Mentoring support has been provided by TRaC and Moore Networking to a good cross-section of our students. This has provided particular benefit in the creation of CVs and the provision of coaching and guidance in relation to securing apprenticeship roles on completion of qualifications.

We know that there is further opportunity to expand our support to students outside of their core studies, and with Moore Networking project funding reaching an end, we were seeking a new partner to provide a broader alternative to our young people.

Lola Consulting

Lola Stafford Consulting is a social enterprise that has previously run a very successful project for neurotypical young people, supporting them with confidence building, resilience coaching and mentoring to help them identify and achieve aspirational goals.

Throughout this project, the Lola team observed a gap in support for young people with additional needs, for example, those with autistic spectrum disorder traits. This observation led to a successful lottery funding pitch to offer a SEN-specific version of the programme that sets out to provide 1:1 mentoring sessions in settings where there is a high risk of disengagement or missing out on opportunities due to the characteristics of their conditions.

Mentoring at Open Road

Working with Lola, the Director of Lola Stafford Consulting, we are now looking to establish a mentoring team to coach and support several of our students. Mentors will be fully trained in SEN mentoring skills, EDI, mental health awareness and safeguarding.

Each student will have up to 10 face-to-face sessions and progress will be recorded on individual action plans with the next steps outlined as the student/mentor relationship builds and discussions evolve. Actions may centre around things that the student can do themselves with encouragement and guidance, or the mentors may need to support them in working with partner organisations.

The development of mentoring services for Open Road brings real value to students’ experiences and helps drive better outcomes post-qualification. In turn, it provides us with the opportunity to ‘hand hold’ our most vulnerable students who find settling into their chosen course a challenge and who are therefore at heightened risk of exiting studies early.

It also presents us in an even more positive light to schools and colleges as we will be able to showcase success stories, highlighting how early intervention and associated guidance to our students increases their chances of achieving aspirational goals that ordinarily would have been out of reach.

We look forward to updating you on the progress of our mentors as the offering grows at Open Road.