Parents: Local libraries are closing and what this means for educational equality

Parents: Local libraries are closing and what this means for educational equality

Narrowing the gap Parents Social mobility What's new?

Recently, the BBC reported that around 343 local libraries in the UK closed in the last six years. The rest of the article continues to discuss the effects this has on the professionalism of the government service, but little mention was made as to what these closures mean for educational equality.

No matter how gifted and talented a student or child may be, or whether a student receives private tuition or not, access to educational resources is vital to the nurture of a growth mindset. The British government acknowledged the important role of libraries when they approved The Public Libraries and Museums Act in 1964, an act that made the provision of a library service a duty of the local authorities.

And yet, the number of libraries available to local communities continues to decrease year after year. Government spending cuts, that have seen an exchange of full-time staff for volunteers taking library roles, have been justified due to a decrease in the overall number of people visiting local libraries (including children).

But should a drop in library visits lead to a situation in which those communities who benefit the most from them ultimately lose out?

Who is affected?

The Taking Part 2015/16 Quarter 2 Report by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport states that whilst adults from black and minority ethnic groups showed a significant decline in library use along with the white group, the gap between the two groups is widening. To add to this, of the adults interviewed it was those who lived in the most deprived areas that visited the library more than those living in the least deprived areas.

With this report it is instantly clear that deprived communities and groups already performing worse at school, those less likely to have access to private tuition or private schooling, will also suffer more from the closure of local libraries.

It’s all too easy to observe the 21st Century population walking the streets with their heads bent over their mobiles whilst forgetting that there’s still a significant proportion of the population that don’t have personal internet access. A report into the Welsh Libraries service claimed that 50% of respondents visited their local libraries because they had no home computer.

But most importantly, with the need for computer literacy and digital skills in today’s workplace, a lack of access to computers brought about by the fact that local libraries are closing could reduce the employment chances of those that are already unable to afford a personal computer, internet, or private and home tuition. This couldn’t be much clearer than in the following statistics which show that 22% of Welsh library visitors need help to use the computer and 30% use library computers for job hunting.

What this means for educational equality

Perhaps you are reading this blog article online? On a smartphone or laptop? Our ability to research topics online has sped up the process of research for our studies, free book-reading apps make it simple to download new reading material at the click of a button and with affordable smartphones there is less need to visit the local library to use their computers.

But focusing on the declining use of local libraries by a whole population under one government budget, rather than focusing on the need for the service in specific local communities, could impact educational equality as a whole. It would be a terrible shame to limit the job prospects and educational potential of children from those families who can’t afford a home computer or internet, because without equal resources they may continue to lack the funds to provide the same resources to their children in the future.  

At GT Scholars, we know that young people are capable of achieving their full potential if they have the right support and that promoting educational equality is the right thing to do. This is why we offer a high impact tutoring programme in Croydon founded on the belief that every child should have the chance and the choice to succeed academically and in their chosen career.

To find out more about the GT Scholars Programme, why not meet us at one of our information sessions? You can book tickets online by visiting www.gtscholars.org/information-sessions

Parents: How to Secure Your Child’s Future in an Unpredictable World

Parents: How to Secure Your Child’s Future in an Unpredictable World

Growth mindset Parents Private tutoring Social mobility What's new?

Last month the British public voted to leave the EU. Whether you are for or against the UK’s break away from the union, it’s safe to say that the future of the young generation is relatively less stable now than it was before the EU referendum. Fears for the economy are seen to be impacting an education system that has already seen its fair share of changes this year. Add to this just how much technology has changed the job market over the past twenty years with the rise of location-independent workforces and quicker communications, and it’s clear that the best way to secure your child’s future is to prepare them for an unpredictable world.

So how can you tutor preparation in your child? The best way is to raise them with skills that can benefit their attitude towards their future, rather than their knowledge about it. Knowledge is important but motivation is key.

5 Skills for Young People to Help Secure Their Future

  1. A Growth Mindset

Fostering a growth mindset in your child will reduce their fears that some students are just naturally more gifted and talented than them, and encourage them to overcome unpredictable obstacles rather than let them hold them back.

Not only does a growth mindset help students overcome failing a test or experiencing drastic structural changes to a school system. It will also encourage persistence when the time comes to find a job.

