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Scholar Spotlight – Mentoring gave me someone to engage with, with honest and truthful advice

Scholar spotlight What's new? Young people

As part of our scholar spotlight series, we interviewed one of the scholars on the Young Leaders programme. Please watch the video above for the full interview where Daniel shares his experience on how the GT Scholars programme has helped him.

Hi, my name is Daniel and I’m a former scholar of GT Scholars. I’m currently studying sociology, psychology, religious studies and will also start criminology studies in September at Saint Francis-Xavier College.

Why did you apply to GT Scholars?
Initially, my mum signed me up for GT Scholars because she thought it would be a good idea for me to have a mentor and be able to talk to someone who wasn’t a family member or a friend.

What was your experience of the mentoring programme?
When I joined GT Scholars I thought what’s the point in me having a mentor, why do I have to do this, why do I need someone to talk to. At the end f the programme, I could see that it was a massive benefit to have someone to rely on and talk to. In the beginning, I had a bad temperament, I got angry a lot and I didn’t really know how to behave in social situations. Mentoring helped me to understand my own behaviour, how I act towards other people & also see how I could improve myself. At first, Jason helped me to see that the way I was acting wasn’t necessarily great and it did take some time. He taught me how I should act when I’m around people and I can see now that I could walk into any sort of social situation or maybe even an interview and I can impress people.

What was your mentor like?
When I first met Jason I thought he was okay and I didn’t really see the benefit of him being there. I thought that Jason was a nice guy and that he sort of understands where I’m coming from. I could also see that he wanted to help me, but my question was why should I let him help me and how would he be able to help me. He started by telling me about his hobbies and interests and then I realised that we actually had a lot in common. At the end of the day, I could see that he really wanted to help me. I think for a mentor the most important thing is to be able to help the mentee, but it is also important to have something in common with them. You could be two completely different people, but at the end of the day if you could find one thing that you have in common with each other then it will be easier to actually help the mentee. Jason is quite possibly the best mentor I could have had and I can say that with wholehearted confidence. When I had sessions he would talk about anything from the big thing like family problems or education, to all the little things such as why I was late for a meeting.

How has the programme helped you academically?
At the start of the mentoring programme, my grades were not the best they could be. I was drifting through college, going to lessons, coming home, sleeping, eating, just typical teenage stuff. When I completed the programme my grades went up and I could see that mentoring wasn’t just about telling you what you can do in the future but it also had a positive impact on me during the programme. Mentoring showed me that education is important and you do need to do well.

What have you learned about yourself throughout the programme?
A new thing I learned was that I do have a lot of potential to do great things. Jason helped me realise that if I don’t use my potential in a good and positive manner, then at the end of the day I won’t be able to achieve anything, and that was a massive lesson for me to learn.

Why was mentoring valuable to you?
At the end of the programme I could see that everything Jason taught me from day one till the end I could use in future situations. For example, he taught me how to answer interview questions and I’d be able to use that in the future if I wanted to apply for a job or university. He taught me how to dress and I know now if I want to apply for university then I have to dress smart. It’s just all the little things that he taught me which builds up and I will be able to use this as an adult when I’m 30, 40, or 50 years old.

What did you enjoy most about the programme?
The thing I enjoyed most about the programme was having someone genuine to talk to who I could engage with, someone who doesn’t necessarily say something to please me like a yes person, but someone who gives me that honest truth about something, so giving me actual information and having that person to rely on when I need help.

What would you say to young people who want to join the programme?
I would tell anyone that’s younger who wants to join the programme to be open-minded. You can’t expect to see results straight away, it is a process and it does take a lot of time but in the end, you will see results. You will see that you are a better person. I would say it is natural to be resistant because even I was at first, but you still have to give it a chance. You can’t be a hundred percent resistant like you don’t want to do it and you do have to be open, you can’t just expect results, you have to try and achieve results.

I just want to say thank you to Jason, he has been the greatest mentor that I could have asked for, everything he’s done for me, all the advice, all the information, he truly and quite possibly will be I want to say a life long friend!

A mother and son interview on their experience on the Headstart Programme

A mother and son interview on their experience on the Headstart Programme

Parents Scholar spotlight What's new?

