How to demonstrate the impact of a peer support programme and how to ensure the programme becomes sustainable within your setting

A primary school and secondary were interviewed regarding their experiences of setting up and running a Peer Support for Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Programme in their settings. The headteachers and a selection of peer mentors from each school were asked a series of questions around how they set up their successful programmes, the process for recruiting the mentors and mentees and, how they incorporated the 5 core principles into their training.

Hear their stories below:

Case Study - St Benedict's Catholic school

Case Study - Firs Primary School

Case Study - Copthorne Primary School

The Peer Support Programme at Copthorne Primary School is led by Amer Kahn who is the school’s Learning Mentor and Extended Schools Coordinator. Amer attended the two-day training session run by the Anna Freud Centre, with the Headteacher, Christabel Shephard.

After the training (which focused on 5 core principles), the two introduced the project to all school staff during a staff training session to ensure they had buy-in from all, and that they understood the purpose of the project; to help the mental health and wellbeing of the children in their school.

Amer and Christabel decided Year 5 pupils would be the peer mentors. They asked Year 5 teachers and pupils to make recommendations for pupils to become peer mentors, asking the pupils who they would turn to for help and who they would confide in. They were all very clear about who they thought the mentors should be.

Amer approached the recommended pupils and explained the project to them. The successful applicants were interviewed; the strongest candidates were chosen to be one-to-one mentors and the others were given roles as ‘spotters’ who would keep an eye out for any children they thought would benefit from mentoring.

The successful candidates’ first task was to go through the results of pupil surveys (which had been carried out as part of the initial steps) and decide what the programme should look like. They concluded the sessions should:

• Be 1-2-1 sessions rather than group sessions
• Take place during lunchtime rather than after school
• Ensure confidentiality
• Be held in a quiet room which is private
• Have pupils referred by teachers as well as self-refer
• Have games and activities available
• Be called ‘Talk It Out Team’

The teachers took all of these suggestions on board. They converted an old photocopier room for the peer mentoring sessions to take place in and the new mentors chose the colours and furniture for the room. They bought lockable boxes for self-referrals which were placed in three main areas in the school. The pupils wanted to be clearly recognised as peer mentors so the teachers ordered different coloured school jumpers with the school logo and ‘Talk It Out Team’ embroidered on the back.

The teachers launched the programme in a whole school assembly where the peer mentors explained their role and how and when pupils could speak to them. They showed their jumpers and told the pupils about the feelings boxes that were around the school, and display boards were places around the school.

The one-to-one sessions are held at lunchtime in the designated peer mentor room. The mentors and mentees have lunch together and talk. They have games, colouring sheets and a booklet to work through. The mentors are left unsupervised but Amer is nearby throughout the session. The mentors go to Amer at the end of each session to ‘check-in’ and to raise any concerns they may have as a result of what they discussed with the mentees in the session.

After weekly meetings with Amer, they allocate a mentor to mentee and introduce them to each other.

The mentees have found the programme invaluable and have grown in confidence, building better relationships with their peers. Their attitudes have been more positive and they are more confident in talking about the problems they face.

The mentors have also benefitted greatly; they have grown in confidence, being able to speak in assemblies and in approaching their peers. They are actively able to recognise when someone may be feeling upset or sad and can either deal with it or inform a relevant adult. They are clear about what they can deal with and what they need to pass on.

The peer support programme has been included in the school development plan and will continue to take place in the school for the foreseeable future. Amer and Christabel intend to train Year 4 and Year 5 pupils and will ask the current Year 6 mentors to help deliver the training. They will continue to highlight the programme in assemblies and will hold competitions to raise awareness.

Facilitator Toolkit - Chapter 5
Toolkit Pic.png (1)

Read more about demonstrating impact and building sustainability in Chapter 5.

Download the toolkit and supporting documents here.

Training Slides - Workshop 5

Download the training slides that were delivered in the Peer Support Pilot two day training Programme:

Demonstrating Impact and Building Sustainability: Workshop 5 slides.


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