Mentoring in Education -Stakeholder meeting report

supreme mentoringThe final SIRIUS stakeholder meeting, this time focusing on mentoring, took place in association with the final conference of the SUPREME mentoring project on 27 October 2014 in the Neth-ER offices in Brussels. The SUPREME project has been developed by a partnership where VET and SME associations, as well as policy makers, work together to increase the cooperation between VETs and the world of work. The objective of the conference was to:

  • Learn about good practices in the field of preventing early school leaving and youth unemployment
  • Experience how mentoring binds education and industry on a European level
  • Explore state of the art mentoring results in European countries
  • Involve decision makers in order to secure the mentor methodology and the cooperation of industry and education in Europe

photo 3SUPREME members gave examples of their work from around Europe, with a focus on the importance of exchange of good practices that are adaptable to the cultural conditions of each country. Developing links between industry, welfare, education and policy makers is also important in order to get the most out of mentoring for all involved.

Thomas Huddleston (Migration Policy Group) spoke during the plenary session on The added value of European cooperation in mentoring, to serve migrant youth and highlighted the importance of mentors as role models that give positive images, confidence, cognitive gains, social skills and networking connections to their mentees. Inclusive education can be developed by involving all local communities (including immigrant ones) and sharing lessons learned for EU cooperation and policy recommendations.  He underlined the importance of mentoring for migrant pupils who are particularly affected by early school leaving, youth unemployment and over representation on technical or lower quality tracks, despite the high educational ambitions of both pupils and parents. Innovative outside-school learning through mentorships offers these children and their families improved knowledge of schooling, orientation for pupils and parents, often from mentors with a similar language and cultural background which allows them to address socio-emotional problems. He noted that there was a striking discrepancy between the popularity of mentoring on the ground and the lack of engagement on the topic on a policy level, whereby mentoring programmes are seen as “nice-to-have” but not “need to have”. Mentoring programmes should be recognised as helping educators to diagnose problems or missing services in schools, and can offer necessary support to develop the potential of their students. His recommendations summarised the ENESP Handbook on Mentoring and the SIRIUS Policy Brief on Mentoring and include the following:

  • Mentoring should be considered as an effective hands-on tool to reduce the achievement gap with little legislative or financial effort.
  • There is a clear role for mentors and the competences they need, but they should not be considered a substitute for social workers/therapy.
  • Mentoring programmes should be available for all pupils in less supportive environments, including high potential, not only ‘at risk’ learners.
  • There needs to be secure long-term funding beyond project cycles to ensure training and use of dedicated mentors, perhaps through ‘embedding’ projects within school system or well-established education or migrant organisations.
  • Mentoring needs to be an integral part of policymaking in education and in promoting education outside the classroom to strengthen social skills.
  • Closer cooperation with migrant-led mentoring programmes will allow non-migrant policymakers a better understanding of the needs and situation of pupils, parents, and communities, while also fostering good relationships with school, teachers and staff.
  • It is important to monitor and address equal participation of immigrant youth in mentoring schemes, not only as mentees but also mentors.

Logo-ENESP-300x74Ibrahim Elmaagac, General Coordinator of the Dutch Platform for Education, Innovation and Talent Development (NPOINT) participated on behalf of the European Network for Educational Support Projects (ENESP) in order to give practical examples of how they engage with students from an intercultural or socially disadvantaged background. NPOINT do this by assisting pupils in their studies to prevent them from falling behind, as well as helping them to explore their interests and find a course that suits their talents. Rather than measuring their abilities only through coursework and outcomes, they encourage a learner-focus on personal development and personal happiness.

mentoring handbook

Sarah Cooke O’Dowd (Migration Policy Group), together with Huddleston and Elmaagac manned the roundtable in order to meet mentoring stakeholders interested in understanding how to make mentoring schemes more sensitive to a diverse student population. To this extent, they were directed to the European Network for Educational Support Projects’ Handbook on MentoringOther participants wished to know more about the recommendations that SIRIUS has for policy making and they were given copies of the SIRIUS Policy Brief on Mentoring.


