The Return of the Mentors

We are delighted to welcome back this term our team of local Business Mentors.  Headed up by Mike Foster, our schools’ ‘Enterprise Advisor’, seven successful local business people have been volunteering their time over a series of Wednesday afternoons to mentor 28 Year 12 pupils on a tailored mentoring programme under the headings of ‘Employability’, ‘Pathway to your Career’ and ‘Making it Happen’.

From the launch of the programme in an assembly in March these sessions, rightly so, have proved very popular with our Year 12 students.  The sessions were oversubscribed, so we hope to entice the Mentors back in the summer term to provide more sessions for those unsuccessful in the first round of applications.

Sophy Parkin-Haig, Pro-Patet and 6th Form Mentor

Looking back, I never really investigated career options very thoroughly when I was at school.  I grew up in a medical household and I knew I didn’t want to pursue medicine – the only thing my parents could have helped me with!  I focused on what I was good at, which wasn’t necessarily what I loved.  Over the years, I found a way of balancing my skills with what I love and now I have my own company, working as a project manager.  

I work for two fantastic companies and with a number of different clients, including the Bank of England, BT, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Disney, Deloitte, Money Supermarket, Premier Inns and TUI, focusing on people development, training and coaching projects.

Before I started my company, I worked in education for 16 years, and I have always been passionate about helping young people to be equipped for future careers, understanding how to thrive in today’s fast-paced and changing work environments.  My husband is a teacher at Didcot Girls’ School and Sixth Form, and when I heard there was an opportunity to be involved with mentoring sixth form students I jumped at the chance.

I’ve now completed my first mentoring sessions with four students and it was a real privilege to meet them, and find out what they were considering once they left sixth form.  I’m looking forward to helping them unlock their potential over the next sessions, and I hope that I can continue to mentor – the calibre of students here is outstanding, and I’m excited about the talent that these students will bring to the workplace

Ben Payne, Year 12 pupil after his first session:

'The mentoring session was really useful today, I'm so glad I signed up for it.'

Jessie Rayner, mentee:

“Being offered mentoring by a successful person in the world of work is beneficial to us in many ways. It is important that as students about to either go to university or work, we are able to discuss our plans for the future with someone who is aware of good decisions to make, and ways in which we can present ourselves positively to employees/universities. I have benefited already from the session I had with my mentor; previously I had felt unclear about how to make my gap year as fulfilled as possible and how to apply for deferred entry to University. So far, my mentor and I have identified some campaigning organisations for whom I would consider working, and we are looking into deferred University entry. It is so useful having a regular mentor who is able to suggest fortnightly tasks to do in order to keep myself on track and organised when thinking about my future. It is a designated time that the mentees can dedicate to planning ahead. We feel really well supported, knowing the person helping us is so knowledgeable and experienced.”

Mr George, Head of Careers:

As a Sixth Form we are certainly very fortunate to have such committed, enthusiastic and dynamic mentors. They come with a wide range of business experience, skills and qualities which they are willing to share and impart to our pupils for their gain and development. To the mentors -we are very grateful and feel privileged to have you all involved. Thank you!


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