A YOUTH project which has been boosting the aspirations of young people on Oxford’s largest estate for 15 years is to help mentor children as young as four at the city’s first free school.

The Leys Youth Programme (LYP) started in 1999 as a football club to keep children off the streets in Greater Leys.

But it was soon apparent that more needed to be done to help children avoid a vicious circle of poverty and educational under-attainment and a youth-based mentoring system was started.

Now an independent charity working with more than 450 young people a year, LYP offers a range of sports and creative activities, youth clubs and also one-to-one mentoring by adults and young people.

Its latest project will see its mentors working with the staff of Tyndale Community School in Cowley, to help to develop the gifts, talents and experiences of its four- and five-year-old reception class pupils.

Every child at Tyndale will have an LYP or school staff member as a coach who will work with them throughout their time at the school and alongside their parents and carers.

Identifying strengths, needs and any issues or problems, the coach aims to help build the child’s confidence, aid motivation and raise achievement, both in and out of the classroom.

Founder of LYP, Dr Richard Colbrook, joined one of the school’s daily ‘family’ lunches to meet some of the pupils.

He said: “The partnership with Tyndale School is a perfect fit for LYP as we have increasingly focused on mentoring and coaching over the last six years as the most effective way of seeing positive transformation in the lives of children.

“We start our mentoring young as to be successful it must be based on a long-term trusting friendship.”

Tyndale Community School, in William Morris Close, East Oxford, was opened by Chapel Street Community Schools and the Oxford Community Church in September last year.

The third free school in Oxfordshire, it is Government-funded but outside of local authority control and intends to grow from its current reception-only class to six classes, totalling 400 pupils by 2019.

Principal Liz Russo said: “It has always been part of the school’s vision to set up a coaching programme for each child, because we have a personalised approach to our children’s education.

“As we continue to grow we want to make sure we maintain this personalised approach.”