Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a mentor with the School Volunteer Program of the ACT?

The first step is to obtain your Working with Vulnerable People Card. Then you need to complete our application form and email it or post it to us.   Your referees will be contacted to determine your suitability for the program and then you will then be contacted to have a face to face interview with our Mentor Coordinators to discuss whether you would like to work in a Primary or Secondary School, and where you would like to undertake your mentoring.  Getting Started

Do I have to attend a mentor orientation seminar?

Yes.  It gives you the opportunity to find out how the program works, to meet other mentors and to ask questions.  We also explain the boundaries of our program and how being a mentor is different to being a teacher’s assistant.   Link to Events

The course prepares you for the important role of being a professional and compassionate mentor. 

When is the next Mentor Orientation Seminar?

We usually run these events at the start of semester 1 and the start of Semester 2.Link to Events 

Do I need to have a Working with Vulnerable People Card to be a mentor with the School Volunteer program of the ACT?

Yes. You can apply to Access Canberra for this online by clicking.   Vulnerable People Card  

Will I be working with a student during the school holidays?

No. Volunteers with SVPACT meet with a student at their school and only during school terms.  You are not allowed to meet up with the child out of school or to go to their home or to watch them play sport at the weekends.

When are the school holidays in the ACT?

 How can I find out if the school where I volunteer, is involved in activities, that would prevent me from having a mentoring session with my student?

Ask the School Coordinator to add you to the database to receive the school newsletter. All ACT schools send a regular email newsletter out to parents and carers so that they know what is taking place.

Look at the school website.  Most schools enable you to read the latest newsletter online.

Send an email to the teacher of the child requesting that she keeps you informed.

Send a text to the teacher in the morning before you leave home. For example:  Is XX at school?  Can you please text me if XX is absent today.

 Who do I contact if I have concerns about my mentoring experience?

In each School there should be a School Coordinator who manages the volunteers and liaises between the volunteer and the teacher.  Make a time to have a chat with them about your concerns.

There is a Volunteer Coordinator with SVPACT for both North and South Canberra.  Their contact details are published in our newsletter.  You are always welcome to contact one of them to discuss your concerns.

 Do you need to have experience as a teacher or teacher’s assistant to be an effective volunteer mentor?

No. You just need to be reliable, caring and prepared to make a commitment of at least one hour per week, to meet with a student at their school.  We want you to commit for at least one school term. The impact of your efforts increases as you have more interaction with your student.

Your role is not to teach or to assist the teacher. Your role is to build a relationship with a student, so that they gain confidence and develop skills and strategies, to help them to succeed at school. 

 What sort of things will I be doing with the student at their school?

In some ACT schools our school volunteers work in a group setting, with other volunteers, to guide students to make a Meccano model of their choice.  In other schools the school volunteer may be working with a student to improve their reading or their numeracy skills.  Sometimes, teachers have specific tasks that they want the students to work on with their volunteer.  In all cases the main focus of the activity is to build a relationship with the volunteer and to improve the student’s confidence and enjoyment at school. 

What training does SVPACT provide?

All volunteers are expected to attend an initial orientation seminar to meet with other volunteers and to find out how this program operates. During the year other opportunities to network with other mentors and to find out more about helping students to improve their skills and self confidence are offered. We have experts in literacy, numeracy, school psychologists and others who are willing to come and answer questions from volunteer mentors at these seminars.   Next Seminar   

 Where can I find out more about my role as a School Volunteer with SVPACT?

On the website you will find the Mentor Handbook.   This has lots of information about the role. It also has information about who to contact if you have further questions.

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