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We’re looking forward to #GirlMeetsCode2020

#GirlMeetsCode BAME opportunities Coding & Technology Corporate Social Responsibility What's new?

GT Scholars presents #GirlMeetsCode

Did you know that the technology sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the world? It’s a highly-paid industry with software engineering ranked second of the 10 highest paying entry level jobs in the UK. There are more than a million people working in this sector in the UK but only 16% are women (data from ONS 2019) and with so many employers looking for more women to apply to their roles, you’ve got to wonder,  why aren’t there more women in technology?

In 2017, we asked some of our girls, why so many young women aren’t considering careers in technology. There were a wide range of reasons but it generally came down to low confidence in their technology skills, not enough role models (that they were aware of) and a lack of awareness of opportunities in this sector.

So we decided to do something about this!
#GirlMeetsCode is a 6-month programme for girls in Years 9 & 10. The programme includes 10 workshop days held in Central London on Saturdays & during half term. Each year, we’ll be working with dozens of girls interested in coding & technology. You don’t need to have any previous experience of coding. All you need is to be open minded and to have an interest in technology. We’re looking for girls that are willing to go against the grain.

As part of this programme, you’ll be building and improving your skills in coding and technology. You’ll get to meet and work with like-minded girls, using your creative skills to solve problems. You’ll be working collaboratively on tech projects. You’ll also get to meet role models and women working in the tech sector. What’s more is that this programme is funded by our partners who are passionate about seeing more girls in tech.

So how do you get started?
There are two intake periods each year. Applications open in January & June each year. You’ll need to fill in a short application form to get started.

To register your interest and find out more about this programme visit www.gtscholars.org

Should We Focus on Schools or The Home to Improve Social Mobility?

Should We Focus on Schools or The Home to Improve Social Mobility?

Corporate Social Responsibility Social mobility What's new?

With a leadership election and a cabinet reshuffle looming, the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP’s speech at a Reform event last week on social mobility will likely be his last. It continued to be shaped around his flagship “seven key truths about social mobility” that he pioneered while chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility. It focused on five areas of disadvantage: ethnicity, language, place, the home and childhood adversity. Most significantly, Hinds placed emphasis on the influence of the home (“the last taboo in public policy”) that he had noted a year previous as having the strongest influence on disadvantage. But what was new in this speech, what will be the legacy of Theresa May’s Government on social mobility and where does the future lie?

Home is where the disadvantage is
A heavy emphasis was placed by Hinds on early-stage development – if, what and how children are taught in the home via their parents. Hinds used an eye-opening statistic: Children who experience parental disengagement at home are the equivalent of nine grades lower across eight GCSE subjects than their peers. The promise on how this will be resolved was an ambiguous, but not “patronising and lecturing” programme to help support parents that will arrive in July. This follows on from Hinds’ promise last year, made during his first few months as Secretary of State for Education at the Resolution Foundation, that the development of apps to help parents create a home learning environment for children would be encouraged. The result of that reached its first stage in February 2019, where parents in 12 pilot areas across the country were given interactive learning tools and tips via text message to help support their children’s early language and literacy development. 

There was also a heavy emphasis on mental health, with Hinds celebrating the increased attention given to the issue across all cross-sections of society. Mental health is a much-needed area of focus that has also been given heavy significance by the review of the Government’s Children in Need policy paper, which focuses on the most vulnerable children. Measures announced to support children included a plan to ensure new teachers in England are trained in how to spot the early warning signs of mental illness, with better sharing of information between councils and schools and tackling of absence and exclusions. 

The elephants in the room
Yet the elephants in the room were apparent: positive and encouraging moves in early stage development and mental health are only being hindered in other ways. Hundreds of children’s centres which are key support systems for disadvantaged families and key environments for early investment in children are being closed across the UK as a result of cuts to council funding. Total school spending per pupil has also fallen by 8% between 2009-10 and 2017-18, and schools have only been too vocal about the limit this has placed on support staff such as school counsellors in what has been deemed a “mental health crisis” in schools.

Too cool for school
While Hinds is correct when he states that “schools cannot do everything”, they are just as character-forming and as developmental a space as the home. When schools remain underfunded, they won’t be able to even meet the margins of their responsibilities towards disadvantaged students, and most importantly the generations of disadvantaged students of today who are too late to garner the benefits of early development initiatives. Without adequate levels of funding for schools and local councils, the positives of the Government’s measures will only be cancelled out.

This is viewed only too clearly through the establishment of the Pupil Premium, brought in in 2011 as a grant to help schools in England decrease the attainment gap for the most disadvantaged children. Despite this, school funding has been cut back since 2010 and according to Education Datalab, in 2017, the attainment gap between the long-term disadvantaged (those on Free School Meals) and other groups grew. 

