Evolve joins new European mentoring network

Evolve has teamed up with an international network of researchers and practitioners to share and receive the latest evidence and expertise around the growing movement of youth mentoring.
This partnership means we can share our extensive knowledge and expertise and contribute to the best practice debates around mentoring with researchers and pioneers across Europe and the US. This is an exciting opportunity that will help to further enhance the mentoring programmes we offer to schools.
A key work strand for Evolve Health Mentors within Project HE:RO is one-to-one and small group mentoring covering a range of topics such as aspirations, decision making, transition and self esteem. We welcome the recent launch of the European Center for Evidence-based Mentoring since this widespread area of work has operated for too long without any real ownership, recognised training pathways, quality assurance mechanisms or impact research; especially here in the UK.
Too many organisations claim to offer mentoring programmes within our education system but many of these have no evidence base and research even suggests that poorly planned and executed mentoring programmes have a detrimental affect on outcomes for young people.

We look forward to sharing the positive impact that our innovative team of Health Mentors are having on pupils’ wellbeing and academic achievement with our new European colleagues.
The European Center for Evidence-based Mentoring is presently conducting research in close collaboration with the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring in the United States. The network supports practitioners and coordinators of mentor programmes, like Evolve, and researchers to share knowledge, practice and powerful stories with the aim of improving mentoring outcomes globally.
I recently attended the Centre’s launch at the European Mentoring Summit in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands and was motivated to hear speakers talk about their programmes and accompanying research. A key take home message was that mentoring is a sleeping giant with most of its potential untapped, being aptly described as a powerful tool that will rise to prominence during the 21st century.
Among the keynote speakers was Dr Jean Rhodes, Professor of Psychology and the Director of the US Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
Her research suggests that the effect size of any mentoring programme is enhanced if the mentee has self-referred. This is something that we are hoping to introduce next year and are looking for schools to help trial. Please let us know if you are interested in taking part.
She also suggests that programmes are more effective when a structured timetable for mentoring sessions is used. This includes both the frequency and timing of sessions with weekly interactions, as a minimum, required to show meaningful impact.  We encourage all schools and Health Mentors to follow this advice when planning and implementing mentoring programmes for best results.
Evidence also suggests that mentors must work with mentees for at least six months before positive effects can be realised.  This mirrors our own impact data, which shows that it takes at least one term of weekly interventions to show meaningful positive effects; and outcomes in term three are greater than the previous two terms combined.
It is for this reason why we always advise schools to see Project HE:RO as a year long commitment as a minimum, to ensure that our Health Mentors have time to build the required relationships and rapport with pupils. Note that Health Mentors who remain in schools beyond the first year and become truly embedded within a school have a head start when it comes to working with new mentees since that relationship may already have formed through other interactions within school, either directly during curriculum enrichment events or after school activities; or indirectly via classroom coaching or lunchtime support.
Dr Rhodes is a contributor and member of the steering committee for Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring. This book summarises the key findings of all research around mentoring and makes suggestions about how this evidence should inform your own mentoring programmes.   We have adopted these standards within our own programmes and already incorporate many of the enhancements within our work. You can download a free copy of this excellent resource here (add link).
Another keynote speaker at the summit, Dr Nico W. Van Yperen, Professor of Psychology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, explained how his research shows that the key to an effective mentoring programme is the “fit” between mentor and mentee.
This supports our own assumptions why our Health Mentors are so effective in achieving positive outcomes for pupils.  The rapport that they develop with pupils is built upon this “fit” that Dr Yperen has identified where shared interests and mutual respect are key features. Health Mentors are generally from the same communities as pupils, are closer in age than many teachers and support staff and often have much more in common with the children who they are assigned to support.
Dr Van Yperen also found that self-affirmation is needed before focussing on targeted areas with a pupil.  Project HE:RO works by using Health Mentors to find what motivates and inspires pupils and uses this as a hook to build their mentoring programmes around. We often find that we deployed to support less academic pupils whose strengths lie in arts, sports or digital media. These strengths mirror those of Health Mentors so we can capitalise on the twin benefit of mutual interest and talent development.
There will be much more interesting content to share and explore in the coming months as we further develop these links and opportunities. In the meantime, please do get in touch if you would like to know more about the evidence that underpins our approach to mentoring at Evolve using 0845 519 8446 or mentoring@evolvesi.com.