  1. Digital skills

Being computer literate is as important today as being able to read and write was in the 20th century. Even professions that appear to rely on manual labour will have digital administration systems, and at the very least applying for work and managing your banking requires a certain level of experience online.

To prepare your child even more, free online coding classes are available as well as a number of other free online courses.

See more: The world of free online education.

  1. An entrepreneurial mindset

In some ways, many of the qualities of an entrepreneurial mindset work alongside a growth mindset; qualities such as learning from failure, persistence and a thirst for learning. But fostering entrepreneurial thinking in your child will also set them on a path of goal setting, learning how to find and use resources to meet those goals, and the independence to stand behind their entrepreneurial intentions with conviction.

  1. Curiosity

Here at GT Scholars we don’t believe that curiosity killed the cat. We believe that a child’s conscious effort to find out more about topics that interest them will set them up for a successful future in which they can learn independently of school systems, private tuition and parental guidance.

Encourage your child to ask questions, travel and experience different cultures, learn new languages and try different hobbies because their curiosity in any of these areas will show them a world outside their own. Preparing for an unpredictable world can be helped significantly by showing your child that the world won’t just change in the future, but is already a melting pot of differences from country to country.

  1. Workplace Agility

Alongside the ever-changing nature of the workplace environment is the growing need for employees who can manage various task areas, rather than just specialising in one. Your child’s success in an advertising role may, in the future, require them to also wear the design hat, write copy, and conduct outreach to digital media outside of traditional news and magazines such as online blogs, Instagram influencers and musicians.

Developing workplace agility, in essence the ability to switch between various jobs and job roles rather than remaining in one company department for 20 years will help them build another skill to prepare them for success in an unpredictable world.

We hope this is helpful to any parent that is worried about the future of their child in an unpredictable world, especially after the recent EU referendum. The GT Scholars programme is an after-school programme for ambitious young people that would like to achieve top grades at school, get into top universities and enter competitive careers. But we also believe in character education, and promote this by teaching perseverance, resilience, confidence and self motivation to prepare students for a successful future no matter what happens.

If you enjoyed this article, why not click on the link below and share it with a friend!

The world of free online education

The world of free online education

Learning Resources Post 16 What's new?

Next month is the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web. In the last 25 years, we have seen posted letters turn into e-mail and witnessed the birth of social media. But for students and parents, the internet also brought something far more useful: free online education.

Private tuition can bring about huge benefits to young people but what about independent learning? There is a wealth of research supporting the benefits of teaching students to be self-starters and helping students develop an intrinsic motivation for learning  – learning because they simply enjoy it.

Thankfully there are many places where young people can start to develop their independent learning journey. There are thousands of websites that can provide 24/7 access to a whole world of learning and the best part is that they’re free to use.

Free online education for young children

Crickweb offers fun and interactive educational games for children from their early years right through to Key Stage 2. Subjects covered include Maths, Science, Literacy and History.

If you’re focusing on providing a world education for your children, then National Geographic Kids offers a fun space for children to play games and videos that will teach them more about the natural environment.

Free online education for secondary school students

For children revising for secondary school exams, the BBC Bitesize website has some of the most in-depth revision aids and practice quizzes online. Now with a free app for tablets and smartphones, students have the option to benefit from Key Stage 1 Maths tuition all the way to GCSE level Science tuition.

Another popular free online education provider is S-Cools. Referred to as ‘The Revision Website’, S-Cools not only provides revision guides for GCSE and A-Level subjects, but they also have a forum space for students to group together and tutor each other as peers.

For students focusing on English literature, SparkNotes and EnglishBiz together offer comprehensive study notes on curriculum literature. Perfect for keeping an analytical mind on nights when your child isn’t with their English tutor!

Free online education for all ages

Perhaps you yourself want to study a new language or your child needs to revise their history? Memrise provides free online courses in a wide range of subjects presented as quizzes and games, which also make them fun to complete. Whether you use the website online or via the app, you get to track your progress as you go and pick up at home later where you left off earlier in the library.

If yourself or your child learns best via video courses then the Khan Academy is one of the best free education tools out there. The courses are based on sub topics within Science, History, etc., which gives great in-depth understanding to a topic without the need for private tuition. A similar website that offers free online education in advanced modular topics is FutureLearn.

