Media release: Edinburgh rolls out award-winning MCR mentoring programme as part of commitment to the Care Review

Iain MacRitchie

THE City of Edinburgh Council and award-winning charity, MCR Pathways, have joined forces to expand a life-changing mentoring Programme throughout the capital.

This news follows the recent Care Review’s recommendations which, highlighted the vital need for relationship-based practice in schools, including mentoring, to better support young people with experience of the care system.

The Care Review Report states: “Mentoring has a significant positive impact on children and young people who receive it, with evidence that it can improve educational attainment. Schools must also be supported to encourage and develop mentoring relationships for those who would benefit.”

MCR Pathways will help disadvantaged young people in Edinburgh, including those who are care-experienced, to build aspirations and fulfil their potential.

Edinburgh’s commitment is to support and inspire 500 young people, over the next three years – to want to stay on in school, get the most from their education and progress with confidence to college, university and employment of their choice.

The expansion in Edinburgh closely follows the publication of ScotCen’s independent three-year study on MCR Pathways’ relationship-based mentoring programme. The study found that MCR mentoring is making a statistically significant impact on educational outcomes for Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people.

ScotCen found mentoring delivers a 25.3 percentage point increase in the number of care-experienced young people progressing to a university, college or a job. In another measure, the attainment gap was closed.

MCR Pathways’ Young Edinburgh Talent has been very successfully piloted at Craigroyston Community High School Edinburgh since October 2018 and will immediately be rolled out to a further eight schools – Broughton High School, Drummond Community High School, Forrester High School, Gracemount High School, Leith Academy, Liberton High School, St. Augustine’s High School and Wester Hailes High School  – giving a full city footprint

At the core of the MCR programme are weekly mentoring sessions between a young person and their mentor, who commits an hour of their time to meet in school each week. Mentors are fully trained and give their time to listen and encourage a young person.

Building caring and trusting relationships is at the heart of the Care Review Recommendations and MCR mentoring is a highly effective way for this to be implemented.

MCR Pathways is now looking for more volunteer mentors to get involved and help reach young people across the city. Andrew Kerr, City of Edinburgh Council’s CEO is leading by example with his commitment to become an MCR mentor, whilst encouraging his colleagues to sign up.

Andrew Kerr, chief executive of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “I am thrilled that many more young people, throughout Edinburgh, will be able to benefit from mentoring and the wider MCR Pathways programme. This programme works and we have already seen the huge success it is having at Craigroyston Community High School.

“I encourage fellow Council colleagues and members of the public to get involved and help us improve the lives and futures of our city’s young people. Together we have the power to help them flourish. The recent Care Review highlighted the vital need for positive nurturing relationships to support care-experienced young people and I believe that, with this partnership, MCR Pathways will play a vital role in helping us fulfil our corporate parenting role.”

Established in 2007, MCR Pathways provides support to almost 2,300 young people throughout Scotland each week. Going citywide in Edinburgh is the latest development of MCR Pathways’ national rollout. The Scottish Government is now being called on to make MCR mentoring a permanent feature of the education system and a right for every care-experienced pupil.

The recently-published Independent Care Review has emphasised the necessity of incorporating education, Third Sector and other caring adults into Scotland’s reformed Care System and giving vital support to schools for them to encourage and develop mentoring relationships.

Iain MacRitchie (pictured), founder of MCR Pathways, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be partnering with Edinburgh City Council and secondary schools to launch the Young Edinburgh Talent programme in the Capital. We are seeing across Scotland the transformational difference that positive relationships and role models can make to young people, not to mention the powerful and positive impact it has on the mentors.

“Our work in Edinburgh is an important and fantastic milestone in our journey. It enables us to help more young people who will flourish with the one:one support an MCR mentor can bring. We are very excited to be working with council colleagues, schools, and our partner organisations in Edinburgh to help our most disadvantaged young people to be determined by their talent and never their circumstances.

“Our vision is that every care-experienced and disadvantaged young person in Scotland gets the same education outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as every other young person. With the strength and depth of our partnerships with Local and National Government, we can make this happen across the country.”

Audrey Cumberford MBE – principal, Edinburgh College, said: “Edinburgh College is really pleased to see the formal introduction of the life-changing work of MCR Pathways to Edinburgh Schools.

“We have been working closely with Dr Iain MacRitchie and his team, over the last 18 months, to create a physical home for the organisation in our Granton Campus and many of our lecturers and support staff have been selected and trained as willing mentors, waiting to be matched to the right young person.

“The college would highly recommend mentoring to all of our educational and industry partners in Edinburgh as a brilliant way to support our young people to rise to their potential!”

