A GROUP of guardian angels are helping younger children at Trinity Catholic High School gain confidence not only in their studies, but in their day-to-day school life.

Sixth formers at the school take part in the Guardian Angel Scheme and have taken on the role of "minder" for pupils, helping them to get the best out of their studies and support them when the going gets tough.

It was created from an idea of headteacher Dr Paul Doherty, who discovered that research carried out showed the best support is given within the class.

The scheme has a Year 12 and Year 13 student looking after a younger pupil in the school by sitting with them in a lesson.

Their role is to help with their work, focusing on specific problems or struggles they may have and helping to increase the pupil's confidence in the classroom.

The "angel" is assigned to one pupil and will follow his or her progress even when not in class with them.

For the pupil who is receiving the extra guidance, it is a way in which they can be helped and not feel embarrassed because it is carried out in a friendly and informal way.

And for the students who are guardian angels, the reward is that they provide a worthy service in the Trinity school community.

Since the scheme was set up in October 2000, the number of volunteers wanting to be guardian angels has risen to over 50.

And the students themselves feel it is a worthwhile initiative.

Guardian angel Sarah Arekion, 17, said that the experience has brought many rewards for her.

She said: "Being assigned to a particular pupil, you do build up a rapport and feel good if you have helped overcome a problem in their studies.

"Even things like encouraging them to participate more in class or be better at spelling, gives you pride that you've helped them do this."

Fellow guardian angel Carleen Gbeho, 16, said: "Sometimes it can be hard, especially at the start as that pupil may not want your help. But slowly you break down any barriers there may be and it becomes an enjoyable experience."

And 18-year-old Miles Williams said that being a guardian angel also enabled them to learn new skills in communicating and how best to help others.

He said: "From our experience we're finding more ways of helping the pupils. You find different ways that benefit and it's always good when you see that they work."

The scheme, which is purely voluntary, has the guardian angels sitting in with their assigned pupil in a lesson once or twice a week.

They will work in with the class teacher and both will have a tracking sheet, which is updated regularly, to keep a check on the progress made by the pupil.

The guardian angel acts as a go-between between the pupil and the teacher, helping them to stay on task and make the best use of the lesson.

Lorraine Wells, 16, said once an understanding was developed with the pupil, it became easier to help them out.

She said: "At first you have to get them to trust you, but once they do and they know that your help will benefit them, it works really well.

"Once, one of the pupils I was assigned to had a particular problem with how to remember something, so together we devised a way of tackling the problem. It's important when we're helping them not to just tell them what to do, but also to encourage them to find a way of helping themselves. Our role is to guide them."

All the guardian angels said one of the nicest aspects of taking part in the scheme was the rapport that grew between them and the pupil.

Joanna Pollard-Collings said: "After a while you become more of a friend to them. Often you see them throughout the week, pass them by in the corridor and they say hello. It's very good for the school as a whole."

Each guardian angel is given a special brooch to wear, which they are told to wear with pride.

Some of the students have been promoted to being an arch guardian angel.

These students are responsible for helping to run the scheme, attending lunchtime sessions, training programmes and discussing the various issues that may come up with different pupils.

They also liaise with senior teachers, pass on information to other guardian angels and update information around the school.

Teacher Rose Krzyz, who helps to oversee the programme, said: "The guardian angels are very important to the school. They willingly give up time to spend with the younger ones and help them in their lessons. They are indeed a credit to the school."