Fiona Morrison, Childhood Practice Manager at the Care and Learning Alliance (CALA), a third sector early learning and child care organisation, talks about her experience of mentoring in the service and the different ways CALA has used mentoring to support practice development.
‘I was fortunate enough to be mentored myself as part of the Synergy mentoring project while engaged in learning and development with the BA in Childhood Practice. The support and guidance offered by my mentor helped me develop my personal reflective practice, set my own short term goals and priorities and overall gave me confidence in my personal leadership to use this learning experience in a number of exciting new ways.’
‘CALA first started to develop mentoring when it was involved in a working group with the SSSC which piloted the recognition of prior learning (RPL) resource. CALA’s initial RPL project was trialled in 2011 with me as manager and an out of school club practitioner who was anxious about undertaking formal accredited learning, a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) level 3 in Playwork.
‘Working closely with Highland and Moray Accredited Training we developed a supportive process using the RPL materials to help this first candidate identify her personal skills, achievements and strengths, mapping her own early learning in a way that eased her very gently into the more formal SVQ process when it commenced. I worked closely with the worker and early on we developed a strong and trusting mentoring relationship. For me, this was one of the greatest benefits of this piece of work. Following review, the RPL developments have become an integral part of the CALA induction programme.
‘Building on both CALA’s and my personal mentoring experience has enabled us to develop the RPL project as a more robust workforce support.
‘My personal learning around mentoring continues to enhance my own work responsibilities and recently has helped me to secure an informal role of coordinator, advising and supporting colleagues as they take forward this focused support for new employees. Recognising this important development CALA has set aside an additional budget to meet this extra work.
‘My next goal is to progress a more formal quality review ensuring that CALA managers are confident in their supportive role and that we continue to meet the mentoring guidelines around setting targets and goals at the individual pace of each new member of staff.’