Big Brothers Big Sisters: Mobilising peer support in schools: An evaluation of the BBBS school based mentoring programme
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Brady, Bernadine , Canavan, John, Cassidy, Anne , Garrity, Sheila, & O’Regan, Connie (2012). Big Brothers Big Sisters: Mobilising peer support in schools: An evaluation of the BBBS school based mentoring programme. Galway: UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Mentoring Programme was established by Foróige in Ireland in 2001. The programme has two strands - a community-based programme which facilitates a friendship or ‘match’ between a young person and an older adult in the community and a school-based programme which‘matches’young people starting secondary school with an olderstudent in the school. The school based mentoring programme is essentially aimed at supporting the transition of young people from primary to secondary school and helping them to feel settled at school. As part of the programme, young people in their first year of secondary school are mentored by a fifth or sixth year student in the same school. Through participation in the programme, it is expected that mentees will have the opportunity to develop a supportive friendship in a safe environment, increase their confidence and selfesteem, have a positive role model in their lives and have fun. For senior students who opt to become school-based mentors, the programme offers the opportunity to undertake a voluntary leadership role within the school and provides valuable experience which can assist in their personal and professional development. The programme was developed by Foróige over a number of years from 2003 onwards and, following a phase of rapid development in recent years, there are now 65 schools operating the programme in Ireland, spread across 14 counties. The majority of schools operating the programme support up to 30 matches each. Foróige / BBBS Project Officers work with participating schools in implementing the programme. Schools are asked to agree to the programme protocol, to provide a link teacher to liaise with BBBS staff and to support the programme by providing time and space for the matches to meet. BBBS programme staff provide training to the mentors and mentees, which covers topics such as mentoring, listening skills and child protection. Evaluations of matches are undertaken at mid-point and at the end of the academic year. The purpose of the study is to describe the BBBS schools mentoring programme model and assess the perspectives of stakeholders regarding how well it performs its intended functions (Rossi, Lipsey and Freeman, 2004).
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