More information

In this final section, we provide more background information on the kind of strategies you may wish to follow when developing and implementing a SELMA peer mentorship scheme.

Firstly, we give more detailed guidance on how to prepare and support a group of young people (‘SELMA Mentors’) to deliver SELMA modules to other young people (‘SELMA Mentees’) within your organisation. Remember, SELMA is aimed at young people aged 11 to 16. SELMA Mentors should always be older than SELMA Mentees.

Secondly, we will elaborate on how to adapt class layout and activity styles, the usefulness of learning agreements, possible actions to overcome barriers to success, and how to recruit students to be peer mentors.

Setting up the SELMA peer mentoring scheme

Structure, roles and responsibilities

a) Structure and roles

The SELMA peer mentoring structure relies on three key roles, and one optional role:

  • SELMA Mentors
  • SELMA Mentees
  • External Trainer (Optional) – SELMA Partners will be delivering free training and outreach between March and September 2019. Contact your local SELMA Partner to find out more.
  • Professional Lead



Who this is


SELMA Mentors


The young people who will be trained to deliver the training to their younger peers.

To work in small groups, and with the support of the Lead Professional, to deliver training to SELMA Mentees.

SELMA Mentees


The young people who will receive training from SELMA Mentors.

To participate in training activities run by SELMA Mentors (number of Mentees dependent on activity as stated in toolkit).

External Trainer


Person who trains the SELMA Mentors (external to your organisation).

To deliver SELMA training to the SELMA Mentors.

Lead Professional


Person who trains the SELMA Mentors (internal to your organisation) – instead of External Trainer role above.

To deliver SELMA training to the SELMA Mentors.


Person who supports the SELMA Mentors with follow-up once they take on the role of training their younger peers (person internal to your organisation).

To provide the SELMA Mentors with ongoing support as they prepare to deliver sessions themselves.


  • External Trainer role is greyed out because this role is optional – the SELMA Mentors can be trained by the Lead Professional instead.
  • In the case that training for SELMA Mentors is delivered by an External Trainer, it is key that the Lead Professional is also present, to provide the follow-up function effectively.

b) Roles explained

Lead Professional role

As a Lead Professional, your role is to:

  • Become familiar with the SELMA model, the overall structure of the toolkit, and the range of modules at your disposal.
  • Recruit a team of SELMA Mentors from within your organisation.
  • Arrange for an external SELMA training to be delivered to the SELMA Mentors or prepare and organise to deliver the session yourself.
  • Schedule a series of follow-up sessions with the SELMA Mentors to support them in preparing to deliver SELMA training sessions to SELMA Mentees. They will be working in small groups to do so. Ideally, they will be delivering the same module they were trained to, so if they are keen to explore another module, it will be important for you to build in extra time in your follow-up sessions to train them in the new module. SELMA Mentors should always experience the activities as participants before learning how to deliver the module.
  • Arrange times for SELMA Mentors to deliver 30-minute sessions in peers, using the arrangement that best suits your organisation.
  • Ensure that you, or another responsible adult, is present for the duration of the training delivered by the SELMA Mentor – and that the SELMA Mentor knows that you/ the responsible adult is on hand to support them where necessary.

SELMA Mentor role

Once trained, SELMA Mentors will be responsible for delivering training to their younger peers, in small groups, and with the Lead Professional’s support.

To deliver training effectively, SELMA Mentors will need to cultivate (not necessarily start with!) three key skills:

  • Facilitation techniques. SELMA Mentors may think that because they’re delivering the training, they should be the ones speaking all the time – make sure they know that’s not true! Actually, a really effective training session almost appears to be run by the participants themselves. To create this dynamic, SELMA Mentors should be encouraged to ask questions to, and stimulate discussions among, participants. It’s important that they pause when someone says something, for example, and ask “That’s interesting, why do you feel that way?”, rather than immediately moving onto the next step. Most of the modules include guiding questions, so these should help.
  • Confidence. SELMA Mentors are unlikely to all have the same levels of confidence – and that’s completely fine. What’s important is that you encourage them to see this as a learning process, in which they are going to grow and develop – and keep getting better and better. They don’t have to start off ‘perfect’. It’s also a great idea to encourage young people to begin by reflecting on their strengths. Would one of the SELMA Mentors like to be responsible for walking around and supporting participants during the activity? Would another like to be responsible for setting up the room and preparing all the material? This is a real opportunity for teamwork.
  • Public speaking. Some of the SELMA Mentors may feel a bit daunted by the prospect of public speaking. As they’re delivering in small groups, it’s fine for one of the Mentors to play a more supportive role to start with. However, do encourage them to push themselves over time. Remind them that public speaking skills are developed over time and through practice, rather than being something that people just naturally have or do not have.