Further sites that offer free and in-depth learning courses include EdX (which also offers a paid opportunity to earn recognised qualifications) and Udemy. Udemy also offers paid courses, but there is a huge library of free courses on offer on a wide range of topics from business marketing to world history.

The GT Scholars programme aims to help young people develop an intrinsic motivation for learning. We teach young people how to become better learners so that they can attain excellent grades across all subjects.

Why not subscribe to ‘In the know’? This is our weekly newsletter for parents. You’ll get updates on events and academic and career opportunities for 11-16 year olds. Click here to subscribe: www.gtscholars.org/contact-us

Are you managing your time effectively?

Are you managing your time effectively?

What's new? Young people

We all know how stressful studies can be, especially before exams.

When it comes to your studies, research has shown that having good time management skills can not only improve academic performance but also reduce stress. Students who perceive greater control of their time have significantly greater evaluations of their performance, greater work and life satisfaction.

I would argue that time management is probably the most important skill you need when preparing for exams especially if you have many exams and coursework deadlines coming up. This is why the GT Scholars programme places such a huge emphasis on private tuition combined with time management and building study skills.

When I was studying for my GCSEs, our teachers would check our school planners every week to make sure we had filled them in. Most of us felt like filling out the planners was just another piece of homework, but our tutors were actually encouraging us to develop our time management skills.

Planning your time will make sure that you waste less time on things that aren’t important. It helps you become more productive at tasks in a shorter amount of time, procrastinate less, and keep on top of upcoming deadlines. All of which helps reduce your stress levels!

So, now you know the advantages of time management, here’s a little tutorial on how you can manage your time effectively!

Tips for better time management

1. Use a student planner

Writing down upcoming deadlines and daily to-do lists in a planner is the best way to stay organised and make sure you are approaching tasks in order of importance.

My top tip is to plan your day the night before. Break the following day up into hourly sections and plan exactly how you will use them. First, block the hours that you have to be at school, private tuition, after-school classes such as music lessons and then plan what to do with the spare time blocks. Will you do an hour revision before dinner or after you get home from football?

As you have it organised in advance, you’ll be stress-free for a good night’s sleep!

2. Create a specific ‘study space’

Once you start associating a certain space with homework or revision it makes it easier to get straight to work when you arrive there. Your study space could be a desk in a public or school library, it could be in your bedroom, study or the kitchen table at home. The most important thing is that you keep the space free from distractions so that you can focus on studying.

3. Have a clear focus and goal

The best thing about learning effective time management is that you give yourself a goal to achieve in a certain amount eg write a certain amount of words in the time you’ve given yourself.

Sometimes managing your time is more about staying motivated and staying focused in that period of time. It’s easy to begin to procrastinate and think of reasons why you shouldn’t study or revise but having a clear goal and a set period of time should prevent this.

By giving yourself something to focus on, you will have less time to be distracted. One of the best ways to avoid procrastinating and stay focused is to set a timer for every 30 minutes. Once the timer goes off, take a quick five-minute break and grab a glass of water or fresh juice before setting the timer again and getting back to work. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in those 30 minutes.

And of course, the less you procrastinate the more personal time you have to yourself when the work is done!

We hope this is helpful to anyone that’s trying to manage their time effectively. If you need further support, the GT Scholars programme is an after-school programme for ambitious young people that would like to achieve top grades at school, get into top universities and enter competitive careers.

We provide study-skill sessions, after-school enrichment activities and skill building courses to equip young people with the tools they need to become better learners.

If you enjoyed this article, why not click on one of the links below and share it with a friend?

Could private tutoring be detrimental to your child’s future?

Could private tutoring be detrimental to your child’s future?

Growth mindset What's new?

In the last ten years, the number of UK students receiving private tuition has increased from 18% to 25% and theories vary on whether this is a result of stretched resources in schools or a reduced trust in the school system.

Studies over the years have shown that private tuition, like that offered on the GT Scholars Programmes, can enhance a student’s performance in class. But ultimately, what works for one child doesn’t always work for another. So before following the trend it’s important to determine whether a private tutor could, in fact, be detrimental to your child’s future. 

Will private or group tuition support or discourage your child?

The biggest worry when considering after-school tuition is how it may affect your child’s relationship with their studies.

