An Interview With Our Founder, Temi Kamson

Our story Social mobility Volunteers What's new?

If you ever wondered about the story behind GT Scholars and how it was founded, then watch this interview with our founder, Temi Kamson.

Temi has a Masters in Civil Engineering from the University of Nottingham and a PGCE in Mathematics Education from the University of Cambridge. Having worked in state and independent schools, she set up the GT Scholars Programme with the goal of helping ambitious young people achieve their full potential, regardless of their socio-economic background. In this video, she also talks about her personal experience with the education system, why scholars enrol in our programme, what scholars will gain from the programme, and what makes our scholars successful.

If you prefer you can read the full interview below:

Why did you start GT Scholars?

I started GT Scholars based on my own personal experience of growing up in South London. I grew up in a single parent home, grew up in council housing and went through the state school system. I remember one of my teachers from primary school, Miss Bickersteth, telling me ‘’Temi, you can be anything you want to be.’’ That statement was so powerful that it stayed with me for the rest of my life, it is still with me today. There were so many times that I wanted to give up but I was really fortunate enough, especially towards the end of my school years to have right opportunities come along at the right time, and that really helped me. It really supported me in those final years when I was thinking about university but not thinking I was good enough. I was really lucky, I went off to university, I studied engineering but later on, I decided to retrain and become a teacher in the hopes that I could give back and make a difference in someone else’s life.

It was while I was teaching, working with young people, that I really wanted to inspire them and raise their aspirations. What I realised while I was teaching was quite profound. Many of the young people that I worked with were already really ambitious. They wanted to do well; they wanted to get good grades at the end of school. But many of them they just didn’t feel confident, they didn’t feel that they had the ability within them. These beliefs were so deeply ingrained that many of them thought that even if they did their very best; the best they would ever be able to achieve was a C-grade. Some of them felt that they did not have the right background and that certain opportunities were only available for the privileged few. After some time, I realised that young people needed more than just good teachers. They needed people to support them in terms of seeing the opportunities available to them and supporting them to make the most of these opportunities.

Why do young people join GT Scholars?

So at the moment in England, only about 1 in 3 young people from low-income homes, are able to leave school with 5 GCSE’s or above and this is, of course, actually quite disheartening.  There are many young people who would love to achieve better grades by the end of school, access top universities get into competitive careers but often what happens is that they genuinely have no idea how to do this. The saddest part is that many of them are so full of self-doubt that they don’t even believe that they are capable of achieving this.

What do young people gain from GT Scholars?

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school courses, workshops and programmes for young people, particularly young people from low-income homes. Our goal is to give them the support they need so they can achieve their academic and career potential. Scholars on our programme receive academic support through tutoring. They also receive coaching or mentoring from undergraduates, graduates and professionals from top universities and leading organisations. Our scholars also get to take part in enrichment activities such as visits to the city, visits to universities and the aim of that is to help them understand the opportunities that are available to them. We also run skill building days, again, with the aim to help them and support them so they know how to make the most of these opportunities.

What makes your scholars successful?

Over the past few years, we’ve had support from organisations such as Charities Aid Foundation, School For Social Entrepreneurs and The Young Foundation. Our scholars that have been on the program have been able to move an average of 2 grade points in a year and we’ve even had some of our scholars move from a predicted D grade to achieving A-grade within a year of being on the programme. We are really proud of that.  What makes GT Scholars successful is the genuine belief that our tutors and mentors have in our scholars. They invest their time and energy supporting our scholars and building positive relationships with them. This, in turn, helps our scholars believe in themselves and that helps them realise their strengths and ultimately helps them improve their grades and career prospects. I know I wouldn’t be here today if not for the role models that supported me and believed in me when I was growing up. So if there is anything I have learned over the past through years it is that anyone can make a difference. An hour a week may seem so small, but those few hours could have such a positive influence on a young person’s life.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise that provides tutoring, mentoring and enrichment that is designed to help young people aged 11-16 achieve their academic and career aspirations. Contact us if you would like to know more about the GT Scholars Programme and how you can join.

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:

The story behind GT Scholars – More than just a tutoring programme

Growth mindset Our story Social mobility Volunteers What's new?

Why start another education charity?

Did you know that young people from the lowest income homes (Household income under £16,190) are only 4% likely to gain entry into a Russell Group University when compared to their peers at Independent schools who have a 64% chance of gaining access to a Russell Group University? Date from – Widening Participation in Higher Education 2013

Research from The EEF teacher toolkit shows that one-to-one tutoring can accelerate attainment by up to 5 months in a year and there are a range of charities that run programmes with the aim of improving the grades of young people from low income households and while these programmes are highly effective.