Overview of the SELMA peer mentoring process

The diagram below illustrates the SELMA peer mentoring process:

Key things to note

a) Training of SELMA Mentors

Due to the sensitive nature of the topic that SELMA addresses, it is critical that:

  • SELMA Mentors experience a training session as participants first, before going on to train their younger peers.
  • A Lead Professional that is internal to the organisation delivers the SELMA training to SELMA Mentors, or is present for the training received by SELMA Mentors if this training is delivered by someone externally.

b) Safeguarding

  • It’s important that SELMA Mentors know what to do in case any concerning issues arise during or after their training delivery – like if one of their peers approaches them to express something that caused the SELMA Mentor to be concerned about the safety or wellbeing of that person, or somebody else’s.
  • It’s key that SELMA Mentors know that they are supported and should not try to step in to solve any issues themselves. Instead, because you or a responsible adult will be present for all training sessions, SELMA Mentors need to be aware of the procedures for getting adult support.
  • Namely, SELMA Mentors will need to follow your organisation’s safeguarding procedures if any disclosures are made to them. It may be a good idea to create a safeguarding agreement together as a team that is signed and regularly reviewed.

Next steps

Once you’ve finished reading through this material and feel confident you’ve understood what a peer mentoring scheme entails, it’s time to get comfortable with the SELMA material.

Head to the SELMA Toolkit and have a wander around – this is your opportunity to really engage with the material, get comfortable with it, and then support your SELMA Mentors to get comfortable with it, too.

Good luck and we look forward to your feedback!

Additional tips and Tricks

Adapting class layout and activity styles

You might like to consider adapting your class layout to suit the SELMA activity taking place. A different environment may be conducive to a wider range of teaching and learning approaches. The list below summarises some of those approaches that are particularly suitable for SELMA.

Agony aunt/uncle

Small groups of three to four. Each group takes on the role of an agony aunt or uncle. The group is asked to respond to an imaginary emotional problem or scenario. Groups may wish to share their solutions.

Buzz group

Small groups of three to four. Groups are asked to discuss a dilemma or situation for a short, specified time, then return to the large group to discuss ideas.


Half the group forms a circle facing outwards. The other half forms another circle around them, facing inwards. Each person in the inner circle should face someone in the outer circle. Each pair can be asked to talk about an issue or dilemma. Partners can be changed with ease by one or another circle moving round one place.

Circle time / Circle discussion

Structured discussion where all participants sit in a circle – representing an inclusive and safe environment within which to discuss an issue or idea. Uses strategies such as silent statements (change places if you think that...), stem sentences (what I’m looking forward to most about becoming an adult is...), optional rounds (thumbs up if you’d like to say something about...) and open forum discussion.


Each group considers the possible options and consequences of a situation. It is important to consider realistic consequences, both positive and negative.


An imaginary line is drawn down the room. Students are told that one end of the line represents one extreme viewpoint, and the other end represents the opposite view. Statements relating to a particular issue are read out, and students stand along the continuum according to what they think. Students may discuss their view with someone else nearby, and/or with someone who has a different view.

Corridor of conscience

Class line-up in two lines as ‘corridor’ the individual walks down. Each child/young person in the corridor shouts out suggestions/advice/feelings to the individual walking. Could be used to explore a moral dilemma.

Data search

Children/young people search through a selection of resources to find out information and answers to questions. Children/young people could devise their own questions, or set questions for another group to answer.

Debate - active

Children/young people have to decide to agree or disagree with a statement and move to the corresponding part of the room. They then discuss their opinion with other people in their group and decide upon the three main reasons why they have chosen to take that side, these are then shared with the class. Everyone is given an opportunity to change sides if convinced by the arguments of another group. Can be expanded into strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree.

Debate - formal

A motion is decided on for discussion. Two opposing views are then presented to the children/young people with relevant information or supporting evidence. After a question-and-answer session and discussion, the group votes for or against the motion.

Drama / role play/simulations

Can be facilitated by theatre in education groups.