SUPREME mentoring manual

How to improve social inclusion in education | Obessu

obessuHow can education systems be made as inclusive as possible? This is a very difficult question, which many people, organisations and institutions have tried to find an answer to. OBESSU worked on it partly through the 2013-2014 campaign “Education, we have a problem!” and was happy to see that the topic generated a lot of interest from different perspectives.

One organisation working on the question is the SIRIUS Network, a supporter of the OBESSU campaign whose main interest is “education of children and young people with a migrant background”. SIRIUS is now gathering input for a set of recommendations on migrant education which will be presented at a conference in the European Parliament in November.

On the 29th of September, OBESSU was invited to a meeting to give its view on the topic. OBESSU’s Secretary General Rasmus Åberg attended the meeting and although the presented draft recommendations included many good points, there were also several things to improve from an OBESSU perspective. For example, the draft recommendations mention VET as a tool for combating social exclusion in education and while OBESSU firmly believes that VET should be seen as a respectable alternative to academic studies, it is important to stress the lifelong learning approach – VET students should learn things that will be useful for them later in life and not only what is in the short-term interest of companies. It is also important that a VET track does not mean that the door is closed for future higher education studies.

Another area which OBESSU stressed is the importance of having a learner-centred approach in all stages of education. An education system where the learner is in focus is the best way to guarantee a sustained interest in fulfilling the started education.

The OBESSU comments will now be included in the SIRIUS recommendations and we keep our fingers crossed that they will be picked up and implemented by the relevant policy-makers.

If you are interested in the topic of social inclusion in education with a migrant perspective, keep your eyes open for the OBESSU Study Session “Deport Xenophobia from European Classrooms”, to be held in Budapest in February 2015.

Read OBESSU’s recently adopted “Guidelines on Social Inclusion in Education” here.

Written by Rasmus Åberg

Via Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions

Mentoring during Vocational Education and Training

Via Tandem Now
Via Tandem Now

All over Europe, young people with a migrant background are still more likely than their native peers to come from a low socio-economic background and to experience difficulties during their educational pathways.

With this in mind, civil society organizations from six European countries (Austria, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain and Turkey) set up TANDEM NOW in 2012. Funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission, this initiative offers mentoring for migrant students on their way to a successful vocational education and training (VET) and a later job career.

Seeing the need for specific career orientation and assistance, TANDEM NOW connects students with mentors from their own ethnic communities, who accompany them through their education and training phase. While these mentoring programmes take place in the respective countries, TANDEM NOW members also regularly come together to exchange best practices, improve teaching materials and discuss new ideas.

SIRIUS has recently discussed the important role of VET in preventing social exclusion during one of its stakeholder meetings. By combining this insight with a concrete support project, TANDEM NOW is an initiative to keep an eye on!

Via TANDEM NOWtandem_logo

Education and Training in Europe 2020 – Responses from the EU Member States

Education and Training in Europe 2020: Responses from the EU MemThe Eurydice Network Report presents a focused comparative analysis of national responses to the Europe 2020 priorities in the field of education and training. It concentrates on recent and forthcoming national reforms across several thematic areas that have a direct relevance to the Europe 2020 strategy: early school leaving, higher education, youth employment and vocational education and training and lifelong learning.

The report reflects the prominent place of Education and Training in the Europe 2020 strategy. A headline target has been set for education which specifies twin goals on early school leaving and higher education attainment, while under the European semester of economic governance, the key messages of the Annual Growth Survey as well as an increasing number of Country-specific Recommendations have strong links with education and training.

Via European Commission – Education and Training

Download Full Report (English)

Download Europe 2020: National Examples (English)

Via Eurydice Thematic Reports

Students from a migrant background, are mentioned in relation to the sections on early school leaving, higher education and training and lifelong learning. However, they are not specifically mentioned in the section on youth unemployment and vocational education, despite the fact that access to and successful completion of vocational education is more difficult for young people with a migrant background (see SIRIUS report on Vocational Education and Training to counter Social Exclusion).

Many of the country-specific recommendations (Annex 1) that were adopted by the Council in 2012 and 2013 highlight the need for measures aimed specifically at students with a migrant background.