Further information on the MCR Pathways programme and how to become a mentor is available at

Volunteers will be fully trained – they just need to give an hour per week to change a life.

Case studies

* Three students from Craigroyston Community High School, who have been mentored, along with one of their mentors, will attend the launch and be available for interview and photography

Mentee, Danna, and her mentor, Sarah 

Danna was 14 when she was matched with her mentor, Sarah, a retired university professor. At the time Danna was a quiet student and lacking in confidence. Danna says: “I was a bit confused about what I wanted to do with my future. But like when I got my mentor it’s kind of opened new doors and I now see the different opportunities and what I can do in the future. I appreciate education a lot more now because I realise that coming to school can actually be extremely beneficial for me.”

Sarah has already noticed a difference in Danna’s confidence and focus and the pair enjoy meeting weekly. Sarah says: “Danna is much more outgoing and she’s been through some tough times and, she’s come through the other side. She’s on track for being the best she possibly can be and also being happy.”


Carol-Ann was matched with her mentor, Maddy, last May. At the time, she had poor timekeeping and didn’t always take school seriously. Now, Carol-Ann shares that her mentor is a great listener and helps reassure her when things aren’t going too well. She’s become a lot more engaged with school and the pair work together to overcome challenges and help Carol-Anne focus on her future.


Reece has just recently met his mentor. He was particularly keen to be matched with someone who has similar creative interests, such as cooking and writing. Reece tells his MCR co-ordinator in the school, Laura Keast, how pleased he is to see his mentor each week, being “one of the best things about school just now” and Laura has already seen a difference in attendance.


Issued by Headline PR on behalf of MCR Pathways. For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact Jill Creighton on:

07775 862552

Notes for editors:

MCR Pathways multi-award-winning mentoring programme helps Scotland’s care-experienced and disadvantaged young people achieve the same educational outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as all other young people.

Founded in Glasgow in 2007, MCR Pathways operates in all Glasgow secondary schools as well as schools in Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire, Edinburgh, North Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Shetland and West Dunbartonshire and currently supports over 2,300 young people each week.

At the core of the MCR Programme are 50-minute weekly in-school meetings between a young person and their mentor, who listens and provides encouragement. Mentors come from all walks of life and commit to supporting a young person in school for a minimum of a year, ideally two. They are trained and supported by MCR throughout and the impact has been proven to benefit the mentors as much as the young person.

External research shows that MCR mentoring has made a significant and lasting impact on young people’s confidence, belief and self-esteem, as well as on school staying-on rates, attainment and progression to positive destinations – college, university, and employment. MCR began tracking the impact of mentoring in 2014 when the number of care-experienced young people progressing to positive destinations was only 54 per cent.

A three-year independent study conducted by ScotCen using internationally-renowned research methods was published in Jan 2020 showing the transformational impact of MCR’s relationship-based mentoring programme.

The findings show an average 25.3 percentage point increase in the number of care-experienced mentored young people progressing to university, college or a job. The highest difference recorded in the study was an extraordinary 35.3 percentage points improvement.

Critically the report also showed the attainment gap was closed, with those achieving one or more qualifications at National 5, an average 21 percentage point improvement from 66.8 per cent to 87.8 per cent. The full report can be found here.

The success of the programme has been gathering national and UK wide acclaim. MCR Pathways has won multiple awards, including Glasgow’s Inspiring City Education Award in 2019 and the UK-wide Leaving Care Award from Children and Young People Now. MCR Pathways was recently included in The Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, a peer-reviewed, e-journal on the topical issues in residential childcare research, policy and practice.

The MCR Pathways Programme was set up by Glaswegian social entrepreneur, Iain MacRitchie who previously advised over 100 businesses and acted as executive chairman/CEO of 18 different companies during his career. In 2007, Iain set up his charitable foundation and dedicated five years as a full-time volunteer to establish MCR Pathways nationally. Iain was awarded Glasgow’s St Mungo’s Medal in 2017, a Lifetime Achievement Award by The Herald Diversity Awards 2019, and named as one of the 2019 Class of Influential Leaders worldwide by AACSB International.

The MCR Programme is actively supported by the local authorities in which it operates as well by the Scottish Government, Civil Service Local, The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, multiple universities and colleges and a growing number of key Scottish organisations, including RBS, JP Morgan, Edrington, Lloyds Banking Group, STV and the Wheatley Group.

In addition to one-to-one relationship focused mentoring, MCR Programme supports young people through group work and their Talent Taster Programme which introduces young people to work, Higher and Further Education, and Arts and Sports experiences.

For more information please go to and or MCR’s YouTube channel to hear young people, mentors and partners tell their stories.

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