To support our in-school volunteers we have highly experienced teachers, also working pro bono, who provide mentoring as needed. They also monitor individual one-to-one sessions to provide feedback to the in-school volunteers.
Mentors may also wish to be involved with training of in-school volunteers or with development of learning resources.
We hugely appreciate our mentors and we recognise how much they contribute to the development and improvement of the work of the charity.
If you are a former primary school teacher who is passionate about improving maths education, and you are willing to volunteer your expertise, you could be a mentor for Number Sense. Please see below for the FAQs for mentors and contact us for a discussion.
The mentor acts as a key link between our partner schools and our in-school volunteers. There are several aspects to the role:
Our partner schools: The mentor generally meets the school’s head of maths (or similar) in early September to establish a good relationship with the school and to understand its specific needs. We ask the school to provide feedback each term about the children and to share this with the mentor and volunteers. As an educational expert, the mentor can be really important in assisting with this communication. For further details about our partner schools, please visit our Schools page.
In-school volunteers: The mentor plays a key role in supporting the in-school volunteers. As a mentor, you will meet your group of volunteers at their initial training session. (We train the volunteers before they start in a school and also once they have volunteered for a few weeks. For further details, please see our In-school volunteers page.) You would ideally also meet the volunteers on their first day at the school to introduce them to the relevant staff. They may occasionally email or phone you with questions, such as how to work with a specific child or how to structure a session to help a child with a particular skill. During the year, you will also observe a session with each volunteer to give them feedback and support.
The overall time commitment is flexible and can generally be adapted to whatever works best for you. Much of the role can be done at times to suit you
Typically mentors will give a few hours a month, although this will be spread irregularly over the year. The more schools you choose to work with, the more in-school volunteers you’ll be supporting, so the greater the time commitment. There are usually three volunteers per school.
We appreciate that you are a volunteer and that you have your own commitments. We can generally make arrangements for another mentor to cover for you. So, if you can be available to support volunteers for most weeks during the school year and can also advise us of any unavailability, you can certainly be a mentor and make a significant contribution to Number Sense.
Mentors participate in the training of in-school volunteers. In due course, we will also develop specific training for mentors.
We are building a network of mentors so that you can share ideas and expertise. We are keen to learn from your experience so that we can continue improving all aspects of our intervention – including how we support mentors.
We also have a Community organiser in each geographical area who will provide administrative support. They take responsibility for recruitment and administration of in-school volunteers so that mentors can focus on educational issues. For further details, please visit our Community organisers page.
We have produced various forms and policies which mentors can use as a framework. This includes a safeguarding policy which applies to everyone involved in Number Sense.
This will vary depending on how many schools you wish to cover. As we work with more schools, we will need more mentors and the geographical area covered by any given mentor will tend to shrink.
We will pay reasonable travel expenses. We encourage all our volunteers to use public transport but we will pay car mileage and even parking costs if there is no reasonable alternative. We require evidence of expenditure, but there are circumstances where we can accept a log book rather than receipts.
Mentors need to be confident with current classroom practices. We interview all candidates, so we can together evaluate if your experience is appropriate.
An organisation with a strong physical presence requires people on the ground in each area where we operate. This includes in-school volunteers, mentors, and volunteer leaders. Our strategy is therefore to focus on London while we grow to a suitable scale, after which we can open up in new areas, building a local support structure in each.
We have developed our intervention based on discussions with experienced teachers, incorporating ideas from existing literacy schemes which support children learning to read. We have also built on feedback from our first group of volunteers.
At the end of our first year, in July 2019, we asked the class teacher of each child we worked with to evaluate the child’s progress over the year compared to the rest of the class. This used a five point scale from ‘very much better’ to ‘worse’. (It turned out that nobody was evaluated ‘worse’!) The teachers rated 60% of the children ‘very much better’ or ‘noticeably better’.
These results are very encouraging, albeit they are for a relatively small group of children. In the school year 2019-20 we will be asking the same question to class teachers on over 100 children, and in addition we have asked the schools to carry out a before-and-after ‘attitude test’ with each child. This will help us build stronger evidence on the impact of our intervention.
Thus we have an intervention which professionals predict will succeed and which is already showing positive impact. However, we want to continue to improve the quality of our intervention and to get external validation of our results.
We have made initial steps towards establishing a partnership with independent academics who can evaluate whether we achieve improved outcomes for the children we work with. A statistically meaningful analysis will require tracking hundreds of children. Our goal is to achieve this by 2024-25.