External Evaluation 2021

What do our stakeholders say about our project?

The following are extracts from our external evaluation, completed in October 2021 by Alain Thomas Consultancy. Overall, we are delighted that the feedback was very positive. We have included quotes obtained through the evaluation from our key stakeholders

The mentors who were involved in the evaluation were very satisfied with their role and their involvement in the project. Many commented enthusiastically about the process saying things like:

“I just would reiterate that I think it’s amazing. I love doing it. I think the company, the organisation, is fantastic….and I’m just really happy to be a mentor to them…. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and the experience I get through doing it as well”.

“I think it’s great. The staff they seem to run this project on a tiny team and a relatively small budget. They obviously manage to support those students which is great….I’ll be happy to keep doing the mentoring with students.

“I do enjoy mentoring young learners to motivate them further”.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of it. I have been involved since it started, I believe. It has added something to my day and I am really grateful to have had the opportunity

“….this is all online and I can be flexible. I can answer messages on the go. If I’m having a break I can go on and mentor and send messages so it’s quite flexible. They don’t expect you to be on it every single day but then they don’t stop you either so there’s no pressure, it’s very flexible”.

Mentors and teachers spoke eloquently about what they saw (and welcomed) about the unique qualities of the project.

For example, a mentor said:

“I don’t think there’s another project like this where you can mentor online and (a mentee) can get access to a mentor (who can help) with access to university or your career ….five days a week”.

A teacher commented:

“I don’t know anything else that is on offer to schools in Wales that is similar to this programme. The fact that it offers coaching and mentoring three times a year, that it is open to a wide range of age groups is special. The fact that it is open to anyone, that kind of equity is very important”.

“I think it’s unique in the way it is used to represent people from those (relatively deprived) backgrounds I was talking about. Those people often slip through the cracks. So I think it’s unique in that it acknowledges there’s a big gap to be filled in terms of getting people from different backgrounds to university. A lot of those kids get left behind”.

“Well it’s unique in the way that they’re able to bring together lots of professional or academic mentors and link those up with students. We do that to some extent in school, but having a project focused on that and having a particular, safe way of connecting mentors to mentees is very useful. I am not aware of any other projects that are doing that”.

One interviewee also commented on the lack of administrative barriers resulting, in part from the project being well planned and organised:

“…. They do a lot of the outreach and all people need to do is say ‘yes’. I think actually with a lot of other processes that I have been involved with, there are a lot more hurdles, for both parties, in order to get there in the end. You just have to say yes, it is sorted for you”.

Students’ responses from the evaluation were as follows:

“I didn’t know much about university and what it could offer me. My mentor helped me understand what I can do for my future, and she helped give me a solid idea of what I want to do”.

“It has helped me gain understanding of the career path I want to do but it has also given me multiple options and has helped me understand possible other options of work”.

“….when I was doing my work experience my mentor explained to me what to expect. She even gave me ideas on the questions to ask during the work experience itself”.

“The talks at Morriston Hospital helped me to realise the kinds of medicine I didn’t want to do. It was an eye opener. The talks made me think about radiology.

“I wasn’t sure which part of nursing I wanted to do, but with the mentoring it’s helped me clarify what I wanted to do. My mentor was helpful and answered all the questions I had. Gave me a real insight into the role”.

Overall, mentors gave very positive feedback about the difference made to students. They said things like:

“For some of those that I’ve mentioned, they said ‘Oh I didn’t know that piece of information’. Or ‘I just learned that now’. They get so inspired as well….. When you start talking to those learners, when you give them your experience some of them say ‘you’re an inspiration’. …. It gives them motivation, it gives them guidance as well, they don’t feel that they’re by themselves, someone us listening to them…. I wish I’d had that when I was younger, I had to do everything by myself.

“I was the first person in my family to go to university. The only doctor that I knew was my GP. It is quite challenging to get sound advice from somebody, there is a lot of misinformation out there…. It took me a number of years actually to get sound advice. One of the benefits that I really hope mentees get is they have that ticket to get that advice from people who more or less really know what they are talking about. And it is removing barriers to them. So I think it has been really useful to do that”.

“I think it has made quite a bit of difference actually…. We ended up developing a really, really nice working relationship and at the end of it she said about how it increased her confidence and her ability to apply for university and made it seem more of an attainable goal for her…. I think it makes a difference in terms of not just learning skills but self-confidence and self-belief.

Comments from teachers included:

“I think that having anybody who is at a professional level that a student can go and ask questions about a career, I think that’s useful for them”.

“….the feedback from students is good. They felt like they knew much better at the end what they were doing, where they could go, the tips for getting into that area as well”.

“It has proved invaluable and I know that the students who had the work experience wanted to go into that area as a career pathway. So I think for them to have that experience has been fantastic. I think it has boosted their confidence as well. I cannot fault it. Those who have engaged fully have got a lot out of it”.