Mentor Information

SVPACT Aims

Our Purpose 
To connect volunteers who want to make a difference with young people in school who need extra help. We are harnessing the wisdom and skills of older generations to enrich the learning experience of young people who are at risk of falling by the wayside in an often-overburdened school system.

Our Vision 
Our community helping young people to succeed.

Our Mission
To prepare and connect inter-generational volunteers with children who have been identified by a school as likely to benefit from engagement with a mature role model.

Quick Facts

The School Volunteer Program ACT Inc.  is an Association incorporated in the ACT which recognises the unique place of volunteers in schools. School volunteers are mentors, confidantes and communicators.

The School Volunteer Program ACT (SVPACT) currently has more than 130 Mentors, volunteering in over 40 ACT schools.

All SVPACT mentors hold a Working with Vulnerable People card, and two references are obtained for each mentor prior to commencement.

SVPACT mentors include people from all walks of life including former teachers, engineers, economists, tradesmen, homemakers, lawyers, bureaucrats and business managers.

Awards

Since SVPACT commenced over ten years ago, the Program, the Committee and individual mentors have received community recognition through several Children’s Week Awards for Excellence.

In 2015, the School Volunteer Program ACT was named the Volunteer Team of the Year, in the category Education, Science and Technology.

About the School Volunteer Program ACT

SVPACT is based on the successful Western Australian program and was first introduced by the Rotary Club of Canberra Weston Creek in 1997.

This program was subsequently combined with a trial activity at Charnwood Primary School and the “STYLE” program to cover the whole of the ACT.

SVPACT was formally launched by the former Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, at North Ainslie Primary School, in October 2005. General Jeffery is now the Patron of SVPACT.

All SVPACT mentors and Committee members contribute their services on a voluntary basis.

SVPACT works in partnership with the ACT Education and Training Directorate and is supported by Teachers Mutual Bank (major financial supporter), the ACT branch of the Australian Education Union ACT, Rotary and other community organisations.

Individual mentors work one to one with students, under the guidance of teachers, and within their line of sight.

It is expected that schools will seek parents’ approval for their child to participate in the Program.

 Getting Started

  1. As a first step, prospective mentors need to obtain a Working with Vulnerable People (WWVP) card from the ACT Office of Regulatory Services. These cards are free for volunteers. Working with Vunerable People Registration.
  1. Complete an SVPACT Application Form.
  1. A Committee Member will contact you to arrange a meeting to discuss your responsibilities as an SVPACT mentor and inform you of the basics of one to one school mentoring.
  1. You will be provided with an SVPACT name badge and be expected to attend the next biannual training and orientation seminar for new mentors.
  1. The SVPACT Committee Member will forward summary details of your expertise and experience to your preferred school and arrange an appointment to meet the Principal and/or SVPACT School Coordinator (SSC). At this meeting, your preferred day and time of the week will be arranged, together with your start date.
  1. Initially, mentors spend one hour each week with the student. However this may increase, once you have become accustomed to the environment and the student begins benefiting from the mentoring process.
  1. Usually the mentor works one to one with a student, however in some situations, you may be involved in small group mentoring.

 

Mentors work with their students under the general supervision of the classroom teacher, who will monitor the activities undertaken.

  • The school provides all books, writing materials and other learning resources as required.
  • The mentor and student may work in the library, in a corridor, in the classroom or a designated space as determined by the teacher. The Mentor and the Student will be in line of sight of a staff member at all times.
  • Individual students are selected through a process organised by the school. The criteria may vary according to the individual needs of students. Some students may be very able and just need extra challenges to engage their interest. Others may have a learning disability, poor self-esteem, lack of a mature role model, a temporary family setback, poor school attendance or social integration.
  • Schools have the responsibility of keeping parents informed about their child’s involvement in the program.
  • Mentors do not work with students outside the school premises or outside school hours.

Questions to Consider To help you with your school placement, please consider the following questions:

  • would you prefer to work with early childhood schools (Preschool to Year 2); upper primary schools (Years 3-6); secondary schools (Years 7-10); or colleges (Years 11-12)?
  • what days and times would you prefer?
  • how much time do you want to commit to mentoring?
  • what are you looking for in your mentoring experience?
  • which suburbs would you like to work in and would you consider working outside those areas?

 Mentoring using Meccano

Mentoring through Meccano building is a significant part of SVPACT. Participating mentors work in teams of four or more and meet at the school to work one to one with students, but in a group environment. The involvement of an individual student is generally for a ten week period, which matches the time usually taken to complete a model. This activity has proved very successful in enhancing the self esteem and confidence of participating students. 

Mentor Qualifications and Skills

No formal qualifications are required to become a SVPACT mentor. Training is arranged by the Committee through bi-annual orientation seminars for new mentors, and Literacy and Maths Workshops.

Volunteer mentors are men and women who:

  • reach across generations;
  • patiently encourage children and young people to do their best;
  • want to offer a listening ear; and
  • need to be flexible and adaptable to the student – teacher environment.

