Learning mentors are appointed by schools to support all young people in out-of-home care. Lening mentors focus on supporting a child or young person in their learning, academic achievement and wellbeing in the learning environment.
Who should attend SSGs? When should we allocate a mentor and who should it be?
A mentor should be allocated in a timely manner. This may be when a student first starts school, following school transitions, or when the student first enters out-of-home care. The mentor should be identified by the leadership team and the process should involve the student to ensure a good fit. Consideration of a staff member’s skills, experience, gender, workload and existing relationship with the student is critical.
Can the classroom teacher also be their mentor? Can the ‘designated teacher’ be the learning mentor?
No, the mentor should not be directly involved in the teaching of the student. The mentor can be the out-of-home care 'designated teacher'. However, the mentor should ideally be a trusted staff member who is willing to take on the role voluntarily, outside of regular classroom, who has a particular connection and fit with the student.
What does the mentor actually do?
The aim of the mentoring role is to help the student stay connected to their schooling and to address barriers that may impact their learning. This might include:
- getting to know the student and taking an interest in his/her life and learning
- identifying any challenges that they may be facing and developing strategies that could assist
- advocating for the student (e.g. ensuring that other teaching staff are made aware of their learning needs, interests, passions, or particular fears or struggles)
- meeting with the student at a regular time. This would ideally occur as regularly as required
- participating in Student Support Group (SSG) meetings and providing advice about additional supports that the student may require
- facilitating the student's input into the individual education plan (IEP)
It is not the responsibility of a mentor to provide counselling. Further, the mentor should not have responsibility for supervising the student if he/she has behaved inappropriately and been removed from the classroom, as this can undermine the mentor relationship.
How will I be supported in my role as a mentor?
It is important that mentors receive ongoing support from the school’s leadership team. This should include:
- ensuring that an appropriate time and space is made available for the student to meet with mentors
- Providing formal avenues for professional support to the mentor (such as access to a wellbeing coordinator, student support services, employee assistance program)
- providing access to professional development. Training packages for mentors are available on this page under training.
Roles and responsibilities
The learning mentor plays a crucial role in assisting children and young people in out-of-home care. Being placed into care can be a traumatic and stressful experience. A child may require special support and assistance.
Important parts of the learning mentor role are to:
- support the educational needs of the child or young person
- help them stay connected to their schooling
- support them to overcome barriers in their learning
- act as a role model, guide and advocate for the child or young person
- know them well and take an interest in their life and learning.
The learning mentor is not a counsellor or the person to send the child or young person to when they have behaved inappropriately.
For short video overview of the role of the learning mentor, see: learning mentor training package
For more information about Learning Mentors and supporting children and young people in out-of-home care: