Mentoring for students - film

Covered in this illustration of practice:

If a student is outpacing classroom resources or desiring increased more complex and deep learning in an area of passion, then providing opportunities for staff and/or community experts to mentor students in their specialist area can drive success and increase autonomy. As this film shows, mentoring can occur in any setting: rural schools, distance education, comprehensive schools and specialist settings, and in any subject or topic.

Mentoring programs are part of advanced learning pathways for students. They are a valuable tool to extend, challenge and inspire students across one or more of the domains. Mentoring can be a relationship between student and teacher, student and community expert, or student to student, where the expertise and passion of the mentor brings added depth, breadth, engagement and challenge to student experiences.

Watch Mentoring for students K-12 (2022) (11:36)

Mentoring for students - film


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this video may contain the images, voices and names of people who have passed away.


[On screen text] Mentoring for students


Voiceover – On the first day of year 5, a teacher greeted her class and suggested they share a little about themselves that might help her as a teacher plan for their learning needs. When it was Rafael's turn, he stated passionately, "I'm fascinated by string theory and antineutrinos." The teacher, who was not even sure how string theory worked, quickly ascertained she would need support to meet this child's learning needs. Her journey of exploration unearthed a university physics lecturer who was excited and willing to mentor Rafael. The email relationship lasted the year. And Rafael gained firsthand experience of the rigour of his mentor's profession and as a result was able to make a wise and informed career decision.

Mentoring can be a relationship between student and teacher, student and community expert, or student to student, where the expertise of the mentor brings added depth and dimension to student experiences. Mentorship programs are a valuable tool for identifying the potential and developing the talents of high potential and gifted students. They extend and challenge students in the intellectual, social-emotional, physical and creative domains.

The New South Wales Department of Education's High Potential and Gifted Education policy states that mentorships are part of advanced learning pathways that should be available and supported at all levels of schooling. If a student is outpacing classroom resources or desiring increased depth of knowledge in an area of passion, then providing opportunities for staff to mentor students in their specialist area can drive success. These students often desire more independence in, and control of, their education. Teachers can help drive this autonomy.

[On screen text] Mullumbimby High School

At Mullumbimby High School, staff are paired with students with high potential.

[On screen text] Greg Armstrong – Principal Mullumbimby High School

Greg Armstrong – Student mentorship at Mullumbimby High School has played a huge part in the development for our students and for their successes.

[On screen text] Amanda – Year 12 student Mullumbimby High School

Amanda: Miss Elliott is amazing and she has been my mentor for many years now since I first started. She's helped me with every aspect of my learning and a lot of my personal life as well.

[On screen text] Toni Elliot – Maths & Head Senior Studies Teacher – Mullumbimby High School

Toni Elliot – Amanda and I pretty much spent every day together. She's been in my maths class every day until she finished extension two at the end of year 11. It made me so happy that someone loved a subject so much and we could offer something for her.

Amanda – It is just amazing the things that you can do with mathematics and what you can explore.

Greg Armstrong – I think that Amanda feels very safe to come to school and to be able to work really hard and have the support around her for that to happen.

[On screen text] Beau – Year 11 student Mullumbimby High School

Beau – When I first came to school in Year 7, I shortly met Mr. Steven, who works as the software design development teacher at our school, and immediately we hit it off and we became good friends. He encouraged me to pursue software as a passion project. To this day, if I have a problem, I might come to him. His experience in the field is a really deep understanding of the concepts that I'm working with on a day-to-day basis.

Greg Armstrong – For example, Beau being able to do an HSC course in year 9, where he achieved a band six. The support he had from the head teacher and teachers was exceptional, and it would have been part of the reason why he was able to achieve the results he could, at a comprehensive public school in rural New South Wales.

Voiceover – Prairiewood High School in south-west Sydney successfully identifies high potential and supports this burgeoning talent with mentoring.

[On screen text] Nazli – Former student Prairiewood High School

Nazli – My public speaking and debating teacher was, I think, an integral part of my entire high school career because she actively went out of her way to give me extra resources to really feed my brain with things that I genuinely cared about.

[On screen text] Kimberly Oates – Teacher – Prairiewood High School

Kimberly Oates – I've been able to act not just as her classroom teacher, but also as somebody within the school context that she can come and talk to, bounce ideas off, someone she can talk to when things don't go to plan. I remember a number of conversations with Naz about saying - you cannot stay up till two o'clock every morning studying. And yes, you're doing 14 units and you're wonderfully intelligent and you're about to go to the state championships next week for volleyball and you've got public speaking coming up and state debating, how do we manage those things? How do we get some strategies for you to achieve all of these great things?

Voiceover – Onur, who had high potential in science, was successfully mentored by a teacher who extended him in the field of neuroscience and provided him with external opportunities, such as the Brain Bee.

[On screen text] Onur – Medicine Student Co-founder of Youth Neuro

Onur – Through the Brain Bee I met so many amazing researchers in the field, neurologists. And they inspired me further, and the level of passion they had for the subject, and I kind of saw that within myself as well. And that's, I think, what pushed me to push myself further in that field.

Voiceover – Onur has now become a mentor himself.

Onur – We came up with an organisation called Youth Neuro Australia. What we aim to do is basically engage and inspire people in STEM in general. We are trying to develop a program right now for students to work together with mentors, whether that be undergraduate students or real scientists, researchers from the field for them to come together and work on a project that they are interested in.

Voiceover – Students with high potential in the physical and creative domains can also display higher levels of performance than their peers. These students have unique learning needs that can be met through mentoring.

