposed to be doing, and were
doing it successfully. But in a minority of schools the work of
learning mentors lacked clear purpose and structure.

In many schools they have been appointed from within the
community serviced by the school which  improved perceptions of the
school in the community. They had been trained but Ofsted
recommends more training in behaviour management and how to support

Excellence in Cities and Education Action Zones: management
and impact. Office for Standards in Education


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