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Students at the University of Chester have been spending their free time to give extra assistance to school pupils who may have experienced disruption to their learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the relaunched Students in Schools scheme, which offers school pupils the help of a student mentor to support their learning.

The University’s Volunteering and Mentoring team has facilitated school mentoring for several years, only pausing to place students in schools during the pandemic.

Nine schools across Cheshire West and Chester and Wirral have recently welcomed the return of almost 30 student volunteers, who are giving their time to support young people in their studies as well as gaining new skills which they can take into their careers.

Though their ‘School Volunteer’ roles, the students are helping young people, some from disadvantaged backgrounds, the chance to receive additional support and the confidence to succeed.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, students still donated their time and talents through distanced volunteering projects, such as the student-led Bonding through Books project, or the one-off Student Scholars initiative.

History student Harriet Kennett, said: “As a part of this amazing opportunity given to me through the University of Chester, I have managed to gain confidence as well as the relevant skills for my chosen career of teaching.

“Having the chance to work one-to-one with students, influencing their learning, provides an insight into teaching and how rewarding this vocational job is, whilst also providing me with experience which will enhance my CV.”

Sophie Brown, who is studying for a degree in Psychology, plans to apply for a PGCE after she graduates and said volunteering at Chester International School, supporting Year 11 students on a one-to-one level with their work in English Language, is giving her valuable experience.

She said: “I have found supporting these students and helping them overcome challenges a really rewarding experience and its lovely to see them progressing each week. It has also allowed me to develop valuable communication and leadership skills and it has been great to be able to observe teachers and gain insight into the techniques they use to engage and interact with their class.”

Jo Morison, Volunteer and Mentoring Manager at the University of Chester, said: “We are really pleased to be able to offer schools in the area the talents and kindness of our students who are giving up their time to help others. The students also learn so much from the pupils they are helping and the teachers they are supporting which they can take into their careers.”

Abbey Peers, IB (International Baccalaureate) Coordinator at Chester International School, said: “The partnership between CIS and the University means that volunteers are working with small groups of pupils to provide targeted intervention to ensure every pupil is able to reach their potential, and at the same time allowing the volunteers work experience in an education setting. The volunteers have provided invaluable support to our GCSE students who have been impacted by lockdowns over the past few years.”


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