Mentorship is an essential part of the registered nurse's role, yet few opportunities exist for student nurses to mentor others during pre-registration programmes. This paper reports student nurses' experiences of mentoring school pupils during a pre-nursing scholarship. Focus groups were conducted with fifteen final year student nurses (14 female, 1 male) in two university campuses in Scotland. Discussions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim, and data analysed thematically. Three interconnected themes emerged: 1) stepping up; 2) stepping back; 3) stepping forward. ‘Stepping up’ was a process through which student nurses rapidly assumed responsibility for mentoring pupils, facilitated through the attitudes and actions of students' mentors and students' control over pupils' practice experiences. ‘Stepping back’ encapsulated attitudes and behaviours that enabled student nurses to mentor pupils that involved considerable judgement around how unfolding events in practice could provide learning and development opportunities, and emotional acuity to support pupils through, sometimes challenging, practice situations. ‘Stepping forward’ described how students' mentoring experience allowed them to appraise and affirm nursing knowledge and skills, and gain greater appreciation of the reality and complexity of mentorship in clinical practice. Peer mentoring may prepare student nurses for future mentoring roles and aid their transition into clinical practice.