Opportunity Plymouth logo
Opportunity Plymouth is a mentorship project committed to the growth, empowerment and future progression of young people whose learning and progress had been negatively affected by the pandemic.
Developed by Associate Professor in Education, Dr Suanne Gibson, Student Engagement Officer, Annette Goddard, and BA (Hons) Education student, Liz Staples.
Following a successful pilot year, funding has been approved to roll the model out across 10 Plymouth secondary schools in the 2022/2023 academic year. 

This mentoring programme has positive impacts on all stakeholders with empowerment at its core. Our work champions collaboration, choice and personal growth, while recognising and celebrating that success is personal and individual.

Liz Staples, BA (Hons) Education

Join the Institute of Education's information sessions

Book your place using the myCareer events calendar.

Opportunity Plymouth highlighted as an example of national best practice

The Opportunity Plymouth mentoring model has been highlighted by the Department for Education and Disability Rights UK as an example of national best practice, being noted as a progressive model of student mentoring in the Speaking from Experience, Getting it Right for Disabled Apprentices report. 
It was recognised that our mentors gain valuable skills, and school pupils gain both confidence and opportunities that help with future aspirations. 
View the full report. You can find Opportunity Plymouth on page 41.
Training students as mentors
During the 2021/2022 academic year we rolled out the Opportunity Plymouth pilot project. The pilot delivered trained mentoring support and engagement regarding post 16 opportunities to year 10 pupils at UTC Plymouth
Undergraduate students of Education were given the opportunity to become mentors. Working closely with the Careers Service we were able to provide professional mentoring training to the students who received a digital badge in recognition of their training and professional experience. 
The mentoring model was based on the theory of Possible Selves (Harrison, 2013) where an emphasis is placed on building self-esteem and raising aspirations. 
During the pilot our student mentors worked with a select number of Year 10 school pupils from UTC Plymouth, providing small group sessions over an eight week period. 

They helped me to find work experience and helped me to speak to people I did not know.


I felt that it was a good experience because it helped me with my understanding of work experience.


Mentor training included:
  • e-learning package of GDPR/safeguarding and prevent/disability awareness
  • LinkedIn Learning package of "Being a good mentor" and "Mentoring others"
  • attendance at a training workshop run by Annette Goddard, Student Engagement Officer within the Careers Service.

The experience has helped me gain a level of professionalism and provided me with an opportunity to be a source of information and guidance.

Student mentor


Levelling up

"This work is really important right now, at a time when we are working to level up in Plymouth and address the growing challenges that we as a society face in education"
Dr Suanne Gibson
"I personally want to thank all at the University for allowing us to come and see what you do. It's highlighted a real need for our kids and establishments like the University to come together to give kids a real focus for their future and really helped their self esteem."
School teacher Matt Treeby
Opportunity Plymouth mentor and student at the celebration event

Project collaborators