A new generation of high-flying mentors will be created to help struggling teenagers fulfil their potential and improve their life chances, according to the Prime Minister David Cameron who made the announcement today.
Christine Hodgson, Chair of Capgemini UK and the Careers and Enterprise Company, has agreed to lead a major campaign to encourage business people and professionals to volunteer to act as mentors to young teens at risk of dropping out of education or achieving less than they are capable of. While figures for young people not in education, training or employment (NEET) have fallen since 2010, there are still tens of thousands of teenagers who are at risk of "dropping out".
The ACP asks if the campaign will be also be encouraging young people to learn about themselves, their strengths and their background, which is key, when thinking about the right career choice. It highlights the concern that many of these teens don't receive the emotional support they need in order to achieve a bright future.
ACP Media and Communications lead and child and adolescent psychotherapist, Alison Roy says:
"This is a positive step towards understanding that young people need key relationships with adults they can trust and who can inspire them, but in order to achieve, society's most disadvantaged young people will also need considerable emotional and psychological support.
"If, as a child, you have been deprived of even the basic human rights of care and respect from adults - you may not have the capacity to take opportunities, even if you come into contact with someone inspirational. This is why many bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds are not fulfilling their potential."
She added: "There are no quick fixes, we need to pledge to work together, to encourage and inspire children and young people to learn that they can be successful and inspirational to others. This doesn't happen through relentless testing, this comes through supporting teachers (and mentors) to understand the individual needs of a child or young person and by providing creative spaces and supportive relationships for them."
Figures showing pupils who score highly in primary school often struggle to continue that success into secondary school. Around 25,000 pupils about to begin GCSEs risk under-achieving or dropping out. The national mentoring campaign will see schools and businesses encouraged to work together to give these young people the best possible chance to succeed in later life.
The campaign is part of a broader strategy aimed at combatting poverty and improving the life chances of the worst off which will be outlined by the Prime Minister later today. In his speech David Cameron is expected to say:
"Many people can look back at their younger selves and point to someone, perhaps a parent or teacher, a sports coach, or their first boss, and say ‘that’s the person who found my passion. They’re the ones who made the difference’."
The ACP supports this campaign, but stresses the need for it to be embedded within an integrated package of holistic support for young people. "We would also want to see a range of mentors, including teachers, social workers, NHS workers, writers, artists and musicians."
Read the full campaign story here