Make a difference

The King Edward VI Alumni Mentorship Programme

An open letter to members from Committee member Charles Hamel-Cooke

Dear Member,

The Committee know that as an Association, our members have a wealth of hitherto untapped knowledge and experience which we could share with current pupils/students, enabling them to have access to knowledge beyond teachers and textbooks. Many members have already agreed to participate in this worthwhile scheme.

We have discussed the potential of this with the new Head Teacher Deri O’Regan, Deputy Head Teachers Beverley Tucker and Tom Grey and the Careers Co-ordinator Angela Hahn. There are 1,400 students at the school. Although Angela talks to every student every year individually, it is not possible for her to inspire and assist every student in every subject with their career choice. She is very excited with the prospect of having some help, with OBA members sharing their wisdom with students.

If you are interested in supporting this scheme, then it doesn’t have to take up much of your time – unless you want it to. It will be up to you how involved you become. It also doesn’t matter whether you live locally, or 10,458 miles away like one of our mentors, who lives in Wentworth Falls, near Sydney, Australia. There are many ways in which you can participate. For example:

1. Write an ‘open letter’ to a student who has shown an interest in the profession which you enjoyed, or are still enjoying. Some encouragement, a few biographical details of what you studied at school, and your career path, and maybe some ‘pearls of wisdom’ on what to look for, and what potential traps to avoid.

2. Visit the school and engage in conversation with an individual or small group of students and their year teacher or specialist tutor, sharing some of your experiences, and perhaps outlining unexpected benefits which you may have encountered along the way.

3. Address a year group – five minutes, or more (if you are accustomed to addressing an audience) with a Q & A at the end on your individual subject.

4. What was once called ‘work experience’ and now referred to as ‘shadow shifts’, enabling a student (or two, or more) to spend time with you in your place of work so that they can experience exactly what it is like to work there. This could, of course, lead to regular placements and future job opportunities.

You will have noted that in section 4 I mention ‘in your place of work’. It is hoped that if you are retired, you may well still have good contacts from your previous employment that you could encourage to allow shadow shifts. You might ‘sit in’ with the student to answer questions and explain what is happening. An hour, an afternoon…

ALL contacts with students would be facilitated by staff members, and for obvious reasons, personal information would comply with current GDPR regulations.

The long-term gain from this should benefit not only the students, but also give the mentors a sense of purpose, the great feeling of ‘giving something back’ and the huge satisfaction of watching a student who has taken advice and gleaned knowledge from you, succeeding in their chosen career.

If THE KING EDWARD VI ALUMNI MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME has made you consider that you could participate, then please complete the Mentorship Volunteer form (click this link) to help us to identify your area of experience and how much involvement you believe you could offer. If this is not for you, then please think about your friends, contemporaries, or perhaps family members who attended the school, but are not members of the OBA at present, and pass on this letter on to them.

Together we can make a real difference, contribute to the knowledge base of today’s students, and participate in helping them towards a bright, and successful future.

Charles Hamel-Cooke