Posted on 3 June 2003
Patrick Scott, Director of Education for the City of York Council, said: "It is unusual for a university to have such a well-developed scheme involving quite so many students and it is particularly rare for a university of the calibre of York to be so closely involved with the local community. The scheme is distinctive and special: it helps schools and the LEA by actually doing the impossible, giving the teachers another pair of hands. This is the kind of initiative that changes lives."
He added: "YSIS gives the students a sense of purpose beyond their degree work and helps them to connect with society in ways that give meaning to their lives. It helps them discover what they want to do with their lives."
YSIS coordinates all school-based volunteering at the University of York. It incorporates the the Student Mentoring Programme, the Student Tutoring Programme, and other learning support schemes. Students support classroom teachers to help children realise their potential and raise their achievements and aspirations, thus promoting the Government's Widening Participation scheme.
The scheme has become immensely popular with schools: "YSIS is proving a splendid asset to York schools and their pupils," said Celia Crumplin from All Saints' RC School. "Student volunteers are encouraged to become part of their schools and are valued by pupils and staff." David Thewlis, Head Teacher of St Lawrence's CE Primary School agreed: "YSIS's voluntary service to the community is outstanding. The children really enjoy the time the students spend with them. From Nursery to year 2, a volunteer is in class every day. The school could not achieve this other than by the YSIS scheme."
Nearly 400 students were placed as student tutors this year. "Student tutors are enthusiastic, reliable people who give up half a day a week for 10 weeks to provide assistance to teachers and bring new ideas to the classrooms," said Lyn Whiting, YSIS coordinator. "We're delighted to win this award. It's a marvellous recognition of the students' commitment to helping in the community."
"They help children of all ages (3-18), across all areas of the curriculum, from sport and drama to science and technology, and also in lunch time and after-school clubs. Overseas students help children from other countries to settle in to York schools; native speakers of French, Spanish, German and Italian help with language lessons, students with specialist expertise work individually with gifted and talented secondary pupils in maths, science and English, while literacy support for less able pupils is particularly welcomed."
Students who have taken part in the Student Tutoring scheme can join the Student Mentoring Programme. This involves being a mentor to a pupil - usually in year 10 or 11 - and providing support and encouragement as they prepare for GCSE examinations. The University of York Student Mentoring Programme is part of the City of York/NYBEP scheme and particularly benefits those pupils who are unsure about whether to continue to a sixth form, pupils who do not reach their potential at school because of peer pressure, or who are nervous about moving to a large college after secondary school.