Birkenhead Sixth Form College has been recognised for its educational innovation on a national scale after reaching the final three in the Sixth Form College Association Awards.

The College has been shortlisted for the SFCA’s (Sixth Form College Association) ‘Curriculum Innovation Award’ for its unique Academic Mentor Programme, run in partnership with the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, which sees undergraduates visit the College to offer peer-to-peer mentoring to A Level students.

"There are so many examples of hard work, creative thinking and shared endeavour, which are making a real and sustainable difference to the lives of young people.”

The Sixth Form College Association

First piloted in the Humanties department in 2014, the scheme saw three students from University of Liverpool working with small groups of the College’s A Level Sociology students. Since then, the programme has expanded exponentially and now over 25 mentors offer advice and guidance across nearly a dozen subjects.

In fact, the scheme proved so valuable not only to the A Level students but the Liverpool University undergraduates themselves. As a result, the Geography department at the prestigious Russell Group university have started offering the Mentoring programme as an optional module for its final year students who are interested in the teaching profession.

Sociology teacher at Birkenhead Sixth Form College and scheme leader, Claire Morgan, said: “With some A Level students, we’ve seen a real improvement, and we’re talking grades. In some instances, we’ve had students moving up two grades, so it’s making a significant impact with their confidence and their academic ability.”

Scheme leader Claire Morgan (left) with the team of Geography Mentors

Claire explained that the relationship built between mentor and student plays a key role in helping the student develop, and that the scheme benefits performers of all levels.

She said: “We like to focus on exam technique and revising. Some of the mentors like to do mind-maps with them and really try to get them to add depth and detail to increase their marks. With some students that aren’t as strong, they found that working on key terms is important and help them to revise in that one-to-one environment – quizzing and testing to help build their confidence.”

The Sixth Form College Association Awards is in its debut year and the winners will be announced at a special ceremony in Nottingham on 14th June.

The SFCA said: “The SFCA Annual Awards initiative represents an important opportunity to identify, celebrate and showcase exceptional practice across the dedicated sixth form sector. In this, the inaugural year of the awards, we have been surprised and delighted by the number and quality of entries. There is clearly an enormous range of good practice in colleges, and so many examples of hard work, creative thinking and shared endeavour, which are making a real and sustainable difference to the lives of young people.”