Oxford Brookes University 27 April 2017
The STAMINa Mentoring Network is a group for mentoring scheme coordinators, administrators, and champions from across a range of sectors, including the private and voluntary sector as well as higher education. In this way, we hope to be able to learn from and disseminate a wider range of good practice. The network is based upon a project funded by the University of Oxford's ESRC Impact Acceleration Award in 2016/17.
Often new mentoring schemes have great success with mentors and those who are mentored having a very positive experience. But how do we keep them running and improving year after year? Crucially how can we grow and develop a mentoring scheme? What are the principles of sustainable mentoring schemes that we need to understand? What are the key roles, the must have resources and how do we go about evaluating and measuring impact?
The STAMINa Mentoring Network Workshop was held at Oxford Brookes University on 27 April 2017 and attended by over 30 participants.
The workshop was set up around presentations which introduced key issues and then explored them through the experience of coordinators of existing mentoring schemes. Often there is guidance for those taking part in a mentoring scheme but there is very little support for those who set up and run schemes. This workshop looked at beginning to address that gap through providing a framework of support and resources.
Over 30 participants involved in coordinating, or looking to set up, a mentoring scheme, being a mentor or coach themselves or involved in a widening participation, STEM or other engagement initiatives.
Principles of Sustainable Mentoring Schemes
In this session a series of important principles were identified that constitute the STAMINa framework and help ensure the sustainability of a mentoring scheme. These included, in particular, a clear purpose for the scheme as well as, recruitment, and selection of participants, administration and marketing, monitoring and evaluation.
Understanding Key Roles
In this session the participants collaborated on a draft job description for the ideal mentoring coordinator, trying to identify the key skills and knowledge. This led to a very long list of essential and desirable qualities which included resilience! The coordinator job description is one of the resources that the STAMINa network is producing. The coordinator’s role was then explored in more detail through an analysis of a centralised and a decentralised model of mentoring and the differing challenges that the models raised.
Managing the Data
In this session the participants discussed how best to manage mentoring scheme data information. This was an important session for coordinators thinking about developing or growing the numbers on their scheme. Issues such as: what kind of data might need to be managed; important issues around anonymity, safeguarding, and CMA compliance were raised. Whilst the cost of software will nearly always be an issue, one of the key takeaways was that smaller schemes can run and manage data successfully with standard software, and that ensuring that a scheme is well designed and managed before any specific IT system is purchased is important. There were a lot of questions in this session about scoping for the ‘right’ software system and some of the key questions to ask of a provider were identified. An important conclusion was understanding that whatever system a mentoring scheme makes use of, whether it’s paper, email and Excel, a bespoke in-house data management system or an off-the-peg software package, no system actually does the work for you, although it can help make it easier.
This session explored the range of resources required during the life cycle of a mentoring scheme. This was examined through three very different types of mentoring schemes, ranging from small numbers to several hundred and across different sectors. The discussions form part of thinking about a ‘resources audit’ for mentoring schemes as an important resource that the STAMINa network could produce. Some of the key resources required by mentoring schemes include resources to support application processes. Whilst schemes make use of electronic and online applications, interviews, personal checks, and, mentoring committees or panels are also part of the application process. The other key area that requires resources is monitoring and evaluation. Evaluation of a mentoring scheme tends to involve two different types of evaluation; first usually at the end of scheme the mentoring process is evaluated and then later, the evaluation of the impact on the person who was mentored.
Ask the Panel
There were lots of questions in the final session, which ranged from issues about training for mentors to how to deal with difficult mentoring situations. The wide variety of questions brought home two important conclusions. First, however much planning and managing goes on, mentoring is about human relationships and they can be unpredictable. Second, there is a real need for support for coordinators of mentoring schemes.
We are looking for other people passionate about mentoring to join the network and support the sustainability and sharing of good practice across schemes. Contact us via
LinkedIn Group STAMINA - SUSTAINABLE MENTORING NETWORK
Facebook: STAMINA Mentoring Network
Please see more information about the project associated with the development of the Network below.