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Mentor Spotlight: Claire Robinson

08 November 2018

The STEM Ambassador Hub North East runs the Regional Mentoring Programme which is funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company and is intended to offer students in years 8, 9 and 10 some extra support and guidance in the run-up to their GCSEs. The programme aims to help raise aspirations and provide the students with a mentor that is external to the school setting. 

Claire Robinson, Information Officer at RTC North joined the Mentoring programme in April 2017 and became a mentor to 2 students in year 11 at Kenton School, Newcastle. Considering aspirations in the area generally are very low with many students coming from families where the parents are either not in work or are in low-skilled, low-paid work, the school is one of the STEM Ambassador Hub’s Priority Schools. The Hub works closely with the school and there are 8 students in the school who are being mentored on a one-to-one basis as well as STEM Ambassadors regularly visiting the school to support both STEM teaching and their careers programme.

Claire’s background in Library and Information means that she brings a unique set of skills to the STEM Ambassador and Mentoring Programmes and has been a valuable addition to both programmes. 

Throughout the course of the programme, both mentees showed significant progress in terms of their confidence and seeing the relevance of their studies.

The two young people that Claire was mentoring are very different and therefore had different areas they wanted to work on with her as their mentor. One of them had anxiety issues and so Claire had spent quite some time working with this young person on building coping strategies for dealing with anxiety and then moved onto discussing possible career paths including teaching and media studies.

The other mentee has a desire to be a guitar player in a band and is very determined to reach this dream. Teachers in the school were concerned that as a result the young person was focusing solely on this and letting other subjects fall by the wayside, so Claire worked hard to ensure the young person has a backup plan in case his dream doesn’t become a reality. The mentee has now started to look at the music industry in a wider context and is starting to consider music production and music event promotion.  This is a huge step forward for the young person and is entirely down to Claire and her mentoring.

Both her mentees felt the pressures of revision and exams in the run-up to their GCSEs and so the mentor’s support was crucial as it provided an opportunity to the mentees to step away from the pressure for a short time and concentrate more on themselves and what they need to do to achieve their career goals.

Claire also acted as a great pillar of support for one of the mentees who at the time was dealing with the death of a close family member. The mentee was finding in extremely challenging to cope with the situation as this was their first of bereavement. Claire liaised with the school pastoral team to make sure the young person gets the help they need at this difficult time.

As much as the programme aims to support young people, it also aims to provide inspiration and support for mentors as well.

Claire saw the Mentoring programme as an opportunity to get a teste of the counseling world as she is interested in moving into this professionally.

Although Claire was keen to take part in it, she was very apprehensive as she wasn’t sure she had the knowledge and skills she may need to be a mentor. At the start of the programme, Claire herself had low self-confidence and doubted her ability to have a positive impact on the students.

Since becoming a STEM Ambassador and a mentor there has been a noticeable difference in Claire. She is more confident and can really see the impact she is having on her mentees and in return, this is lifting her own self-esteem and confidence.

Since starting the mentoring, Claire has volunteered to mentor more students in another school, showing just how much, she is enjoying the programme and that she now sees the relevance of her knowledge and expertise in a school setting.

Claire has attended a network meeting with other STEM Ambassadors and local teachers to enable them to talk to each other to show what the ambassadors can offer to a school and so that the ambassadors can better see how what they do fits into the curriculum and adds real-life context.

If you would like to become a STEM Ambassador and/or a mentor and to help us inspire the next generation, please give us a call on 0191 516 4400.

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