A mentoring programme for primary pupils set up by Kingston University’s Students’ Union has won a major national award.
Staff and volunteers involved with the Tolworth Junior School Learning Mentor Project were awarded an Outstanding Project accolade at the Higher Education Volunteering Awards 2007, held at London’s Wembley Stadium on 7 December.
The scheme started as a small pilot two years ago and has since grown into a project involving more than 20 student volunteers.
Mentors work with children at Tolworth Junior School in weekly hour-long, one-on-one sessions, which include educational games and art projects to boost the pupils’ knowledge and confidence.
“The scheme is incredibly rewarding and satisfying, especially when you see a positive change in the child you’re working with,” said mentor Tanya D’Souza, 21, a third year psychology and media studies student.
“It takes up just an hour of my time each week, but for the child I’m mentoring it means so much more.”
Head teacher at Tolworth Junior School Cathy Clarke said the student mentors had made a huge impact on school life.
“The project is a great motivational force for the children and really helps to boost their self esteem and confidence, which all links in to their learning,” she said.
“The mentors have become part of the fabric of the school and it’s tremendous that their work has been honoured with this award.”
Funded by the Higher Education Academy, the awards are held annually to celebrate the achievements of student volunteers across the country, with more than 600 volunteers being nominated for this year’s event.
Kingston University’s Students’ Union volunteering development co-ordinator Catherine Attridge said it was an enormous achievement for the students to have their hard work recognised in such a way.
“The competition was tough as there were so many other high quality shortlisted projects,” she said.
“The award is a well-deserved recognition of some very hard work by some fantastic students.”
Paul Ramsden, chief executive of the Higher Education Academy, said that the work carried out by the finalists and award-winners had benefits that reached far beyond the universities and colleges involved.
“We know from everything that volunteers tell us that this work brings great rewards to those who take part, through new experiences and friendships and a strong sense of achieving something useful for the world in which we live,” he said.