What works? A grounded theory of effective peer mentoring in secondary schools
By Jessica Powell.
The current research was carried out by a Trainee Educational Psychologist (TEP) between September 2013 and May 2015 in a large County in South-East England as part of a Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology. Using critical realism as a guiding epistemological position, the study sought to bring school based peer mentors and mentees voice to the forefront, by exploring their view of what works. The study aimed to offer a framework for understanding and developing peer mentoring relationships and inform safe and effective peer mentoring practice in secondary schools.This study was conducted using grounded theory methodology as a strategy of inquiry. Data was captured from semi structured interviews which were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed, assisted by MaxQDA. Purposive sampling was used to select nine participants from two secondary schools: of which 4 were peer mentors and 5 were mentees whom had participated in their schools peer mentoring programme during the academic year 2013/14. The BONDS model addresses the delivery of peer mentoring within the context of peer support interventions and secondary educational settings. The acronym ‘BONDS’ represents the data which emerged from grounded theory methodology as 5 integrated mechanisms which mediate effective peer mentoring. The model proposes that effective peer mentoring is synonymous with a nurturing experience characterised by ‘boundaries’ within peer mentoring, the ‘openness’ of the mentee to engage, the mentors abilities to build a safe and supportive relationship, the peer mentor and mentees ‘dual experience’ of the school system and ‘staff contact’ with mentors. This study adds to the limited body of research which explores the views of peer mentors and mentees engaged in peer mentoring programmes in the UK. The implications of the findings are discussed and good practice recommendations are made to inform the work of school staff, Educational Psychology services and other professionals working to support young people through school based peer mentoring. The limitations of the study are also addressed and suggestions are made for future research.