US in Schools Mentoring

The US in Schools Mentoring (USiSM) programme is designed to provide direct support for young people from backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education and have the academic potential to progress to university.

image of students talking

The USiSM programme

The University works with targeted local schools to identify young people who can benefit from mentoring support. Schools are asked to select pupils in Years 9, 10 or 11, who they believe have the academic potential to succeed in higher education, and meet specific Widening Participation criteria (see information for schools).

The selected pupils then meet with their matched student mentor in school, on a regular weekly basis during term time, throughout the academic year.

One-to-one Mentoring

Each mentor is placed in a partner school and matched with 3-6 mentees. Each weekly session will last around 20-30 minutes in school but outside of the classroom environment. The content of the sessions and action plans are agreed and reviewed by both the mentor and mentee, but topics they might cover include:

  • Study skills, homework and coursework support
  • University student life and finance
  • Help considering their future options, education, and career direction
  • GCSE or A Level options
  • Personal skill development (e.g. confidence, resilience, and time management)
  • The opportunity to ask questions and develop their aspirations

University visit

During the year, mentees will also have the opportunity to visit the University of Sheffield campus with their mentors. The visit includes a mentor-led session introducing pupils to university life, a tour of the University campus and/or accommodation and lunch in our award winning Students' Union.

Celebration event

At the end of the programme, all participants and their families/friends are invited to visit the University of Sheffield for our graduation style Celebration event. Each mentee is awarded a certificate, with special recognition for pupils who have engaged particularly well with the programme.


US in Schools Mentoring Guide

Information for schools

The US in Schools Mentoring programme aims to raise participants’ aspirations and their awareness of higher education through regular weekly 1-1 mentoring, during term time by our trained student mentors.

The benefits for schools participating in the programme

Schools often find that participation in the programme contributes to:

  • Improving pupil’s attitudes to learning raises aspirations and helps to improve attainment
  • Positive partnerships with staff and students at the University of Sheffield
  • Promotion of Widening Participation to Further and higher education
  • Raising the awareness of and aspiration to higher education to the wider school cohort
  • Enhanced or enriched curriculum through university mentors’ support and ideas
  • The school improvement agenda

Eligibility criteria

Academic criteria

Be on target to achieve a minimum of 5 GCSEs at Level 9 - 6 plus English at Level 4 if not already included.

Widening participation criteria

Must meet both:

Attend a State School

Are in the first generation of their family to enter Higher Education (HE) (other than siblings, or parents who attended HE as a mature student)

Additional - between one and all of the following:

  • Are from a low progression to HE area
  • Are a Looked After Child/Young Adult Carer/Estranged student
  • Are a student with a declared disability

Data Sharing

In order for the University to check the eligibility of pupils for the programme, partner schools will be asked to share elements of personal data of the pupils they wish to be considered.  This is covered by a Data Sharing Agreement that is part of the 'Mentoring Proposal' partner schools sign up to at the start of the programme. Parents/carers also sign a consent form when pupils apply to be part of the programme to enable data to be shared with the University of Sheffield.

You can see a copy of the Data Sharing Agreement in the 'Downloads' box to the right, along with details of our methods for securely sharing data between Partner Schools and the University of Sheffield and the Consent for Data Sharing Parents and Carers sign.


Data Sharing Agreement USiSM and Partner Schools (PDF, 124KB)

Appendix 1 Platform for Data Sharing (PDF, 101KB)

Appendix 2 Consents for Data Sharing from Parents Carers (PDF, 107KB)

Information for parents and carers 

If your child has been selected by their school to be mentored by one of our student mentors, you may want to find out more about what’s involved and how the programme works.

Current students from the University of Sheffield will be working as mentors in your child’s school to support them in a variety of ways. Generally, they will help your child (mentee) find out more about further and higher education, but they will also focus on things like:

  • Homework help, coursework support and exam preparation. Providing constructive criticism and signposting useful learning resources.

  • Study skills e.g. note-taking, revision, and time management.

  • Supporting personal skill development through activities that require critical thinking, confidence and teamwork.

  • Exploring mentees’ strengths and interests to map out future career/education pathways and set goals to achieve them.

  • Providing information and guidance about future career and education opportunities.

  • Introducing mentees to university student life e.g. study, finance, courses and types of institution.

Mentors are encouraged to focus on the areas above to help build confidence around your child’s capabilities. They hope to improve their attainment and raise their aspirations, directing them to sources of information to help them become more independent learners and make informed decisions about their future education and career choices.

Your child will meet with their matched student mentor, in school, on a regular weekly basis during term time to undertake 1-1 mentoring.


Guide for parents (PDF, 630KB)

Our student mentors

The mentors selected to participate in US in Schools Mentoring are:

  • Second-year undergraduates or above, who have usually faced barriers to learning in their own education

  • Only accepted on to the programme after taking part in a rigorous selection process, including an application form, group interview and receipt of a satisfactory reference

  • Required to complete an enhanced check with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) prior to working in their allocated school

  • Only sent into school once they have undertaken our comprehensive training programme delivered by the US in Schools Mentoring team, who are approved providers through NCVO Mentoring and Befriending. Training is also supported by the University’s School of Education and experts from within Student Services, the Careers Service and Student Finance

Mentor training consists of:

  • A two day session before mentoring begins covering topics ranging from establishing supportive relationships to child safeguarding;

  • Two Continuing Professional Development (CPD) workshops in December and February to monitor mentor progress and build on their mentoring skills in light of their classroom experience so far.

Apply to be a student mentor

Contact us


Phone: 0114 222 1027

Access Sheffield

Depending on circumstances, we may be able to give undergraduate applications additional consideration when we receive them.