Our successful first online mentoring scheme opens up pathways for sixth formers

At the end of 2018, we ran a 12-week online mentoring scheme with Brightside for Year 12 [Lower Sixth] students who live and/or work in disadvantaged areas to encourage them to consider the news industry as a career. For our pilot, we focused the scheme on three regions: Falmouth, Nottingham and Sheffield. The scheme ran from September-December and involved students carrying out journalism-based activities and chatting online to their mentor about working in the news. All our mentors are professional journalists and volunteered their time.

At the end of the scheme, we organised a workshop for our participants where they had hands-on experience to produce a mock news programme in the television studios at their local university. The universities of Falmouth, Nottingham Trent and Sheffield all generously hosted these workshops.

“I think it’s good having something like this at the end because all the skills that you’ve learnt from your mentor and that you’ve looked into yourself, you can use them more now than if you hadn’t known about them before. We’re a lot more familiar with some of the terms that they’re using. It’s helpful just to bring it all together and apply it and the end.” (E-mentee)

Thanks to our funding from Martin Lewis, we were able to finance students’ travel expenses; one of the students’ teachers wrote to say, ‘This support means a great deal to the students in addition to the e-mentoring itself as it ensures that they can all participate regardless of family income.’

Feedback from the participants shows that there was a very high engagement as well as a shift in students’ knowledge on how to get the qualifications and training they needed to work in news. All our students got on with their mentor, learnt new things received useful feedback and, they tell us, can think more clearly about the future since taking part.

Feedback from mentors too was positive with all of them telling us they enjoyed the programme and thought the mentoring was a worthwhile and valuable use of their skills and knowledge, not to mention giving them a sense of accomplishment.

“I found it to be rewarding and interesting, and I think my mentees benefited from the experience.”(E-mentor)

Our partner Brightside was impressed at how the engagement across all three regions was high, commenting that, ‘based on our experience of delivering other online mentoring projects, the engagement figures for the John Schofield Trust scheme are really impressive. The students were motivated, curious and grew in confidence to ask questions about journalism,’ says Tom Greenidge, Project Manager at Brightside.

We are grateful to all our mentors and to the universities for making this pilot such as success. [Subject to funding] We hope to repeat and expand the scheme into other areas.

‘The mentoring scheme has given me an insight into the kind of work available in journalism.  Speaking to someone in the industry has helped to give me a real perspective of how everything works and made me think about what I would like to do in the future.’

Watch how e-mentees got on during a journalism insight day at Sheffield University. Click here.

Watch what Cornish e-mentees and their teacher thought about our e-mentoring scheme. Click here