COVID19 Update: We are adapting our Stepping Stones programme for the academic year 2020/21 to reflect social bubbles. We describe below how Stepping Stones has historically operated as this is the model we would like to offer to pupils who join Gladesmore Community School in September 2021.
Stepping Stones is a Gladesmore-developed programme supporting transition which has now expanded to more than 50 schools London-wide. Initially the development of the programme was funded by the GLA, however, we are so impressed by its outcomes that we continue to implement the programme with all of Year 7. Running since 2016, the Stepping Stones intervention is extremely well-established at Gladesmore and is a very important part of our Year 7 support system.
You can access all the resources for the Stepping Stones programme on the GLA website and also look at the evaluation of the project: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/education-and-youth/school-schemes/stepping-stones-2018
Breakfast Peer Mentoring
We know that Year 7 can be an unsettling time for most Year 7 students. We also know that young people frequently benefit from working with others. The Stepping Stones programme makes the most of our greatest asset – our older students – in order to support our younger students. Stepping Stones mentors receive 2 days training so that they can be an effective support to Year 7.
Three mornings a week, our Year 10 mentors attend school early in order to meet Year 7 in an informal breakfast setting. All Year 7 are invited to attend (we typically have 70+ volunteer Year 10 mentors so we have the capacity to work with large numbers of students).
Each Year 7 who attends is assigned a mentor with whom they can discuss their transition to secondary school, any issues they are having and also life in general. Conversations every morning vary for example some students are having heated discussions about last night’s football, some students are helping each other with home learning and some mentors take their mentees to the library to show them how to access our Reading Programme, Accelerated Reader. Breakfast mentoring is supported by members of staff in case issues arise which need immediate action.
When we survey students who attend, they say that they appreciate the opportunity to make friends with older students, the academic support they receive, the relationships that they develop with each other (many students make friends at Stepping Stones morning mentoring) and also the free breakfast!
Stepping Stones Taught Programme
Whilst our Year 10 mentors are fantastic, the Year 7 team recognises that some Year 7 students need a bit more support than can be offered by a Year 10 student.
Over the last 5 years, we have developed the Stepping Stones intervention for these students. Working in collaboration with the Head of Year 7, the Attendance Team and the Stepping Stones Manager we identify groups of students who need more support. This support is provided via a 6-12 week support programme which usually runs one hour a week. Each intervention is different and works with a different group of students who have similar needs.
This work is bespoke to each year group, however, historically we have offered:
- Support for students who find organising themselves challenging
- Support for students who have low self-esteem or who lack confidence in the classroom
- Support for students experiencing friendship issues
- Support for students who struggle to respond appropriately to adults and other students