Transition Mentoring Scheme

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Youth
  • General resources

Basic details

Organisation submitting example

London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH)
- Targeted Youth Support
- Careers Service
15 Tower Hamlets Secondary Schools

Local authority/local area:

London Borough of Tower Hamlets covering eight LAP’s (Local Area Partnerships)

The context and rationale

The Transition Mentoring Scheme aims to support young people at risk of becoming NEET. The practice involves Targeted Support teams, the Careers service and all secondary schools in work operating over a ten month period between January to October every year. It allows schools to identify young people and refer them onto the Transition Support Team, who work with them over the next ten months to secure EET status. There is a better, closer relationship with the schools due to a drastic change in the service delivery and partnership arrangements within the school system. This, coupled with dedicated staff and the flexibility of local managers, allow tailor made support packages to meet every individual’s needs.

Tower Hamlets identified that many year 11 young people were becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training)/Unknown during their transition year into post-16 learning. It was recognised that many young people who fell into this category had a variety of issues including poor attendance, achievement, domestic and social barriers, and vulnerabilities.

In 2005-06 financial year Tower Hamlets considered and devised the Transition Mentoring Scheme due to an exceptionally high number of year 11 going from EET(Education, Employment or Training) into NEET destinations. NEET figures in Tower Hamlets during 2006-07 financial year was 10.9%; this was considerably higher than some of the other London East boroughs such as Redbridge, Lewisham and Havering but lower than neighbouring Hackney and similar to Newham. 

Tower Hamlets has a higher proportion of Bangladeshi NEET young people in comparison to their White UK and Black Caribbean/African counterparts and although this is the case, the White UK and Black Caribbean/African young people are over-represented within the cohort. 

In 2006-07, it was felt that the impact of Connexions Personal Advisers (PAs) was ineffective, with existing set ups of deployment within the schools where PAs were based. 

It was felt that the deployment of a PA in the school was not effectively supervised and managed as the schools had limited resources, and PAs were also working in such isolation that support from other colleagues was not evident. It was felt that to address this would not be effective. Using a different model to ensure the links with the schools remained strong and to identify at risk young people so they received intensive support was more preferable.

This had led to the development and roll out of the Transition Mentoring scheme in partnership with all 15 local secondary schools. This meant that PAs were no longer based within the schools but had links with the schools and were able to go into schools for appointments with young people. It also allowed for PAs to be centrally based where supervision was more effective, support from colleagues and information sharing was more effective and, in turn, outcomes were more positive.

The practice

The practice involves Targeted Support teams, the Careers service and all secondary schools. This work is operational over a ten month period between January to October every year. It allows schools to identify young people and refer them onto the Transition Support Team (TST), who then work with them over the next ten months to secure EET.


• Each school had to identify and refer the top ten young people identified as ‘vulnerable’, ‘at risk’ of becoming NEET, have Special Educational Needs (SEN) or Learning Difficulties or Disabilities (LDD) by the end of January. There are 15 schools in the borough which meant 150 referrals each year.

• Transition Support Worker (TSW) to engage young people, keep them motivated over the summer period by engaging them in positive activities, ensure they identify progression routes, making applications for their next steps learning offer (college/training) and continue to support and monitor until the end of October.

The Support – TSW

• Engage with the young person in school, visit them at home or in their community if they are a non - attendee (coordinated action with Attendance Welfare Officer (AWO) and school).
• Use a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) to identify the difficulties young people are facing. 
• Draw up an agreed next steps/progression route plan (recorded on Integrated Youth Support service (IYSS) Core+). 
• Regular one to one contact based on the need of the young person with a minimum of once a month contact. 
• Act as a lead professional/key worker to co-ordinate the necessary agencies in to support and engage the young person in overcoming barriers faced.
• Support the young person to resolve non career/job progression issues (e.g. family, substance issues) referring on to specialist agencies where appropriate.
• Broker onto positive activities/informal education motivational provision over the summer e.g. PAYP (Positive Activities for Young People), Activity Agreement, Summer University and other personal development programmes.
• Motivate young people over the summer period, ensure they get to their next steps learning place (accompany them where necessary) and ensure they settle in their next step provision and that it is sustainable. 
• Arrange work based learning placements where appropriate.
• Liaise with school and Career service (Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG)) PA to pick up young people from vulnerable groups to ensure support is in place. (Young people supervised by the YOT (Youth Offending Team), YISP (Youth Inclusion and Support Panel), Looked after children, Teenage parents). 
• Work with parents where necessary.

