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UCL in conjunction with the Brightside Trust, a mentoring charity, has launched a bespoke mentoring scheme for students at the UCL Academy, the UCL-sponsored school in Swiss Cottage. The project sees 65 current UCL students, a mixture of undergraduate and postgraduate volunteers, mentoring 245 Level 1 students (12-14 year olds) and 70 Level 3 students (16-18 year olds).

The UCL mentors visit the school roughly once per month to meet individually or in small groups with their mentees. The mentors help the Academy students to make informed decisions about their future and serve as role models by offering advice on topics such as subject choices and post-16 and higher education options. The mentors are provided with prompt materials to aid discussion of areas such as student life, budgeting and revision techniques. In between the face-to-face meet-ups the Academy students are able to communicate with their mentors safely online through the Brightside platform, which is full of helpful articles and resources. The mentors are able to share their experience of higher education whilst also developing important skills through working with the young people.

Mark Copestake, UCL Education Partnerships Manager, explains:
“We piloted a mentoring programme with the Academy last year and found that it is a fantastic way of increasing student links between UCL and the UCL Academy. The UCL volunteers are great role models for the Academy students, especially where the pupils don’t know anyone else at university or don’t have anyone in their family who has been through the UK higher education system.”

Geraldine Davies, Principal at the UCL Academy, said:
“The UCL mentoring programme is a fantastic opportunity for our students and is a wonderful example of how UCL can have a positive impact on the confidence and aspirations of students at the Academy.”

Fiona Addison, Volunteering Development Coordinator in the UCLU Volunteering Services Unit, comments:
“The enthusiastic response from students to be involved in the UCL Academy mentoring scheme exemplifies the interest students have in UCL’s partnership with the Academy. With over 60 UCL student volunteers and the collaboration of 4 partner organisations – Brightside Trust, UCL Students Union, UCL and UCL Academy – it is the largest school mentoring scheme the VSU has ever supported.”

Hannah Steele, Education Projects Coordinator at Brightside, adds:
“Brightside is delighted to be working with UCL and UCL Academy on this innovative mentoring programme, and we are excited by this opportunity to strengthen links between the Academy and the University. It’s inspiring to work with the UCL mentors and help so many students develop and achieve their ambitions.”

The mentoring programme runs alongside an extensive programme of partnership activity, including a learning companion scheme where sixth form students receive academic support in their A-level subjects from UCL students studying the same or related subjects; and a successful lecture series which sees some of UCL’s top academics delivering monthly lectures in the school’s state-of-the-art lecture theatre.

If you would like any more information about UCL’s partnership with the UCL Academy, please contact Mark Copestake on

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