There is also the argument used by the All-Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility in its 2019 report, ‘Closing the Regional Attainment Gap’, that stated that evidence was growing behind the stance that the “single most important factor” in raising a disadvantaged pupil’s attainment is the “quality of the teacher providing the instruction”. Hinds’ “seven key truths about social mobility” also points to the fact that education can break the multigenerational cycle of disadvantage and that the most important factor in education is the quality of teaching.  

But schools in England continue to face teacher shortages, with teacher-pupil ratios rising from 15.5 pupils per teacher in 2010 to 17 in 2018. Teachers also face heavy workloads, and many Science & Maths teachers were found to not have the relevant degrees. While the Education Endowment Foundation recently published new guidance for schools on where to invest the Pupil Premium and identified investment in teachers as the first tier of investment, this is limited to primary and secondary education. The needs of higher education and specifically colleges, which a high proportion of disadvantaged students attend, are neglected. 

The two sides of progress
There have, of course, been steps made towards social mobility in the past year, most notably the commitment made by UK universities to invest in programmes aimed at widening access, which Hinds challenged them to last year. There has also been an increase in awareness and interest towards apprenticeships and further research commitments to understanding social mobility and its web of influencing factors. Hinds’ commitment to exploring this web of factors – the complex interplay between home and school – is a positive and encouraging approach to social mobility rather than just being purely focused on academic learning. However, focusing on one to the detriment of the other is an injustice to the millions of disadvantaged students in underfunded schools today, and replacing positive initiatives solely with apps is an injustice to the millions of disadvantaged families both in the present and the future.  

Shortly before Hinds’ speech in April, the Social Mobility Commission’s annual ‘State of the Nation’ report rang loudly in the ears of all working towards social mobility with its statement that social mobility has remained stagnant for the past 4 years. As Theresa May exits No 10 with her legacy of £27bn for education in the next spending review in tatters, and the sound of leading man Boris Johnson’s pledge to ensure every secondary school in England receives at least £5,000 per pupil (despite the fact that schools are already supposed to receive a minimum of £4,800 per pupil), it remains to be seen whether progress on social mobility will be music to the Government’s ears in the future. 

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. Our after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme is designed to help young people aged 11-18 achieve their academic and career aspirations. Visit our website if you’d like to know more about the GT Scholars Programme and how you can make a significant difference in young people’s lives.

How we provide affordable private tutoring for children from low income homes

How we provide affordable private tutoring for children from low income homes

Corporate Social Responsibility Narrowing the gap Our story Private tutoring What's new?

Research from Sutton Trust’s shows that 42% of students in London have paid for private tutoring at some point in their academic careers. In addition to this, privately educated pupils are more than twice as likely to have received tutoring at some point in their academic lives compared to state educated pupils.

Research from the Education Endowment Foundation shows that tutoring can accelerate learning by up to 5 months within a year.  So why aren’t more young people from lower income homes making use of tutors? The reality is that high quality tutoring is simply not affordable. The average rate for tutoring in London about £30 per hour.

When we launched GT Scholars one of the first things we noticed was that there were more online search enquiries for private tuition from families from higher income homes than those from lower income homes. This was initially surprising as we couldn’t understand why we weren’t getting many more enquiries from families from low income homes.

Despite our relatively low costs and our offer of free places, the programme seemed to attract more people from higher income homes.It took us a while for us to see that many of our target market – parents of young people from lower income homes – were not looking for private home tutoring.

Their families were less likely to look for a tutor because tutoring can be expensive and from a parent’s point of view, particularly parents with a relatively low income – private tutoring was seen as risky especially if you don’t have the money or the right network to help you find or afford the right tutor.

When we discussed the search for a private tutor – many explained that they had stopped looking for a tutor because they believed there was no such thing as affordable private tutoring. It’s hard to justify paying a private tutor £40 per hour if you only earn £10/hour. We realised that many parents from lower income homes often saw private tutoring is a luxury that they just could not afford.

On the other hand, parents from wealthier homes, even those that that were already paying for private schools, saw private tutoring an essential part of learning that they cannot afford to miss out on.

Most people would agree that young people from low income homes should be able to access additional support through after-school tutoring – if they need it.

Over the past few years, we have found that that the best way to reach young people from low income homes is to reach them directly through their schools and offer free or low cost workshops and courses for parents to access additional support.

This gives parents a chance to meet us in person and understand some of the benefits of the programme and access support through our short courses and workshops when needed. We also encourage parents to sign up to our weekly newsletter ‘In the know’ which gives parents an idea of activities and opportunities that are available to their child.

There is no denying that private tutoring is here to stay. It’s a booming industry and becoming a way of life for many people especially those from higher income homes. The only way to make this fair is to offer some form of means-tested tuition including some free places – and this is the story of GT Scholars.