According to the Growth Mindset theory, some students have a fixed mindset where they believe that their intelligence is fixed. For a student that has a fixed mindset and is already doing quite well at school, the pressure of private tuition can end up giving the impression that they’re just not good enough.

The theory states that a child who believes intelligence is learned rather than fixed will benefit more from dedication and learning. But if a child has a fixed mindset (i.e. they believe their intelligence is fixed rather than something that can be developed) then hiring a tutor could negatively impact both their academic development and their self-esteem.

Of course, the right private tutor will always work to support a child’s learning in a way that will encourage them in the future. Sometimes it’s less a case of ‘will tutoring be detrimental’ and more a case of ‘which tutor will be more beneficial to my child’s future?’

Will after-school tuition negatively impact on other areas in your child’s life?

Another important factor to consider is research that has shown the positive influence of extra-curricular activities on a student’s grade. Therefore, care should be taken when increasing time spent on studies of core subjects like Maths, Science and English and reducing time spent creatively outside the classroom.

In addition to this is the negative impact of a child using a tutor as a tool for their grades, rather than as a support for their learning. Not only can this leave the child dependant on having a tutor to perform in the classroom, it may also lead to struggles later in life. There is little sense in tutoring a student to achieve entrance to a top University if they will continue to need constant private tuition once there.

Overall, the benefits of private and group tuition for a child with a growth mindset will benefit your child’s future. This is especially true if the tutoring programme you choose has an emphasis on supporting independent learning and understands the need to improve a child’s motivation to learn, as well their grades. The final decision should always rest with the student’s personal goals, not just those of their parents.

The GT Scholars Programme is an after-school programme that focuses on growth mindset. The programme includes tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-16.

Our goal is to help young people achieve excellent grades, get into top universities and enter competitive careers. To register your interest in the GT Scholars Programme visit www.gtscholars.org/register-your-interest  

Extra-curricular activities to boost your personal statement or CV

Extra-curricular activities to boost your personal statement or CV

Post 16 University What's new? Young people

Your teenage years can be consumed by getting the grades for work or University. But it doesn’t all have to be about studying! Taking part in extracurricular activities not only breaks up the school week but also gives you an opportunity to show how gifted and talented you are to future schools and employers.

The GT Scholars programme knows this, which is why we love providing our skill building days and encouraging you to develop transferrable skills in leadership, time management and working as a team. But if you’re looking for even more ways to boost your personal statement or CV here are five extracurricular activities examples that employees love!

1. Language activities

Travel is more affordable than ever and many companies work internationally, which makes language skills hugely appealing to prospective employers.

As for adding language skills to your personal statement, what’s more impressive than showing Universities that you personally managed your time and studies to learn another language?

2. Sports

Sports are a great way to boost your personal statement or CV because so often they are also fun ways to hang out with friends. Why do they look so good? Engaging in sports outside of school shows your ability to work as a team, motivate yourself to improve and be reliable enough to turn up to training sessions.

3. Volunteering

Showing that you are willing to use your free time to help others and be depended on not only reflects your innate interest in the welfare of others but can also offer a wide range of skills in business and events. Volunteering in the community could give you valuable experience in anything from management of others, team work, money-handling, communication and event organisation.

4. Tutoring

Acting as a private tutor to those younger than you implies strong leadership and support skills. Tutoring others in school subjects also helps you understand those subjects better, which will then come across in your confidence of that subject as well as showcasing your ability to coach others and work for a shared goal rather than just a personal one.

5. Creative experience

With so much emphasis on grades in school, you can forget to spend time being creative. But employees and Universities love to see time spent on creative activities! Whether it’s making and selling arts and crafts, producing short videos for Youtube with friends or writing for a student website, each of these skills shows your ability to take initiative, think outside the box and present valuable skills in business and IT.

A really simple example of this is from my own years at Secondary school when I decided to make tote bags out of left over fabric and then sold them through a Facebook page. Straight away I could add business and online marketing experience to my personal statement for University!

So there you have five extra-curricular activities that look good for University or your CV. And the best part is that you can have a great time with friends who have similar interests!

The GT Scholars Programme is an after-school programme for young people aged 11-16. Scholars receive support through tutoring, mentoring, enrichment and skill-building activities that are specifically designed to improve their grades at school, help them get them into top universities and help them enter competitive careers.

To find out more about the GT Scholars Programme and arrange a consultation with a member of our team visit click here