The role of the Family Learning Mentor in MAST

The role of the Family Learning Mentor in MAST

Sally Chugg
by Sally Chugg
Published on Apr 22, 2024
0 min read

Removing barriers to learning by early intervention to achieve positive outcomes for children, families and schools.

Presently, I have a unique role within the MAST team. I have a dual role as a counsellor and a family learning mentor supporting families within the home. Being part of these two teams within MAST allows me to look at these barriers therapeutically and practically: in homes and in schools. This blog will focus on my role as a Family Learning Mentor and how we work with children, families and schools at the earliest opportunity to remove barriers to learning.  

Barriers to learning in primary and secondary schools can vary widely depending in the context, region, socioeconomic factors, and individual student’s needs. Some common barriers that may hinder learning for children and young people schools are:

Socioeconomic Factors: Poverty can have a significant impact on a child's ability to learn. Lack of access to resources such as books, technology, nutritious food and healthcare can impede cognitive development.

Limited access to quality education: Inadequate school infrastructure, shortage of qualified teachers and insufficient teaching materials can hinder learning outcomes.

Language barriers: Students from linguistically diverse backgrounds may struggle to comprehend lessons if they are not taught in their primary language or if they face limited support in acquiring the language of instruction.

Learning disabilities: Conditions such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may go undiagnosed or unsupported, making it challenging for affected students to fully engage in the learning process.

Social and emotional challenges: Bullying, social isolation, trauma, and mental health issues can negatively impact a child's ability to focus on learning and interact effectively with peers and teachers.

Parental involvement: Parent/carers that struggle to engage and support a child's education can limit opportunities for reinforcement of learning at home and hinder overall academic progress.

Cultural and societal norms: Cultural biases, stereotypes, can create barriers for certain groups of students, leading to unequal access to educational opportunities.

Overcrowded classrooms: Large class sizes can make it difficult for teachers to provide individualized attention to students, leading to disparities in learning outcomes.

Physical barriers: Disabilities or health conditions that affect mobility or sensory perception may require specialized accommodations or support services to facilitate learning in the classroom.

Lack of access to technology: In today's digital age, limited access to computers, internet connectivity, and educational software can put students at a disadvantage in acquiring essential digital literacy skills and accessing online learning resources.

Family Learning Mentor Support

Examples of how early intervention offered by MAST in both a therapeutic and practical way are as follows:

I have the privilege of being invited into homes of some of our vulnerable families. Socioeconomic factors can be noticeable in the environment on visiting homes. This can create the first barrier in being able to access school. I have been the bridge between schools and home in communicating this and many times supporting families with their organisation, routines, finances and linking families in with other various and appropriate services.  Forming a relationship with parents and carers is key in supporting these families and moving them forwards.  Key to this is ensuring we take the time to listen and understand our families and that we are needs led, rather than working to strict processes and set time scales.  

My key role as the family Learning mentor is collaborating with parents and school, bridging the gap, and getting alongside parents so that they may have more involvement in their child’s education. Empowering them to want to be part of the school community, building their trust in schools and wanting to send their children to school.

I have introduced families to further support groups dependant on their need. This has included diverse and culturally diverse families that might need a more bespoke and tailored approach to ensure they feel heard and included.  Introducing them to these group creates a sense of belonging within the community and build confidence to access education by not feeling isolated.

We try hard to ensure that we work closely alongside school staff – ensuring that our targeted pupils are highlighted to relevant staff and their needs known and understood.  

Key to MAST support is our close relationships with our partner schools and working with them to pick up and address the needs of children and families early.  Our close relationships with schools (along with our weekly MAST intake panel) means we can discuss and respond to the concerns that schools have in a responsive manner.  When we are able to work in collaboration with schools and homes at the earliest opportunity, we are able to achieve and see some positive, long lasting outcomes for children and their families.