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Home > News and views > Develop your professional skills by becoming an ESU mentor

Develop your professional skills by becoming an ESU mentor

Our network of trainers and mentors enable us to deliver our core oracy programmes: helping to improve young people’s speaking and listening skills and boost their confidence.

Our trainers and mentors come from a wide range of backgrounds and bring a diverse set of skills and experience to the classroom. But as well as passing on these skills to the young people that they teach; we also want to support our Trainers and Mentors with their own professional skills development.

That’s why everyone within our network is given ongoing training, resources, a dedicated regional Ambassador and a professional qualification in Child Protection.

But don’t just take our word for it!

Recently we asked one of our current and most active Mentors, Ameena Sullivan, how working with the ESU has impacted her career.

Hear what she has to say about being an ESU mentor…

Why did you decide to become an ESU mentor?

Prior to becoming an ESU mentor, I worked as a Maths and Science tutor. I’ve always loved the dynamic involved in teaching: helping people learn, sharing knowledge, watching people grow, being exposed to different ways of thinking. I had been involved with debating as an extracurricular activity, so being an ESU mentor offered me the opportunity to tie what I do in my free time together.

Why do you think it’s important to teach oracy skills?

In every aspect of my daily life, oracy skills have played a role – my ability to handle stress when driving, articulating why Love Actually is a terrible film, actually, and of course in my academic and political activities. Oracy is intrinsic to a strong sense of self and for an individual to be able to access their own beliefs. Unfortunately, there’s still an imbalance in students that can access these oracy skills – with students from disadvantaged backgrounds still missing out. Teaching oracy is an excellent way to work for sustainable equality and fairness in education, and the community at large.

What do you think young people get out of being involved in a programme such as Discover Debating?

Discover Debating is taught in such a unique way, through games and as much talk as possible. It gives primary school students a new environment to learn in: safe, fun and empowering. Students develop skills that will benefit them for life, without the conventional hurdles of classroom settings. Over time, students take ownership of their learning and emerge with confident and critical voices.

What have you learnt from being a mentor?

Ultimately, I have learnt how I can empower people. I have gained “hard skills” in terms of lesson planning, project management and presenting. I have gained “soft skills” in terms of creative and critical thinking. I have learnt to self-reflect and communicate, to listen and assess my own beliefs.

What opportunities have opened up to you as a result of being a mentor?

Working with the ESU has given me the opportunity to teach abroad and meet some amazing people –from inspiring young activists to professors carrying out cutting-edge research. Mentoring has given me the confidence to take on as much public speaking as I can, from conference presentations to stand-up comedy. I have recently started a research project with my university’s Higher Education Department (funding and all!), reviewing pedagogy in undergraduate teaching. I have been able to do this because of my professional knowledge from working with the ESU. As a hopeful PhD candidate, research experience like this is invaluable.

Would you recommend mentoring with the ESU and if so, why?

In a heartbeat – it is an unparalleled part-time job, with opportunities to travel, network, meet wonderful people and continuously learn something new. Aside from this, being an ESU mentor has been transformative to how I see myself, how I see my community and how I see the world.

Would you like to do something worthwhile whilst developing your own oracy and presentation skills’? Then apply to work with us


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