About Me: Lucy.

Author: Lucy Jenkins
Published: 4th June 2021

I joined MFL Mentoring at the end of 2017, inspired by the mission underpinning this project and with a wish to support all young people to see the central importance of languages and cultures to everything we do. I remain inspired every day by our young people, by our university students, by my colleagues, and by the possibilities for languages here in Wales.

I am a graduate of Cardiff University undertaking my BA in English Literature and Italian and my Masters in European Studies. On completion of my Masters, I joined a Community Interest Company (CIC) based in South-West Wales which used music and technology as a way to re-engage people in learning, training and employment. Through my work, I worked with young people with physical and mental disability, with young offenders, with young people in Pupil Referral Units, young carers and adults struggling with long-term unemployment, to mention just a few. Delivering workshops, developing curriculum and new tools to engage these people, as well as delivering accreditations, made me reflect again on the role of languages and cultures, and their pivotal role in developing social cohesion, personal confidence and as a driver of aspiration. I knew I needed to ‘go back’ to languages and after a couple of years honing my skills of engagement, delivery and partnership management, I found myself appointed as the Project Director of MFL Mentoring.

I have spearheaded the development of different activities, including most recently the transformation of the project to a fully digital programme. I have also led the expansion of the project to include working with over half of the secondary schools in Wales, and in developing project streams which target post-16 learners and creating teacher resources. I have also led the development of a partnership with the Spanish region of Castilla y León, adapting our model to look at how to support their linguistic context.

With great belief in the project, and a whole wealth of evidence to support its efficacy, I developed a sister project, Languages Horizons, in 2018 which received funding from the Department for Education, England. I led this project until its conclusion in 2020, following the Covid-19 pandemic. Language Horizons was a highly successful blended mentoring experience which involved developing partnership between Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Sheffield, Warwick University and Coventry University. Through this project I developed extensive experience in designing and creating online experiences as well as honing my understanding of user-testing and evaluation frameworks. I also learned that I thoroughly enjoy working on the interface between face-to-face and online experiences.

I have also had the pleasure of supporting multiple research grants associated with the project, everything from identifying potential funding sources, to delivering against our outputs. I have also published on matters relating to languages education, languages in Wales and mentoring as a tool to increase learner motivation. I enjoy enormously presenting our engagement and research at events nationally and internationally as both an invited and keynote speaker over the last 4 years.

Most recently, I’ve been involved in a prestigious programme called ASPECT which supports universities to develop their social sciences research into viable business propositions. As part of the programme I have learned new business skills that will allow us to grow and develop the project to reach more and more young people. Take a look at this blog or find out more about the training programme here. In our case, this is to ensure we can keep delivering our project and deliver more of it in more places, which in itself is a hugely exciting prospect.

Beyond my role at Cardiff and MFL Mentoring, I have recently been employed as an Education Consultant by the London School of Economics to develop a schools programme to support the British Academy SHAPE initiative, which aims to increase the visibility of social sciences, humanities and the arts subjects across society. This project takes a four-nation approach to the struggles facing SHAPE subjects and intends to find new ways to engage young people in the value of these subjects. We are developing learner resources and teacher training to support this ambition.

For me, working across education to disrupt and challenge perspectives is the most rewarding part of my job. As we look to reshape our world as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, the central role of languages and communication can’t be overlooked. We will be there reminding the world of their importance – you can count on that!

Follow @2210Lucy on Twitter.