Draw and write

Children/young people are asked to draw and/or write in response to a specific question, (e.g. in the box draw yourself showing where you might be standing when watching an argument developing. Write about these changes.) Can be used as needs assessment before a unit of work and/or assessment afterwards.


Various groups of children/young people are formed, each with a different task or issue to discuss or research. After a given amount of time, a representative from each group goes to another group to relate the key points or findings to them.


One group performs an activity while the others sit around them and observe. The audience may be asked to observe generally, or to look for specific things. They could have a checklist of things to look for.

Graffiti boards

Children/young people are asked to write comments/opinions/facts onto a large piece of paper that can then be displayed. Alternatively, each person may be given a piece of card, which can then be part of a ‘wall’ to which they all contribute. Interactive ICT Educational software can be used. Children/young people can also be given use of video recorders/digital cameras/computers to prepare presentations on a given topic.


Children’s literature can be combined with techniques such as hot-seating of characters/ agony aunt letters.

Mind maps

Write an issue, topic or problem in the middle of a page. Branch out from the centre with the main themes and continue to branch out the ideas as far as possible.


A distancing technique that can be used to discuss issues that are sensitive or embarrassing.

Question boxes / ask-it baskets

Children/young people write down questions, anonymously if preferred, and post them in a question box or ask-it basket. The staff member or other students may choose to answer.

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, it may prompt a wider range of learning styles and classroom arrangements in addition to driving student engagement.

Learning agreements

When discussing topics of a sensitive nature it is important to ensure that all involved understand the expectations and controls surrounding a session in order that all involved feel safe and protected.

To ensure those expectations are clearly understood, it is important to share them in the form of a ‘Learning Agreement’ at appropriate points in the programme, in particular those activities that involve the sharing of feelings, emotions and opinions. This may include the following advice:

  • Look after yourself and others in the class!
  • Treat one another with respect!
  • Confidentiality - think about what you are saying; that it doesn’t make someone feel uncomfortable or that it is not confidential information that you are talking about!
  • Think carefully when you are discussing issues of race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, culture and religion!
  • Active participation - be prepared to work in pairs/groups. You have the right to pass on an individual
  • question if you feel uncomfortable but the responsibility to participate in discussions!
  • If you are upset by anything said in the class, make sure you know what to do and who you can talk to about it!
  • Remember that we are trying to encourage everybody in our school to make a positive contribution to minimising bullying, and we all want to work towards that aim!

It is always worthwhile re-visiting these points throughout the lesson sequences to reinforce these clear expectations into class culture. As part of a wider school culture these values should be seen valuable in promoting a culture of acceptance in all matters.

Barriers to success

It is to be expected that any new programme or initiative will come with its challenges. Consider some of the suggested actions below to overcome these potential challenges when implementing SELMA:

Staff and student engagement

Start with a small group of committed individuals. It is much easier to set achievable milestones and build on success when working with a smaller group at first.

Senior leadership buy-in

Senior staff setting the tone for the programme is key to success, so consider presenting the benefits of the programme and setting out how they can support you to implement it.

Parental engagement

Think about ways to raise awareness amongst parents about the peer support programme, for instance through your school’s social media or website, with parent info evenings or through your parent-teacher association. A small group of engaged parents can be key to the success of a peer mentoring scheme.

Time and resources

Getting support from the school leadership team is key to securing resources that may be able to help you. Also consider the long-term sustainability of the scheme: whilst time, resources and energy are required more intensively at the start-up phase, your Peer Mentors can start to take on responsibility from you, for instance by running meetings and reporting back.

Recruiting students to be peer mentors

  • Raise awareness of the role throughout school. Think about noticeboards, social media and parent emails as good ways to reach interested students
  • Design a simple application form for keen students to complete. When reviewing these ensure you involve young people and staff in the judging panel.
  • Consider how you will ensure a diverse mix of students and a good range of skills in your team. All Peer Mentors should display the following qualities:
    • Passion for tackling online hate speech
    • Ability to work well as a team
    • Understand importance of role modelling positive online behaviour to others
    • Approachable and friendly
    • Representative of a range of ages and friendship groups
    • Leadership and teamwork skills
    • High levels of social and emotional skills such as empathy
    • Responsibility, commitment and ability to take initiative
  • You may wish to consider a group of approximately 15-20 students, though this will depend on the size of your school. Think about perhaps starting small and recruiting more students once the scheme is established.