Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pupils See Results, Thanks to Mentors

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pupils See Results, Thanks to Mentors

Article excerpt

Byline: By Amanda Crook

When Tony McCourt passed five GCSEs last summer no-one was more surprised than him.

He had started his final year at Newcastle's West Gate College on the brink of exclusion and admits he rarely bothered with homework.

However, after making the grade last summer he joined the school sixth form and is now considering university, hoping it will eventually help him set up his own business.

Tony, 17, from Scotswood, puts his turnaround down to the school mentoring scheme.

He said: "At the beginning of the year I thought I was going to be thrown out of school because of my behaviour.

"Getting mentored was good. I could talk to David Peat because he wasn't a teacher and he gave me space to do my work, by myself if I wanted. It meant I wasn't distracted by my friends.

"He was easy to talk to and he just asked me what I wanted to do after school. I'd never really thought about that before.

"I'd probably be on the dole now looking for work if I hadn't had David and then the head Mr Farnie, mentoring me but I'm getting on really well with my GNVQ and I'm hoping to go to university."

After working initially with the learning mentors, Tony was also mentored by headteacher Jim Farnie. They met once a week and the head visited the family home to talk to Tony's mum about the support he might need.

Tony is one of 2,000 pupils each year, particularly boys, achieving the gold standard five GCSEs with the support of the city's 60 learning mentors.

The scheme combined with more vocational options is credited with the 10% increase, up to 44%, in boys achieving five good grades.

Results have been particularly impressive at West Gate College, Gosforth High and Kenton School where results for five A*-C grades zoomed up from 19% to 50%.

Paul Robinson, 25, gave up his job in accountancy to become a learning mentor at Kenton. …

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