Charities that offer after-school tutoring and mentoring are extremely impactful but are usually funded using a combination a grants, donations and fees charged to schools. This is a common funding model for charities but the challenge with this funding model is that grants and donations aren’t sustainable – they can’t last forever and not all schools can afford the fees for additional after-school programmes.

Due to limited funding, most schools or charities have a strict criteria for providing additional support and they can only provide additional tutoring or mentoring support to priority pupils.

In a typical charity – Limited funding means that support only goes to priority pupils

Priority pupils are usually pupils on FSM (Free School Meals) – that means pupils with a household income under £16,000. In order to qualify for support, you’ll need to go to a school that has an existing partnership with the charity.

In addition to this, there are typically two types of interventions. There are those that work with high attaining pupils that are likely to get into a top university or those that work with D-grade students with the aim of supporting them to achieve a C-grade by the end of school.

The problem with this strict selection criteria is that many parents and young people from low income homes have little awareness of the programmes available to them and have very little control over the decision making process. The decision for young people to get on any programme is usually based on a funding and priority need both schools and charities are forced to make a decision on which child or which group of children will benefit from this most – given our limited funding.

Affordable and accessible tutoring – The story behind GT Scholars

The GT Scholars Programme was founded in November 2013. It was started by Temi Kamson, a former engineer turned Maths teacher. Temi established the programme while working as teacher and noticed that many of the young people and parents that approached her for after-school tutoring were on free school meals or low income homes but didn’t qualify for support. This was either because their grades were too high (eg a C-grade), their household income was too high (eg. a single parent household with an income of £17,000 which is just above the Free School Meals threshold or the school didn’t have the funding to place them on a programme.

We were established with the goal of ensuring that any young person was able to access the support and you didn’t have to go to live in the right neighbourhood, go to the right school, have the right household income and have the right grades in order to qualify for support. The programme has been developed and refined over the past couple of years and recently gained support from NPC-Think (New Philanthropy Capital) who assisted with developing the theory of change.

Since starting the programme, we have gained support from organisations such as the Young Academy’s Accelerator Programme, Bank of America Meryll Lynch and The School for Social Entrepreneurs. GT Scholars was also awarded its first round of social investment through Croydon Council’s SE-Assist programme with Legal & General and Charities Aid Foundation.

What does the programme involve?

We are now open to any pupil in London and run as an after-school tutoring and mentoring programme to run throughout the academic year with 3 terms in the year. In each term, our scholars benefit from 10 hours of one-to-one online tutoring sessions to improve grades and 3 mentoring sessions to help pupils build their confidence and equip young people the strategies they need to succeed.

We also run 1 skill-building day to help young people develop a growth mindset and 1 Enrichment day. Our enrichment days include things like visits to the city, visits to universities and career days where we encourage parents and scholars to gain a deeper understanding of the academic and career opportunities available to them.

This is all done with help from volunteers who support through tutoring, mentoring and one-off volunteer days. Tutoring and mentoring requires a 3-month minimum commitment and volunteer tutors need to be available for 1 hour a week while mentors need to be available for 2 hours a month.

Our tutors are graduates, undergraduates and professionals from a range of fields and we conduct full training and DBS checks on all volunteers that work directly with young people.

How is all of this funded?

We charge means tested fees and this means that the fees from young people from high income homes subsidise the fees for young people from low income homes.

The means-tested model also means that that the majority of our young people that join the programme are from low income homes. As a social enterprise, we use 100% of our surplus to provide free places. At the moment, we are able to provide 1 free place for every 6 paying places. Our goal is to be able to provide 1 free place for every 3 paying places by 2020 and we hope that we can do this with your support.

How can you help?

We’re always looking for undergraduates, graduates and other professionals that are passionate about making a difference in the lives of young people. You can volunteer as a tutor, mentor or simply sign up to one-off volunteer days.

Contact us online if you’d like to know more about The GT Scholars Programme and would like to support us by becoming a volunteer or connecting us to your professional network or corporate volunteer programme.

Croydon youth get an educational boost from GT Scholars

Croydon youth get an educational boost from GT Scholars

Our story Parents Private tutoring What's new?

In case you haven’t heard already, GT Scholars has recently received funding to continue it’s programme in the London borough of Croydon.

The programme will be running during the academic year from September to July. It will include private tutoring sessions, group activities and enrichment activities for all participants. Courses and workshops include everything from developing an exceptional CV, building a growth mindset, excelling in written exams and even how to get into Oxbridge.

