Mentors

To support our In-School Volunteers we have former or current primary school teachers, also working pro bono, who provide expert guidance as needed through the school year. This can include joining a volunteer’s session with a child.

Mentors may also wish to be involved with training of In-School Volunteers or with development of learning resources.

We hugely appreciate our Mentors and we recognise how much they contribute to the development and improvement of the work of the charity.

If you have experience as a primary school teacher, are passionate about improving maths education, and are willing to volunteer your expertise, you could be a Mentor for Number Champions. It is a great way to keep contact with teaching for a modest commitment of time. Please see below for the FAQs for mentors and email us for a discussion.

FAQs

What is the role of the Mentor?

The Mentors support our In-School Volunteers with practical advice on helping children with maths. There are several aspects to the role. You can choose to engage in all or only some of these:

Support through the school year. The Mentor supports our In-School Volunteers at one or more of our partner schools. You will meet your volunteers at the start of the school year, either in-person or remotely, and you will arrange periodic contact through the year. Volunteers will, from time to time, contact you with questions, such as how to work with a specific child or how to structure a session to help a child with a particular skill.

Training: We train our In-School Volunteers before they start in a school. The Mentors develop and run the training, which gives the volunteers basic knowledge about young children, school maths for that age, and how to help children learn. The centrepiece of the in-person training session is the use of manipulatives to represent maths concepts, with the volunteers getting hands-on experience. The goal of the training is that the volunteers will be able to access resources and advice and will be confident in working with children.

Visiting volunteers in schools. During the year, Mentors can join each volunteer in a session with a child to give them support. This can include, for example, showing a technique beforehand which the volunteer can practise with the child. The goal is for the Mentor to act as a ‘personal trainer’ to help the volunteer improve their skills.

Developing resources: The Mentors identify online resources or develop new resources to support our In-School Volunteers in their work with children. We make these available on our website so that they are easily accessible, both to our volunteers and to a wider audience.

How much time do I need to give?

The overall time commitment is flexible and can generally be adapted to your requirements.  Most of the role can be done at times to suit you

Typically, Mentors will give a few hours a month, although this will be spread irregularly over the year.  The more schools you choose to work with, the more In-School Volunteers you’ll be supporting, so the greater the time commitment. There are typically three volunteers per school.

 

Can I be a Mentor if I will be away 3 or 4 weeks during term time?

We appreciate that you are a volunteer and that you have your own commitments.  We can generally make arrangements for another Mentor to cover for you.  So, if you can be available to support volunteers for most weeks during the school year and can also advise us of any unavailability, you can certainly be a Mentor and make a significant contribution to Number Champions.

What support and training will I get?

We recognise that Mentors bring their own extensive experience in teaching, and we do not provide specific initial training.

From time to time we arrange for Mentors or external speakers to provide webinars on specialist subjects as a form of ‘continued professional development’.

Our network of Mentors also meet as a group (typically online) to share experiences and ideas. This also feeds in to the charity, helping us to understand how we can continue improving all aspects of our intervention and operation – including how we support Mentors.

We also have an Area Leader in each geographical area who provides administrative support. These take responsibility for recruitment and administration of In-School Volunteers so that Mentors can focus on educational issues. For further details, please visit our Area Leader page.

What will be the geographical extent of my area?

This will vary depending on how many schools you wish to cover. However, most of the role is performed remotely – and the support of volunteers and development of resources can be completely remote. So, geography is unlikely to be a limiting factor.

Do you pay travel expenses?

We will pay reasonable travel expenses as described in our Volunteer policy. We encourage all our volunteers to use public transport but we will pay car mileage and even parking costs if there is no reasonable alternative.

 

 

I retired several years ago, can I still be a Mentor?

Mentors need to be confident with current classroom practices. We interview all candidates, so we can together evaluate if your experience is appropriate.

How do you know that your intervention has a positive impact?

We have developed our intervention based on discussions with experienced teachers, incorporating ideas from existing literacy schemes in which volunteers support children learning to read.  We have also consulted with academics specialising in maths education in primary schools. We continue to refine our intervention based on feedback from volunteers, Mentors, and schools.

At the end of each school year, we ask the class teacher of each child we work with to evaluate the child’s progress over the year compared to the rest of the class on both confidence and skills. This uses a five-point scale from ‘very much better’ to ‘worse’. Teachers have consistently rated a very high percentage of children showing an observable improvement in both categories.  For example, in 2022-23, 86% of children showed a measurable increase in confidence with maths, 79% were more engaged in classroom lessons, and 83% showed a measurable catch-up in attainment with the rest of the class.The detailed results are shown in our Annual Reports.

We have an intervention which professionals predict will succeed and which has shown consistent positive impact. However, we want to continue to improve the quality of our intervention and to get external validation of our results.

We have made initial steps towards establishing a partnership with independent academics who can evaluate whether we achieve improved outcomes for the children we work with. A statistically meaningful analysis will require tracking hundreds of children. Our goal is to achieve this by 2026-27.