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BT launches mentoring scheme at London schools

Press Release   •   Feb 13, 2013 00:00 GMT

32 teenagers to work with BT mentors in bid to tackle under-achievement issues 

BT has launched a new mentoring scheme which aims to support students as they prepare for the transition from education to employment. 

The company’s specially chosen mentors will be working closely with students at three London schools over the coming year. 

The programme is designed to help the teenagers reach their full potential by showing them how their interests and skills can steer them towards the right career path. 

Recent government statistics reveal that nearly 17 per cent (16.9) of 16 to 24-year-olds in London are not in education, training or employment1 and mentoring is one key way of trying to address this issue. 

Northumberland Park Community School in Haringey; Oasis Academy Shirley Park in Croydon and Buxton School in Leytonstone are the first three schools in the UK to take part. Students based at these schools hail from diverse backgrounds and staff are keen to use this mentoring project as a new way of engaging with some students. 

The mentors are all members of the BT Ethnic Minority Network. The network’s aim is to support fellow staff to ensure that people from all walks of life are able to flourish and integrate fully at BT. 

The skills and experiences developed by the members of this network are being shared externally for the first time as the mentors work closely with 14 to 16-year-olds in some of the most deprived areas of the capital. 

Tony Chanmugam, BT’s finance director and also the company’s diversity champion, explained why BT developed this programme. 

“At BT we know how the right support and guidance can really help an individual navigate their way through obstacles and issues. Our mentors will work closely with students, with the support of their teachers and parents, to offer a fresh perspective and a real insight into how to forge a successful career path. 

“It is critical that we invest in our young people and equip them with the skills they need to succeed in life. This not only benefits them, but benefits the communities they live in and helps London and the UK as a whole.” 

The schools involved have carefully chosen students who they feel will benefit from the support of a mentor; some need a boost in confidence and others want a different perspective or just the opportunity to talk to someone who may share similar life experiences.

Northumberland Park Community School student Ismail Ahmed said: “My mentor has given me lots of advice about the importance of school and strategies to put in place for the rest of my life. This has been the only mentor I have ever had who I have felt has made a difference to me.” 

Diane Liversidge, assistant headteacher at Northumberland Park Community School, said: “There was no doubt in my mind about joining the programme. Now that the students and I have met with the mentors we can see how successful this programme can be. Expectations are high and our students are thrilled to have these opportunities when at times, it seems like there aren’t many opportunities to work with people from similar backgrounds that are successful.” 

Each mentor will work with two students and they will complete two sessions in each of the three school terms. As the relationship builds, they will develop a plan which will support and encourage the students, enabling them to discuss anything from finding work experience placements and apprenticeships to exploring further education possibilities and sharing experiences. 

Malcolm Weston, chairman of the BT Ethnic Minority Network, said: “Mentoring the students who are in transition to either post school education; training or employment is a great way of supporting and contributing to the community.” 


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Notes to editors 
1 Statistics taken from Department of Education website