Interview with scholar Ameer 

Please tell me a little bit more about yourself, what do you do for fun?
My name is Ameer and I’m 13 years old. For fun, I like to play football, play games on my Xbox and go to the library as I really enjoy reading.

Do you know which career field you would like to go into one day?
I’m really interested in the computer science field as well as the legal field and I’m considering either studying to become a computer scientist or a lawyer.

You have been on the GT scholars programme for a few terms already, what did you enjoy the most during your time on the programme?
One of the things I enjoyed most on the programme was the Coding day that was hosted at Google Centre in London. I got to see the Google building and meet other young people who are also interested in and enjoy computing. I also made a few friends who I saw at other events. 

What were your highlights during the programme?
Learning how to code has definitely been a highlight for me. I’m really interested in pursuing a career in computer science, so learning about coding was really something I enjoyed doing.

Which skill-building day did you enjoy the most?
The day I enjoyed the most was where we were taught how to create our own CV. The office we went to was impressive and the people we met were enthusiastic about what they do and they also enjoyed interacting with young people.

Why did you decide to join GT scholars?
Before I joined GT Scholars, I was really struggling with maths. I joined in order to get some help with that, and I was assigned a tutor to help me improve on my maths grades.

You have been matched with a tutor for a few terms, how did your Maths improve?
My maths grades have improved drastically. I can understand concepts and work through problems that I could not do before I got the help from the tutor. I also improved on my examination grade. I am very pleased about this and so is my Mum.

Did you feel more confident in your Maths?
Yes, I do feel more confident in my maths abilities. Maths feels more relevant now as it felt very random before.

Have you seen any other changes during your time on the Head Start programme? What impact has it had on you?
I can definitely see a change, and my Mum says she can too. I think I am less shy than I was before and even when I do feel shy, I still try and engage with other students and adults. I am much more confident now! 

Did you improve on your other subjects as well during your time on the Headstart Programme?
Yes, I have improved all round. My English, History, Science, and Geography grades have increased by about 10 points and I have been finding it a lot easier for me to concentrate.

You were part of the team of young people who lead the activities at our last volunteer meetup, tell me a little bit more about that?
During this meetup, another young person and I had to deliver ice breaker questions to a group of adults who were thinking of becoming volunteers at GT Scholars. I had to stand up in front of them and speak, which was scary at first but I enjoyed it.

Were you nervous before the meetup or did you feel you had the confidence to do something like that? Was it the first time that you had to talk to a big group of people?
I was really nervous at first because I wasn’t expecting so many people to be there, but it was fun. My Mum was really proud of me as it was something I have never done before.

If you could pick one thing, what do you think was the best thing that your tutor has taught you?
My maths tutor, Toby, taught me that maths is not something to be scared of and that if I don’t worry about it, I can learn something that can also be fun.

What made you decide to enrol in an online tutoring programme instead of a face to face programme?
I am currently homeschooled and don’t have melatonin, so sleeping for me is very difficult. I am not really a morning person, so my Mum arranged for my classes to start a little later in the mornings. Online is better for me because of the time of the sessions, which work well and is convenient for me and my tutor.

Did you feel you were able to connect with your tutor even though he was online? Tell me more about your online sessions, what was it like?
I have been able to connect with all my tutors even though the sessions are online, I don’t find it difficult at all. It is easy to talk about the work and with the whiteboard, I can demonstrate what I want to say which helps us understand each other better.

What would you tell young people who would like to join the GT Scholars programme?
I would tell young people that it is a really good way to learn, they will be relaxed and be able to learn in the comfort of their home. There’s no travelling involved so you don’t waste any time and you can get started with your lesson immediately. When your lesson is finished, you can do what you like because you are already home which is really convenient.

 

Interview with parent Sharon Laidley

Was there anything specific about GT Scholars that made you decide to join us?
I was drawn to the programme because it is a student and parent focused organisation that offered busy parents and students quality online education at an affordable price. 

From your point of view, what impact do you think the tutoring sessions have had on Ameer?
He is quite a friendly person but can be very shy and not one to initiate or contribute to a conversation unless prompted. The one to one sessions have helped him to gain confidence in communicating. Asking questions when he is unsure has helped him to become a better troubleshooter. 