 Three Key Skills Required to be a Successful SVPACT Mentor

  1. Patience – it is important to be prepared to progress slowly and steadily and be able to cope with possible lapses by the student.
  2. Empathy – having an unbiased, friendly outlook towards young people is vital. Mentors need to accept that children are sometimes embarrassed, tentative or can be overly assertive – just as some adults are.
  3. Life Experience – mentors who can share their life experiences, challenges and skills with students are best suited to the SVPACT Program. Mentors who can impart their wisdom and who have an ability to provide a positive role model are also ideally suited.

SVPACT wishes to recruit volunteer mentors who display the qualities of social justice, integrity and appropriate behaviour towards students, teachers and other school staff.

Are you:

  • keen to be involved in fun, friendly and free training workshops accompanied by morning/afternoon tea?
  • genuinely interested in helping children and young people?
  • flexible and able to cooperate with students, teachers and staff and willing to learn from them?
  • able to commit to a volunteering activity for one hour per week during school terms?

IF YOU ANSWERED “YES”TO EACH QUESTION – THEN SVPACT IS FOR YOU!

SVPACT in Schools

Participating schools are expected to nominate a staff member as the SVPACT School Coordinator. Each School Coordinator will ensure that space, equipment, activities and students are ready at the designated times when Mentors arrive.

If a student is absent, or on excursion, the School Coordinator will make every effort to advise the mentor that the session will be cancelled. Similarly, the mentor will advise the School Coordinator if he/ she cannot attend at the scheduled time.

The ‘Mentor Contact Details and Class Arrangements’ form is provided to the Classroom Teacher to facilitate contact when the student is not available at the appointed time.

A professional approach and respect ensures that students, as well as mentors, gain the maximum benefit from the partnership.

If you need more instructions to perform your volunteering activity with your student, just ask your School Coordinator. It is advisable to establish an effective communication channel with the School Coordinator and/or Classroom Teacher.

Some schools maintain a “Communication Book” in which mentors and the School Coordinator/Classroom Teacher can exchange comments on the progress of the mentoring activity, tasks undertaken and other matters of mutual interest or concern. This method is particularly useful in those circumstances when direct discussion is not practical.

Issues or Student Concerns

All teachers and staff in schools have a mandatory responsibility to report to relevant authorities any concerns they may have in relation to student welfare and well being.

Mentors who have concerns about their student are advised to discuss their concerns with the School Coordinator or Classroom Teacher.

Confidentiality

In accordance with the ACT Education and Training Directorate’s ‘Working with Children and Young People – Code of Conduct for Volunteers’ you must “…observe confidentiality in respect to all information gained through your participation as a volunteer.” See the complete Code of Conduct for Volunteers.

In terms of what you learn about your student, confidentiality between you and the SVPACT School Coordinator is paramount. For example, a casual comment outside of the school may be misinterpreted and be devastating for a student, his/her family or SVPACT. If you have questions or concerns, please discuss them with either your SVPACT School Coordinator or a member of the SVPACT Committee.

When you first visit the school where you will be a mentor, you will need to take your Working With Vulnerable Card.

Administration

Insurance:
The SVPACT provides public liability and personal accident insurance cover for all volunteer mentors.

Sign on/off: 
All visitors to schools are required to sign on and off on the Visitor’s Attendance Book located in the front office of the school.

Working with Vulnerable People Card:
All mentors are required to produce their WWVP cards when requested by school staff.

SVPACT Committee: The SVPACT Committee aims to support its mentors according to best management practice. Working in partnership with school staff, SVPACT mentors make an important contribution to the school community SVPACT Committee Members are available to answer queries or assist in the implementation of the SVPACT mentoring service.

The Committee consists of current and former principals, retired teachers, current mentors, and volunteers with many years’ experience in community groups.

The Committee organises regular training and networking opportunities for SVPACT mentors.  We welcome your ideas and feedback on all aspects of the program.

Checklist

Some considerations prior to meeting with your SVPACT School Coordinator:

  • school sign-in procedures
  • relevant school contact details
  • plan of the school showing the layout of the school and parking
  • school evacuation procedures and safety rules
  • relevant school policies
  • what are your mentoring duties?
  • what to do if you are unavailable?
  • what to do if the student is absent?

 Mentoring – Making a Difference

Be yourself! Accept that students in the Program you mentor may have backgrounds, vocabulary, manners and values that are different from yours. By being yourself, by caring, by showing up and giving your time to mentor a student one to one you are making a difference!

Six features of effective mentoring relationships:

  1. have realistic goals and expectations
  2. be positive;
  3. have fun together;
  4. listen;
  5. give your student choice and voice in deciding on activities
  6. respect the trust your student places in you.

In accordance with the ACT Education and Training Directorate’s requirements, mentors are required to sign the Attendance Register on arrival and departure from the school and wear their identifying SVPACT badge while at the school. Check with your SVPACT School Coordinator for the school’s requirements.  Mentors are required to adhere to the ACT Education and Training Directorate’s Code of Conduct for Volunteers. 

 Thanks


Always remember that you are appreciated! Sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day operations of SVPACT and may forget to say, “Thank you”. You are certainly appreciated and we value the time that you give. 

Contact  SVPACT 

 

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