The GT Scholars programme is a not-for-profit after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme open to pupils in your school in Years 7 to 11. Pupils on the programme receive support from volunteer tutors from some of the top universities in London and volunteer mentors from top companies and organisations in London.

Parents pay means tested fees based on total household income and private tutoring fees range from £9 to £26. We use all 100% of our profits to ensure that 1 in 7 places are entirely free of charge to pupils from the lowest income groups. Our goal is to increase this to offer 1 in 3 free places by 2020.

The programme is entirely free of charge for schools to participate and we ensure that free places only go to young people from low income homes that have a genuine need for the programme.

If you work in a school in London and would like to know more about how the GT Scholars programme can benefit pupils in your school, contact us using the following link: www.gtscholars.org/contact-us

Do Apprenticeships Perpetuate a Two-Tier System?

Do Apprenticeships Perpetuate a Two-Tier System?

Corporate Social Responsibility Narrowing the gap Research Social mobility University

A report has shown that doubts over the value of a university degree means that 4 out of 5 parents would prefer their child to pursue a form of apprenticeship over a university education. But GT Scholars wonders if it is this attitude towards higher-education that has helped strengthen the UK’s two-tier education system?

Raised university fees and the scrapping of the bursary will most likely have a negatively impact social mobility

With parental pressure towards vocational training, as well as fears over taking out large student loans, it’s no surprise that official figures suggest that poor teenagers are almost half as likely to go on to university than richer classmates. It’s likely that this means many gifted and talented children from less wealthy families are put off applying to university because of their socio-economic situation.

This is in stark contrast to parents from wealthier families who aren’t just more encouraging towards their children’s higher-education ambitions, but they are more likely to spend money on private tuition to help them gain access to the best colleges and universities. These parents have often taken on student debt themselves, have positive experiences of university and understand the value of a degree.

Graduates have traditionally earned more than their non-graduate peers

Scepticism over the value of a degree isn’t uncommon, but a recent study revealed that the majority of graduates are more likely to be in work and earn more than non-graduates. It also found that ten years after finishing university, graduates earned an average of over 25% more than non-graduates of the same age.

Although financial worries are a reality that aren’t going to disappear, nobody should feel like they don’t have access to higher-education because of their socio-economic background. It’s this unfortunate attitude that has helped to create a two-tier education system with students from poorer families less likely to pursue degrees – but the rise of degree-apprenticeships could help change this.

Degree-apprenticeships may be the solution

Degree apprenticeships allow students to do paid work at an accredited company, but also study for a management-related degree alongside it. Many high-profile firms across the UK, including M&S, Nestle, Rolls-Royce and Barclays, have signed up for the government backed scheme.

A student doing a degree-apprenticeship with Nestle spoke glowingly about the opportunity, “I find it incredible that at 21, compared to my friends who did go to uni, I’ll have not only a degree but also a professional status.”

Another student that made the decision to take up a degree apprenticeship because she was worried about getting into debt, saying “It was a worrying thought that I would be paying that off for the rest of my working life…The apprenticeship sounded a better option.”

With Government pledging to create 3 million degree-apprenticeships by 2020, this could be the change that sees working-class students have equal access to higher-education and finally puts an end to two-tier education.

At GT Scholars we believe that everybody should have access to the education that they want, no matter their background. That’s why we charge means-tested fees, to ensure that young people from lower income homes can access our programmes. To find out more about how we support young people through our courses, workshops and programmes, register your interest by visiting www.gtscholars.org/register-your-interest

NESTA research on tutoring and mentoring programmes

NESTA research on tutoring and mentoring programmes

Corporate Social Responsibility Research

There is strong evidence supporting tutoring and its impact on young people’s academic results. Mentoring provides role models for young people to aspire to, and coaching can help them to join the dots in how to achieve their aspirations. A wide range of social organisations have recognised this and are providing innovative opportunities for young people to benefit from these types of programmes.

Nesta has been supporting a number of organisations mobilising volunteers to provide tutoring, coaching or mentoring to young people.

Visit NESTA to find out more

 

Evidence from Sutton Trust supports combined intervention programmes

Evidence from Sutton Trust supports combined intervention programmes

Corporate Social Responsibility Research

We’re pleased to see that research from Sutton Trust published in December 2015 has shown that mentoring, multi-year combined interventions, personalised application information and assistance, residential programmes and tutoring are the strategies that are most likely to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds get into higher education.

The review highlights some common features of the most successful outreach programmes. These are: combining several strategies into one longitudinal programme, improving academic attainment, intervening early, involving teachers and working closely with parents.

For more information visit the Sutton Trust website.