Babbasa announced as partner of West of England Mentoring


Babbasa announced as partner of West of England Mentoring!

What is it?

West of England Mentoring (WEM) is a partnership of mentoring organisations set up to deliver business mentoring in schools across the West of England (Bristol, B&NES, South Glos and N Somerset).

Who are the partners?

They are Mentoring Plus (lead partner), Ablaze (delivery partner), Babbasa (support partner) and business network Bath Bridge (support partner).

What will the project cover?

Recruiting, training and supporting groups of business mentors (usually about 6) who will be partnered with schools to complete 6 group mentoring sessions over about 12 weeks. Schools will select groups of students (usually about 20) to benefit from mentoring. The project encourages young people to think about dreams and goals, barriers and pathways, employability skills and action plans.

Which students will be mentored?

This project focuses on ‘missed middle’ students – not the most high-performing, nor those already receiving additional education support. Working with years 8, 9 and 10, the project aims to inspire students at risk of disengaging or those needing extra inspiration to make career choices and see the relevance of their studies before GCSE. Ideally at least some mentoring sessions will take place in the workplace.

Who is paying for it?

Initially this is benefiting from funding from the Careers and Enterprise Company, part of the Dept for Education. Schools also contribute a fee per student, and participating companies are invited to help support the project with a contribution to the cost of mentor training.

What do schools need to do to participate?

Schools are asked to nominate an internal co-ordinator to manage the referral of students, project participation, timetabling and travel, and to support impact reporting on each student.

In subsequent years, previous mentees can also be trained by WEM to provide peer mentoring alongside business mentors. Schools are supported by the WEM Project Manager and build a relationship with their partner organisation’s mentoring champion.

What do businesses need to do to participate?

Businesses are asked to nominate one or more mentoring champions to co-ordinate their involvement, bringing together a group of about 6 colleagues to mentor together. The WEM Project Manager schedules and delivers training, co-ordinates 6 mentoring sessions over 12 weeks with the partner school, and supports reporting and celebrating successes. The total time commitment is about 15-20 hours per mentor, depending on location.

Will the project continue in subsequent years?

Yes. Ideally schools form relationships with individual businesses and mentors will go on to support another group. New mentors can join their company’s group as well. This allows students who have completed mentoring to be trained to peer mentor younger students too.

Do mentors have to make up all the content themselves?

Training covers a six-session structure for business mentoring, providing themes and example exercises. Following these core elements, mentors can decide how to deliver each session and get students involved, building on their own experiences, skills and the nature of their organisation.

What are the benefits for students?

A teacher from a school in Bristol receiving business mentoring from a law firm told us: “We see a clear difference in students’ effort and attainment from participating. It’s also interesting that our recent head boys and girls and other students who have stepped forward to run things were also those who had taken part. This year, 60 students heard a presentation by the previous year’s mentees and mentors, and 55 applied to join the programme.”

What are the benefits for mentors?

A business mentor told us: “I enjoy the headspace it gives me to step away from my normal work and get talking to these guys. They’re young but surprisingly well-informed and we have great conversations. Some kids start out really quiet and it’s rewarding to see them coming forward and making themselves heard. We take turns running the sessions and there’s a bit of healthy competition over who can come up with the best ways to introduce a topic, keep the pace up, and make sure everyone can join in.”

What are the benefits for organisations?

Businesses see the benefits of getting involved in their local community, both in terms of the perception of their social responsibility and in attracting new employees. More directly, mentoring builds communications skills directly applicable to the workplace and creates bonds between teams of volunteers. A mentoring champion told us: “We see it as a way for our people to develop personally and professionally, doing something good for the next generation but also being better at their own thing as a result. And they really love doing it – we’ve got more volunteers than we can include at the moment.”

Where can I find out more?

West of England Mentoring is recruiting a Project Manager who will be the main contact when in post. Until then, Ruth Keily from Mentoring Plus is on 01225 429694,

Follow the Twitter feed @WEMentoring for latest updates.

If you would like to know more about Babbasa’s mentoring scheme, please contact Amy on