The rise of private tutoring

More families than ever before are looking for private tutors to help their children realise their potential. A study by social mobility charity, the Sutton Trust, found that 44% of pupils in the capital had some form of private tutoring, or home tuition in the last year alone – up from a mere 35% in 2005. 62% of parents hoping to send their child to a grammar school have hired tutors to assist with the 11-plus exam, and the entire home tutoring industry in the UK is worth an astonishing £6bn.

The benefits of private tutoring are clear. Many children don’t thrive in the traditional classroom environment, where teachers have to develop lessons that will engage thirty unique individuals. The one-to-one time that children spend with private tutors can help empower them in exciting ways, taking their education to new heights and helping them to exceed all of their academic targets.

Lower-income families miss out on private tuition

But unfortunately, many families cannot afford to pay for private tutors to come and support their children on a one-to-one basis. A single hour of private tutoring in the capital can cost as much as £50.00 – a figure which is simply out of reach for many families in London. Indeed, the Sutton Trust’s research also found that children from families in the top 20% of earners are four times more likely to have a tutor than those from lower-income backgrounds.

This inequality affects disadvantaged young people throughout their lives, limiting their prospects considerably. Both Oxford and Cambridge University came under fire earlier this year, with research showing that those from lower-income backgrounds or deprived postcodes were accepted in far smaller numbers than those from desirable schools or affluent areas.

The GT Scholars approach

The GT Scholars Programme wants to help level the playing field in Croydon’s education system, by offering a high-impact, accelerated learning programme for young people between the ages of 11 and 16.

The course will give these young people the resources, skills and guidance they need to achieve their goals and realise their full potential – and best of all, as a social enterprise, GT Scholars is committed to using profits from their paid courses to provide free or discounted support to Croydon pupils from lower-income families. This approach will help improve the educational prospects of all young people throughout the area, rather than a small group.

The programme is designed with children in mind – and that means children at all levels of the academic spectrum. GT Scholars is not just for child geniuses or those who are really struggling – it’s for all ambitious young people who want to improve their life prospects through education.

Interested in finding out more about the GT Scholars Programme? Explore the website GT Scholars, or sign up for our weekly newsletter today!

Why run free enrichment events for young people and their parents?

Why run free enrichment events for young people and their parents?

Behind the scenes Our story Volunteers What's new?

Every so often people will ask us why we run free events. Why put so much effort, time and funding into our events? The information we share at our events is truly invaluable. So why not charge parents for these events?!

And my answer is because when I was younger some of the free events that I went to were the events that ended up changing my life. I’m not sure I would have gone to these events if they weren’t free.

I grew up in a single parent household with a mum that worked extremely hard to make sure that my brother and I were relatively comfortable. I never felt that we lacked anything but I definitely wish we’d spent more time together as a family.

One thing I do recall was that I was quite ambitious. I wanted to do well but there was so much self-doubt. I remember being so confused during my A-levels. There wasn’t anyone to talk to about careers or university and even when you did talk about it – the advice wasn’t particularly helpful. I got really overwhelmed the amount of work I had to do and by my second year of A-levels, I had pretty much given up on myself.

A poster changed my life

I remember walking down the hall in my school when I was about 17 and seeing a poster for a residential course for girls interested in Engineering. It was a one-week residential and it was free. I liked the idea of going away for a week and learning about engineering. It was a career that I had considered but didn’t know much about.  So I got the details and convinced my mum to book me on the course.

The one week residential literally changed my life. The course didn’t teach me Maths or English or Science. It gave me courage, confidence and self-belief. The course opened me up to the possibility of what my life could be.

I remember coming back from the one-week residential finally realising that maybe it wasn’t too late for me – I could still do this.  I didn’t have much time left to the exams and I’d hardly done any revision all year but I worked my socks off and managed to get decent A-levels.

I ended up going to the University of Nottingham to study Civil Engineering. I then did a Masters in Engineering and even got sponsored by an engineering company in my final year. It was a brilliant experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

After working as an engineer, I eventually changed careers and did a PGCE in Mathematics Education at the University of Cambridge…but I always wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t noticed that poster on the wall? What would have happened if the poster had said £350? Would I have mentioned it to my mum?

We run our events free of charge and we provide bursaries because we want all young people to be able to have access our events and our year-round programme, regardless of their household income.

Talent exists everywhere – in state schools, independent schools, low income homes and higer income homes. The most important thing to us is that every young person or parent that wants to join the programme or come to one of our events can choose to do so based on their willingness rather than their financial situation.

To find out more about our programmes, visit