The benefits – young people

• Careers guidance interview by Tower Hamlets Career service (IAG) for those young people unsure of their next steps.
• Make an informed and sustainable choice post-16.
• Make an effective transition from pre- to post-16 learning.
• Receive ongoing support through induction, one-to-one support and regular interventions to monitor successful progression onto post-16 learning programme or employment with training. 

What it means for schools

• Schools to identify young people and refer onto LBTH Transition Support Manager and Career service (IAG).
• Schools to provide a named link person, ideally highlighting a Panel Co-ordinator to act as main contact with Transition Support Worker and Career service (IAG).
• Meeting between Transition Support Team (TST) and Career service (IAG) will take place to plan and discuss coordination of work.
• Transition Support Manager and Career service (IAG) will discuss every case identified by schools and allocate appropriate TSW/PA and agree actions to take forward. 
• TSW will provide feedback to school’s contact on each and every referral received.

The chronological approach to Transition Mentoring Work is as follows:

December – January 

• All 15 Schools identify the top ten ‘At Risk’ of becoming NEET young people.
• Each School makes a referral to the Transition Support Team.
• Transition Support Workers meet with the school’s link person to discuss referrals in more detail and use the school to be introduced to young people.

February - March

• Transition Support Workers (TSW) meet with Careers Advisers to share information, clarify roles of each team and establish a timeframe of careers support.
• TST arrange appointments and commence initial engagement with young people either through the school, after school, a home visit or other means where appropriate.

February - October

• TSW holds 1:1 with young people on a regular basis at school, office or offsite.
• TSW undertakes an assessment (CAF) to identify needs and barriers and creates an action plan to address this.
• TSW arranges IAG interview with Careers Service who explore options for further education/learning.
• TSW identifies other positive activities that young person can engage in and supports their attendance on this.
• TSW identifies post-16 learning provision and support for young person to secure September Guarantee.
• TSW monitors young person for up to six weeks in new provision ensuring they settle in and the risk of dropping out is minimised. 

Schools have indicated that they are happy with the outcomes of year 11 with the Transition Mentoring Support, the flexibility that is being applied as our TSW will go into the school or meet a client out of school for intervention, speak with teachers and teaching assistants where appropriate and provide feedback to the school on progress and development of young people referred.

The Youth and Connexions service provide a range of positive activities through the PAYP programme, focussed on school holiday periods, and these range from radio broadcasting, music production to BSM (British School of Motoring) theory and mechanics, residential training, enterprise, drama and conflict resolution workshops to fashion design, arts and crafts. Young people are also supported into retail, customer services, administration and construction type apprenticeships, in-house short personal development training, for example. 1:1 tutorial, ASPIRE life coaching and personal development programmes. There are also a range of educational courses and vocational courses ranging from Foundation Entry Level 1 – 3, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ), City and Guilds, A-levels, and BTEC in courses such as media, business, arts, retail, hairdressing, beauty and construction. 

Referrals onto PAYP and other education and apprenticeship courses are made through the support of the Personal Adviser, and the action plan will highlight the development of the journey with the overall aim of the destination. 

The Youth and Connexions Service prides itself on the partnership it has developed with the careers service, voluntary and community sector, further education and WBL (Work Based Learning) training providers in the borough and the surrounding boroughs. This is an essential aspect of the work provided by frontline staff, which enables staff to provide the extra ‘wrap around’ support during enrolment, monitoring the young person’s progression during a course/training programme, identifying any obstacles early and putting measures in place to minimise the dropout rate.

