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Vital school support from ex-service personnel

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This week is Armed Forces Week and the county council is recognising the vital role ex-servicemen and women play in Lancashire’s schools.

There are currently eight ex-service people who work as mentors in secondary schools.

They play a crucial role in helping to improve attendance, ensuring young people feel part of school life and supporting their learning progression.

Their main role is to support pupils through one-to-one mentoring sessions. They also provide assistance on school trips and visits to pupil’s homes alongside school officers to improve pupil attendance.

The county council is currently looking to recruit a further eight ex-service mentors to work in schools from September 2020.

County Councillor Alf Clempson, champion for armed forces and veterans, said: “Our ex-service mentors do an outstanding job in Lancashire’s schools.

“Their vital work helps to improve pupil attendance, encourages them to engage with learning, and generally supports them with all aspects of school life.

“The mentors use their skills and experiences from military service to make a real positive impact on the young people they mentor.

“This is an extremely successful scheme with some amazing outcomes both for the young people involved and the mentors, many of whom go on to work in education after the scheme, which lasts a year.”

Phil Scurr, who mentors at Holy Cross Catholic School in Chorley, joined the council’s ex-service Personnel Mentoring in Schools programme last September: “Having been an Infantry Soldier for five years, serving in the 2nd Battalion in The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment from 2008 to 2013, I saw joining the mentor programme as a great chance to give back something to the local community.

“The role is fairly varied and includes providing 1-1 mentoring to pupils. We do this in a private setting, which helps the young people to feel safe and confident to talk openly with you about absolutely anything. I also provide more ad-hoc mentoring as situations arise.

“You become immersed in school life by taking on staff duties at break and lunchtimes, assisting on school trips and helping out with other extra-curricular activities such as sports teams and school productions.

“I’ll also make home visits to children who aren’t attending school for whatever reason, alongside either the attendance officer or another member of the school pastoral team to try and get to the root of what the problem is.

“I enjoy seeing the impact of the work I do, just seeing that first smile from a child that was previously despondent is worth all the hard work.”

Phil enjoys the challenges and variety that the role brings and has benefited from the on-the-job training he has received: “I would definitely recommend this role to others.

“I’d say that it’s incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, and I’ve learned an enormous amount about myself.

“The educational courses that you do as part of the role are also of tremendous value to you in terms of professional development, coupled with applying them ‘at the coal face’ in particular makes them a huge long term asset to anyone taking on this role.”

To find out how to apply for the mentoring programme, visit: jobs.lancashire.gov.uk/jobs/mentor-5473?et=KhVmRjhd

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