Gender Equality Awards 2016: Engaging Women Award - Pinsent Masons

School Partnership Programme - Girls' Mentoring 

Award Type: 

In 2009, one of Pinsent Masons’ secondary school partners, Cockburn School in Leeds, highlighted concerns that recent GCSE results for female students were below expectations. The school suggested this was because some girls’ achievements were not being challenged and that some came from families where women were either unemployed or in low-paid work, with limited career aspirations as a result.

During 2010/11, Pinsent Masons worked with Ahead Partnership and recruited a group of female employee mentors to act as role models and provide tailored support. During  a successful two-year programme 58% of girls improved their attitudes to learning and 60% improved their attendance.

In 2013, the girls mentoring was re-launched at Cockburn School following the school’s request to change focus. The new programme benefits Year 10 ‘aspire and achieve’ students who are eligible for Pupil Premium and need support to achieve GCSE A grades and reach their full potential. The students meet their mentors monthly and work from a structured programme focusing on time management, revision tips and career aspirations. Sessions are also hosted at Pinsent Masons’ offices and the school provides training for volunteer mentors. Bespoke programmes, created in partnership with each school, enable Pinsent Masons to respond to the schools’ specific needs and issues. Each programme has a partner sponsor and a relationship manager, mirroring Pinsent Masons’ approach to client relationships.

Pinsent Masons surveys partner schools regularly and uses feedback from schools and volunteers to provide an enriching volunteer experience and continue to make a positive impact. Ideas and experiences are also shared across Pinsent Masons’ UK-wide network of school champions to ensure continuous improvement.
In 2014, the girls’ mentoring programme was supported by over 50 employee volunteers who donated over 410 hours of time.

Partner schools have credited the programme with a noticeable impact on pupils’ performance and an increase in pupils’ confidence and willingness to interact. In 2013/14, students maintained or improved their EMS levels or grades at the below rates:

  • Cockburn School (Year 10 girls): 90%
  • Greenwood School (Year 11/12 Girls Mentoring): 66%
  • Sarah Bonnell School (Year 10 girls): 47%

Over 60% of volunteers said their loyalty to Pinsent Masons has improved as a result of taking part in the programme and over 80% said their understanding of their local community had been improved. 75% said their communications skills had been improved and 50% said their influencing, coaching and team working skills had improved. 98% of respondents rated their experience as good or excellent and would participate again. The programme is running in partner schools in Leeds, London, Birmingham and Manchester.