How the One to One Maths Scheme Works
Volunteer prisoners who have good basic numeracy skills are selected to act as mentors. Their role is to recruit prisoners, known as mentees, who have no or limited basic numeracy skills to guide and support them through the One to One Maths learning programme. The benefit can be dramatic and life changing.
There is an enormous benefit for both the mentor and the mentee. The mentor undertakes an important and crucial role by assisting, encouraging and supporting his fellow prisoner to improve his numeracy skills whilst the mentee’s personal confidence and self-esteem grows with each lesson. For both the mentor and mentee, One to One Maths is an effective aid towards rehabilitation.
The learning takes place, not in a class room, but in a private setting wherever the mentee and mentor find they can comfortably and conveniently meet together for 30 minutes or so to go through the exercises in the teaching materials. The One to One Maths scheme is not difficult for someone to teach, but it does require a regular commitment from both parties.
Mentors have two roles to play. Firstly they are teaching and aiding mentees in their challenge to gain a better understanding of maths. Secondly they are the eyes and ears for the programme, able to assist through their first hand experiences in the format of future programmes. We, at One to One Maths, must ensure that the learning programmes are both relevant and effective and we therefore monitor the scheme in each of the prisons where it has been introduced. The mentor needs to have the following personal qualities:
- A non-judgemental attitude
- To be motivational and encouraging
- To be organised and committed
The personal benefit for the mentors and the mentees is immense and cannot be understated.
For the mentors, their involvement with the One to One Maths scheme improves their sense of social responsibility and increases their confidence and self worth. When released, they can quite proudly use their involvement with One to One Maths to promote themselves to future potential employers to demonstrate their willingness to co-operate within the prison to help others which in turn, we trust, will give the mentor a greater possibility of finding employment which is rewarding.
For the mentee, they will develop their confidence and self-worth whilst gaining basic numeracy skills that will assist them in finding employment opportunities on release. We hope that it provides them with the opportunity to undertake further educational activities which would have been considered off-limits without that fundamental grasp of mathematics gained under the One to One Maths scheme.
One to One Maths is most grateful for the continuing and invaluable support of the prison executive, staff and education departments.
One to One Maths provide a full range of teaching materials, free of charge, obtained from the leading educational publisher Schofield & Sims. Each session is geared to the specific level of each mentee’s level of maths understanding. The progress by a mentee throughout the scheme is monitored by both the mentor and mentee and is supported by achievement certificates. The educational material is not intimidating, is user-friendly and presented in a manner which does not cause embarrassment to a mentee who is lacking in basic numeracy skills. These are major influencing factors on whether or not a mentee will sign up to the project.
The material is set out in such a manner that the mentee can approach the scheme at any level, according to his abilities and requirements.
Within each book, there are tests which assist the mentees to build on their sense of achievement and to develop trust in their mentor’s ability to help them learn. This is an essential and fundamental key to any adult educational program. Without this feeling of achievement and affirmation of results, the mentee will easily give up on the programme and turn away from furthering their education in other subjects, especially if they are undertaking literacy based programmes.
One to One Maths provides training programmes for mentors, together with a useful and comprehensive tool kit. Emphasis is placed on the important aspects of mentoring, giving encouragement and agreeing short term goals which in turn are supported by monthly team feed-back sessions and progress review meetings. This training helps develop the mentors ability to teach and to give them the confidence to express themselves, to share their experiences and to develop their own personal and social skills.
Throughout his time as a mentor, the prisoner has the opportunity to consult with the training team on learning how to manage the mentees’ expectations. They are assisted in developing role model capabilities and on how to set out realistic goals based upon an individual’s ability. These skills are exceptional character building.
Special emphasis is given to promoting the One to One Maths brand in order to encourage reluctant learners to take that vital first step to ask for help. We supply a full range of promotional materials including posters, mugs, pencils, note pads, wrist bands and T shirts.
Benefits for the Prison and the Prison Staff
One to One Maths is a joint project with the prison.
It appreciates the support and encouragement given by the prison and education staff, whilst we at One to One Maths strive to provide that extra free resource to encourage the prisoners who reject the prison education system to become involved – not only to be involved but to see the benefits from doing so. One to One Maths provides, at no cost to the prison, all the material required for the programme.
Our aim is very much to act ‘a support tool’ to the prison education staff providing a vital conduit for reluctant maths learners encouraging them to take that all important step into formal classroom education.
Furthermore as the scheme is based on a mentor/mentee arrangement, there is no necessity to recruit new staff or to divert other members of the prison staff from their day to day duties.
This is a WIN – WIN situation, especially for both the prisoners and the prison.