With the Covid-19 phase that we are in at the moment, I guess it has not impacted Ameer’s schooling because Ameer has been homeschooled. Has there been any change in your study routine? How are you and how are you coping with that?
There has not been any real change in the study routine. We’ve been homeschooling since January 2019, so we feel pretty organised with the help of Home Education groups and forums. Ameer is really enjoying it, although he is missing our lengthy visits to the park and museums. These are great environments to learn in. 

Have you seen any changes in your normal routine with regards to education and online learning during this time or has it stayed normal?
It has pretty much stayed the same. Although, the learning duration has lengthened by about one and a half hours during weekdays. 

Now that everyone is homeschooling with the current situation, how do you feel about that?
It’s an encouraging position for parents and students. It allows for both to understand they have more control and learning can be fun, relevant and personal. 

As a parent how did you find interacting with the tutors?
Thankfully, the matching process made it super easy for Ameer and I to interact with great tutors, who love what they do and are willing to share their knowledge. 

Do you feel that GT Scholars was supportive throughout the term?
As a parent, I always feel supported by GT Scholars. They are only a phone call or email away and always assists with prompt and helpful responses. They go above and beyond expectations. I feel as though I am liaising with an organisation that values young people and their family.

Would you recommend GT Scholars to other parents?
I would recommend GT Scholars and have done so to many other parents.

Do you have anything else you would like to add?
I love the ethos and ethics of the company and I am glad for the impact they are having on Ameer’s life; and if he’s happy, then I am happy!

An interview with one of our scholars Priscilla

An interview with one of our scholars Priscilla

Online volunteering Post 16 Private tutoring Scholar spotlight What's new? Young people

Please tell me a little bit more about yourself?
My name is Priscilla, I’m 16 years old. I like swimming and I was part of a competitive swimming team for two years. I have a passion for swimming and therefore, I decided to take a rookie life-guard course so that I can apply for a part-time role as a life-guard with an indoor swimming facility. My favorite subjects is English & History and in the future I would like to become a lawyer.

Why did you decide on law?
My parents work in the NHS, so when I was younger, I wanted to become a doctor. I then realised that I wasn’t that good in science, but that I had a keen interest and passion for English. I love debating and I love talking and speaking out, so law was just something that caught my attention. I also love reading & investigating which forms part of the law sector. I’m definitely looking into attending one of the Russell Group Universities. My dream is to go to Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge – any one of the top universities would be great to get into.

Why did you decide to join GT Scholars?
My mum did some research and came across GT Scholars. She told me about it and we went to a workshop, I found it interesting and it met my needs. For me having online tutoring sessions was also easier. The whole programme seemed interesting and it was also cheaper than the tuition that we were paying for at the time.

When you decided to join GT Scholars, did you have any special goals that you wanted to achieve? 
Yes, so when I first started I focused on Maths because my Maths grades were really low. I wanted to pay extra attention to Maths and I wanted to be able to at least get an A grade for Maths at GCSE level. I feel like I managed to achieve my goal in the mock exam earlier this year. I didn’t have a chance to write my GCSE Maths exam because of the GCSE’s that was cancelled, but in the mock exam, I have really improved. I ended up getting a grade 7, which is all because of GT Scholars and my maths tutor.

Your second term with GT Scholars you decided on focusing on English instead of Maths; how did that go?
My tutor Michael really helped me a lot and he made me think about the questions and answering them in a different way, which really ended up helping me during my exam. Because I really enjoy English, it was very nice to talk to someone who is also passionate about English to help develop my reading skills. I started off with a grade 6 and I ended up getting a grade 8 in English.

What positive impact did the programme have on you? 
The programme really helped me with setting up my study time. Before joining the programme I would procrastinate when it came to working. I  found that I didn’t really have an interest in doing work, but because of GT Scholars and getting homework regularly, I had that one hour a week to focus, so it was really good in terms of keeping up with my studies.