The costs of supporting approximately 150 young people along with in-house personal development opportunities total approximately £145K (£967 per unit cost including activities). This enables frontline practitioners to tailor activities and programmes to suit individual needs and support accordingly in order to positively progress and support a young person into EET.

Achievements so far

The impact of this work has contributed to a reduced number of year 11 young people leaving school and becoming NEET/Unknown. The work has also contributed to a reduction in NEET figures for Tower Hamlets and has allowed us to exceed our targets for the last two years. This has been as follows:

In 2008/9, 6.7% was achieved against a target of 6.5% (+0.2% difference).
In 2009/10, 6.0% was achieved against a target of 6.25% (-0.25% difference).
In 2010/11, 5.3% was achieved against a target of 5.5% (-.0.2% difference).
In 2011/12, 4.9% was achieved against a target of 5.0% (-0.1% provisional).

As good practice, we have a named a TSW for each school and they work closely with the school highlighting Social Inclusion Panels and identifying young people at risk at an early stage.


An initial barrier to rolling out this piece of work was the reaction from the schools as resources were being reduced. Tower Hamlets worked very closely with the schools, re-assuring them that the support to young people would not be affected but would be better managed with greater results and feedback. This required our frontline staff to work closely with panel members, teaching staff and provide regular feedback from senior management to head teachers.

There was some negative feedback from schools who were not convinced with this decision; we did have some poor referrals during the first year from some schools. This was eventually addressed as our first year of delivery proved the effectiveness of the Scheme; feedback from those participating schools was good and provided some re-assurance to other schools that were sceptical about this change. A great deal of time was spent in re-developing strong partnerships with schools to ensure regular communication, including providing progress on young people. 

Tower Hamlets ensured there were sufficient positive activities available within the borough so that young people could be referred onto these. Frontline staff linked in with Key Workers from the borough’s Positive Activities for Young People (PAYP) programmes and the Tower Hamlet’s Summer University, so that staff could present Positive Activities opportunities and make referrals onto activities. 

Systems and processes had to be developed and co-ordinated with all partners – schools and learning providers over time to ensure communication flow was good; partners were able to provide more targeted learning opportunities according to the young people’s academic level, offering additional support where possible on top of the support provided by our frontline staff.

Key leadership behaviour characteristics
The following core behaviours have been identified as part of successful elements of leadership (see National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services/C4EO (2011). Resourceful leadership: how directors of children’s services improve outcomes for children. Full report. Nottingham: NCSL see ). 

London Borough of Tower Hamlets identified the following behaviours as key to the transformation of their service:

1. Demonstrating a belief in team and people – leaders and managers alike had to work closely with frontline staff to ensure clear direction and support was provided where required. Ultimately, frontline staff took young people through a journey from NEET to EET.

2. The ability to create and sustain commitment across a system – regular monitoring and review meetings with the schools and other partners involved ensured that a core system of delivery was in place and regulated.

3. Focusing on results – results played a vital part in demonstrating to schools and also satisfying ourselves that the drastic decision made by our leaders/managers was necessary and were the right choice.

4. The ability to simplify – the process had to be simplified for both schools and our frontline staff including other partners that were involved in the process. This simplification ensured there was less confusion amongst partners involved and the process was simple to follow. 

5. The ability to learn continuously - all staff are qualified for the role they are appointed in. However, creating a culture of learning is fundamental to its delivery and ensuring success is achieved. We have a network of learning opportunities for our staff including Corporate learning, Team building, Team meeting, Senior Managers Team meeting, Staff away day, Joint providers away day. We use all these vehicles as a sharing and learning opportunity. One of the key themes we embedded in our delivery was to consider every young person as a learning partner where inter-action between PA and young people are very much on a level playing field. We have regular one to ones and Performance Development Reviews where learning goals are identified. LBTH recently received IIP (Investor in Young People).

C4EO Golden threads

The C4EO golden threads that apply to this example are:

From good to great - Leadership, vision & embedding is key 

You can do it - promoting resilience 

Unite to succeed - the right support at the right time

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