GR8 Mates School-based Mentor Program - the Best!

The GR8 Mates youth mentoring program

The GR8 Mates youth mentoring program was a trial youth mentoring run in three schools, all of which were in mixed socio-economic areas, in New South Wales, Australia. It surpassed expectations and underlined how important a school-based mentoring program supported by a school principal can be. I believe there is a more urgent need for these programs to be introduced in schools in our post-pandemic global community. Members of the community entering the school each week to participate in the mentoring program are seen by all the students and add value to the school environment.

Mission Statement

The mission of the GR8 Mates youth mentoring program is to support young people, aged 14 or 15, to stay connected to the school, to feel safe and secure, to investigate their post-school options and to make positive life choices that enable them to reach their potential and live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Vision Statement

The GR8 Mates youth mentoring program envisions a community in which young people experience nurturing one-to-one relationships and community support, which in turn allows them to become the best they can be, capable of making informed, responsible decisions as they transition through school to further education or directly to the workplace.

Please contact Robin Cox for further information.


The GR8 Mates youth mentoring program, a school-based program, was trialed successfully in New South Wales, Australia, under the auspices of The Schools Industry Partnership (SIP) a not-for-profit organization providing career development and transition programs, with a specific focus on Senior School students (aged 12 to 19).

The GR8 Mates youth mentoring program followed all the Internationally credible Quality Assurance Standards. Volunteer adult mentors, aged 21 and over, met selection criteria and attended  a 21 hour mentor training program (in 2017 adapted to a 16 hour training program) which was followed by a short discussion with the Trainer to ensure that the volunteer was both suitable and ready to mentor adolescents.

The participating School appointed a Coordinator to facilitate the running of the program.

Volunteer mentors were paired with students, mostly linked to interests and hobbies, after some short matching, fun and educational activities. In the majority of cases the mentee (student) was matched with their first or second choice after meeting all the volunteers.

The volunteers met the students once a week during Term time for an hour. A Student Handbook, containing a variety of suitable activities, was used as a guideline for mentors to ensure that the Mission and Vision of the GR8 Mates program were being adhered to.

Towards the end of the school academic year a closing gathering was held to celebrate the mentoring partnerships, with mentors and mentees sharing the highlights of their time together. Some parents were also able to attend. In many cases, though the program officially ended at this point, mentors and mentees remained in touch, the latter requiring their parents or careers permission.

Feedback from parents is often difficult to gain, partly because a number of the students participating in the GR8 Mates programs were coming from difficult home situations. However, when one reflects on what a parent has seen with regard to their child’s development by the end of the program, it is so encouraging to see what is possible through a mentoring relationship. Robin Cox also believes that, in many cases, the mentees are able to return home during the mentoring program and significantly impact the lives of families and younger, even older siblings, as they share their personal experiences.

Some comments from parents whose children participated in the GR8 Mates program

“[My son] has benefited enormously. He has a more positive attitude to his schooling career and is generally more focused. He has chosen appropriate decisions when interacting with his peers. I think it’s a very valuable program and instills confidence, self-pride and power to achieve. EXCELLENT.”

 “Has helped [my daughter] become work oriented, self-confident, self-motivated. The program has also given my daughter an independent view of the workplace.”

 “Good, wise influence. The caring influence being added to [my son’s] growing up was priceless. Thanks for your efforts.”

 “My daughter seems very confident and can control situations in her life a lot better.”

 “[My son] was having some problems dealing with boys that were taunting/stirring him up. [His mentor] was able to provide an adult male perspective and help him through it. Many other things too. [My son] enjoyed the opportunity to discuss things confidentially with an adult male he trusted – would have liked it to go longer.”