[On screen text] Endeavour Sports High School

[On screen text] James Kozlowski – Principal, Endeavour Sports high School

James Kozlowski – Every targeted sports program has a teacher mentor attached to it. They're there to monitor the well-being of the student and to support the student in all aspects of their school life and also beyond their school life. They're often liaising with parents, they're often liaising with external coaches. They really do take very much a second parent role.

Voiceover – The extended community is a human, cultural and professional resource for high potential and gifted students. No amount of knowledge about a field can ever substitute for a practitioner's passion for the field in attracting students to its content and methodology. Endeavour Sports High School liaised with universities to provide rich mentoring experiences.

James Kozlowski – I looked at some of the elite sporting organisations that we've got in this country, and I realised that they really didn't know what Endeavour Sports High School did. So quite often it was a case of a cold call by me to these sporting organisations to ask them whether they would be interested in seeing what we do here, and whether there was anything that they could do to support us to develop these students.

[On screen text] Professor Ross Sanders – University of Sydney

Professor Ross Sanders – We don't, we're not expecting that every person in the sports stream at these schools will become a champion. But what we are trying to do is help them develop to their potential and to help them make sure they're in the right playing position and the right sport to get the most out of their sport and to enjoy it to the maximum.

Voiceover – Microsoft have mentored Aboriginal students from Sydney's south-west, building on and expanding their cultural knowledge through technology.

[On screen text] Rosemeadow Public School

[On screen text] Stuart Keast – Instructional Leader – Rosemeadow Public School

Stuart Keast – This year, we were lucky enough to partner with Microsoft and In-digital for the Njulgang digital custodians project, where Aboriginal elders brought language and Dreamtime stories to the students, and we were then able to turn these into augmented reality that was available through an app on your phone.

Animation narrator Dharawalwulawalaga gamayaringiil dhadjanwari ngarawanlangga,

nguradha ngalayari nhay.

Voiceover – Student rock band, the Rions, turbocharged their careers with real gigs, studio time, and touring.

[On screen text] Barrenjoey High School

[On screen text] Tom – Year 12 student Barrenjoey High School

Tom – The school staff and mentors have been a really big help in our development as a band and with creativity. We had a teacher, a music teacher, John Stone, who was a very big influence for us and a big support. He brought us into the industry, gave us gigs around locally, even took us on a band tour up the coast all the way up to Byron Bay. It was a really good experience that kind of gave us the tools to kind of grow and get more into the industry.

Voiceover – Creating opportunities for older students to mentor younger students can be a great way to build strong and supportive intra- and inter- school culture.

[On screen text] Canley Vale High School

[On screen text] Rhianna Kalemen – Teacher – Canley Vale High School

Rhianna Kalemen – Tournament of Minds is a problem-solving competition that runs at a regional, state, national and international level.

[On screen text] Deborah Santucci – Principal – Canley Vale High School

Deborah Santucci – We've always had a strong partnership with our primary schools, but in particular, this year we've looked at developing our Tournament of Minds approach. And what we've had is our high achievers actually move into the primary schools and our high achiever students actually mentoring our primary school students.

Rhianna Kalemen – So my Google classroom was blowing up. You know, just congratulating each other, supporting each other, and sometimes students don't get to show that side of them.

[On screen text] Lansvale Public School

[On screen text] Maria – Student – Lansvale Public School

Maria – They also prepared us for the spontaneous challenge to how we should think creatively and work as a group well so we can gain more points.

Voiceover – Research demonstrates the positive effects for student mentees and student mentors.

[On screen text] James Ruse Agricultural High School

[On screen text] Chelsea – Student - James Ruse Agricultural High School

Chelsea – So at the start of year 11, we were given the opportunity to mentor younger students in mathematics because some people transferred to our school in Year 9, and it was a good way to help them get accustomed to the new academic culture in James Ruse.

[On screen text] Sowon – Student - James Ruse Agricultural High School

Sowon – I would especially recommend mentoring to students who are reluctant to ask questions in class, as the Year 11 mentors may be a more approachable source of help for them.

Voiceover – As an advanced learning pathway worth considering, mentorships have proven highly effective in the growth and development of high potential and gifted students from diverse backgrounds. As educators, we constantly need to optimise learning opportunities by creating open and informal mentorships between the school and community.

[title on screen] Find the high potential Develop the talent Make the difference

[title on screen] NSW Government logo

[title on screen] © 2021 NSW Department of Education

[End of transcript]

Questions for professional learning

For school leaders:

  • Mullumbimby High School has developed a teacher mentoring student model for their subject-accelerated students to flourish. How could you identify the advanced needs of students like Amanda and Beau in your school? How could you adjust the timetable to allow for effective mentoring? How could Mullumbimby High School extend this model to be used to benefit other students who show high potential?
  • Mentoring for individual or small groups of high potential and gifted students can provide deeper and more challenging learning opportunities. As a whole school, stage or faculty activity, brainstorm a list of possible mentors to which the school has access. Consider all domains of potential. How could this list be extended? What would be the next step?
  • As a school leader, how would you evaluate the impact of the mentoring opportunities offered to students and what evidence would you want to produce to demonstrate its effectiveness?

For teachers:

  • Mentorships involve linking high potential and gifted students with a content expert, who works with them to extend knowledge and understanding in a specific topic, subject or area of interest. As well as linking Rafael to a physicist to extend his knowledge of and passion for physics, what other kind of support structures do you think would assist him to further develop his talent?
  • In what ways can wellbeing be enhanced when schools connect with and draw on the expertise, contribution and support of their wider communities?
  • How can teachers discover what a student’s interests, knowledge, skills and activities are, outside of the school curriculum, and how can they use this knowledge to engage students further in learning? How might mentorships be used to facilitate this engagement and challenge for students?


  • Teaching and learning


  • Implement

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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