How to prepare a SELMA peer mentoring scheme?

Whilst young people are the best agents for change in their schools and communities, a successful and sustainable peer mentoring programme requires a dedicated staff member who is willing to invest time and effort to set it up. Follow these steps to help prepare your organisation, young people and environment to embed the SELMA peer mentoring scheme.

Preparing your organisation

Identify the staff member who will lead the SELMA programme in your school.

Secure backing from the senior leadership team by presenting the programme and how your young people can make a difference in your setting.

Recruit your peer mentors, ensuring that the group is as representative as possible of the wider school population. A diverse range of young people from a variety of year groups will help to ensure they are approachable and accessible to students throughout the school.

  • Find a suitable room where your group of peer mentors can meet on a regular basis. The frequency of your meetings is up to you, but a weekly meeting is recommended - particularly in the start-up phase - to maintain momentum amongst the group.
  • Peer support schemes can only be so effective when operating in isolation. Think about how you can embed a whole-school approach where everyone in the school community is aware of the SELMA peer mentoring scheme and involved in its delivery, be it through participation in module activities, attendance at information sessions and assemblies, or taking part in wider-school campaign actions.
  • Review the suggested pathways through the SELMA modules listed below. Select your range of modules to deliver with the peer mentors. The activities set out in the peer-to-peer sections are designed to be delivered by young people, so spend some time reviewing these with the group and practicing how they will be delivered.

Preparing young people

  • Encourage and support the peer mentors to deliver the activities within the modules and develop a delivery plan for the academic year. Each module contains two activities to choose from, giving peer mentors the flexibility to select the activity they think would be best suited to your particular setting.
  • At the start of the scheme, co-create a group agreement that establishes ground rules for how the group would like to work with each other over the year. Ideas might include being open and honest, respecting each other, teamwork, etc. For more ideas see the ‘More information’ section below.
  • Once the scheme is up and running, lead staff members may find it helpful to assign roles within the group to make the scheme more sustainable in the longer-term.
  • At the end of the academic year ask the group to train a new set of peer mentors to ensure sustainability of the programme.

Creating the right environment

  • Adapt the class layout: consider how you can create a flexible space to deliver SELMA activities. A different environment than a typical classroom setup can be conducive to learning about issues that might be sensitive. See ‘More information’ for further ideas.
  • Involve youth voice: in setting up a peer-led scheme, including young people in the development of a training plan for your peer mentors is very important. Consult with your students about their experiences and understanding of online hate speech to help you to choose the most effective pathway through the SELMA modules for your setting. Ensure you continuously evaluate any training or activities to identify ways to improve.
  • Dealing with disclosures: in any lesson that involves social and emotional aspects, and particularly with the sensitive nature of the hate speech topic, it is to be expected that young people will be open and honest in their discussions. This can lead to information being shared that may give you cause for concern over a child’s safety or well-being. It is important to follow your school’s safeguarding procedures in these cases and intervene in a way that protects the child.

See the ‘More information’ section for further advice about preparing your organisation and young people to implement SELMA.