Learning Mentor

Learning mentors help people who are facing barriers to learning and enable them to achieve their full potential.  They may work with adults who need support with skills for life or they may identify and work with children and teenagers at risk of dropping out of school.  They may also work with children and adults who have learning or physical disabilities.

Work Environment
Learning mentors often work in primary or secondary schools. T hey may also spend time visiting clients and their families in their homes.  Working hours are varied, mostly within school hours.  Some learning mentors may work a full-time 37 hour week, whilst others might work part-time or in a job share arrangement.  Sometimes learning mentors need to work in the evening, for instance to visit parents who work during the day.

Daily Activities
Learning mentors support teachers and pastoral staff in schools to help children overcome barriers to learning and to achieve their full potential.  They work closely with teachers, classroom assistants, special needs assistants and classroom volunteers to identify children who are making less progress than their potential. They then help teachers to develop action plans to meet learning goals and support the children to help them achieve these goals.

Learning mentors may work with children in a one-to-one relationship, or with small groups.  Most of their work involves helping children progress in the classroom or other school activities, e.g. lunchtimes or outings.  They may provide support with truancy/absence, in the playground or developing social skills.  They also keep in contact with children's families or carers to try and get support and involvement.  Learning mentors liaise and share information with a number of different organisations, council departments and individuals.  They may refer children to social and youth services, education welfare services, probation and careers services, out of school study support and business and community voluntary mentors.

Some learning mentors work with children who have disabilities, for example, assisting young people with hearing difficulties by helping them understand and use sign language.  Sometimes learning mentors may work with adults supporting them with basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Skills & Interests
Learning mentors need to be:

  • good at forming relationships with a wide range of individuals and organisations;
  • able to gain the confidence of children, schools and people in the community and business;
  • excellent listeners;
  • good negotiators;
  • good at planning and managing activities;
  • knowledgeable about the issues that affect a child's development.

Entry Requirements
A learning mentor will need good numeracy and literacy and so will normally be expected to have GSCEs/S Grades (A*-C/1-3) or equivalent in English and maths. They will also often be expected to have previous experience of working with children and young people.  In some cases they may be required to have qualifications in social care or education.  However they may also be able to work towards N/SVQs in Care, Early Years Care or Learning Development and Support Services whilst employed.  When working with those with disabilities it may be necessary to have particular specialist knowledge relating to people's needs, for example, sign language.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
There may be opportunities to progress to a number of other related roles such as teaching assistant, special needs assistant or care assistant.  With additional training and qualifications there may be routes into teaching, speech and language therapy, youth work or social work.

Further Information & Services
Action on Hearing Loss www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk
Care Council for Wales www.ccwales.org.uk
Department for Education www.education.gov.uk 
Disability Wales www.disabilitywales.org/
Education jobs www.eteach.com
Health & Care Professions Council www.hpc-uk.org
Lifelong Learning UK www.lifelonglearning.co.uk
Social Care Association www.socialcareassociation.co.uk

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales (www.careerswales.com/) or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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