What was your favorite part of the programme?
My favorite part of the programme was the enrichment and skill building days that I got to go to. The Dragon’s Den was my favorite workshop. I got to meet new people and learn new skills, so it was definitely my favorite part of the programme.

Did you learn anything new about yourself while being on the GT Scholars programme?
I learned without a push from the tutors always supporting and checking in with me, I wouldn’t really be studying as much as I would’ve before joining the GT Scholars Programme. I feel like when I have someone by my side always encouraging me and checking up on me, it works out better for me.

And now that you are moving on to A levels –  will you be applying things that you have learned during the programme to your future studies? And what will that be?
Yes, less procrastination. I’m definitely going to make a revision timetable. I’ll also revise any work that I’ll do on a daily basis. Coming back home and reviewing the work and making flashcards so that I know that at the end of the term I don’t have to be stressed out, because I have my flashcards already prepared and ready to start my revision studies.

Do you have any advice for a young person that is considering to join the GT Scholars programmes?
My advice to them would be to have an open mind and to have a growth mindset because the programme is online. The environment will be different and it might be easy to get distracted, but if you approach it with an open mind and be willing to build a good relationship with your tutor, it will really help with the learning process. Then also remember that if you ever get stuck contact your tutor because they’re always willing to help.

What was the most helpful thing that your tutor taught you or helped you with?
I had two different relationships with my tutors because the subjects were completely different. Martin was my maths tutor and he was very understanding because he recently did his GCSE’s, and he could easily relate to me and explain things to me in a clear way. The one thing that I learned from Martin, was to not have an “I can’t do it” mindset. He really pushed me, even if I didn’t know how to approach a question he would always push me to be able to answer the question myself because he knew that I could do it. Michael was my English tutor and he had a lot of experience within the schools and education systems. He taught me to be confident with my answers and taught me to always read my answers back to myself, even when I think that I’m finished,  there is always something to add or improve on what I’ve written. He definitely taught me about self-confidence and using my imagination in creative writing.

Your tutors helped you develop a growth mindset and having self-confidence – When approaching a challenge do you approach it with a growth mindset and self-confidence?
Yes, and not only on an academic level but also in my day to day life. When I was swimming, I felt that I wanted to give up and I would remind myself that I can do it. Nowadays there are a lot of things I would do when before I wouldn’t have imagined that I could do it. When approaching something new I feel I can do it if I just put my mind to it. I also combine a growth mindset with self-confidence which my English tutor has taught me.

Is there anything you would like to say to your tutors that supported you on the programme?
I would just like to thank them for everything that they did because it is clearly evident that the programme made a positive impact on my Maths and English grades. I managed to go up two grades in both subjects which is what I wanted to achieve, and I would like to thank them for their time and dedication. They were really supportive, really nice, friendly people and from the first session, I felt like I clicked with them. So I would like to thank them for everything they have done for me!

Spotlight on one of our young scholars – Ladan

Spotlight on one of our young scholars – Ladan

Scholar spotlight What's new? Young people

Please tell us a bit about yourself
I’m fifteen and am in Year 10. I love subjects like history as I’ve always enjoyed learning about interesting events such as The Cold War since I was little. I also enjoy learning science, especially experiments.

What does being on the programme mean to you?
I see being on the programme as a really lucky opportunity to be able to develop myself as a whole, not just as a student but as someone with a more flexible mindset that can approach most tasks with an open mind.

How has GT Scholars helped you to improve yourself?
They’ve helped me think more about my future and how I can strive to improve what’s really important to me such as my academics or way of thinking. I’ve seen a great improvement in maths and I’ve moved up from foundation grade to higher grade and also reached my target grade. With mentoring, I’ve grown a lot and I’m more confident than before and my mentor has helped me to choose subjects that align with my interests.

What were your tutor and mentor like? How did this help?
My tutor Janet has helped me improve significantly in maths which honestly, is a subject that I’ve struggled with but now I enjoy the subject and am improving greatly. My mentor Sulina was really kind and I managed to learn about her career and more about the vast educational opportunities in London. For example, I used to be reluctant about IB because of all the stigma around it but as I learnt more about it I think I am more open to applying to IB next year.

Have your grades changed since being on the programme? Did you improve in any of the subjects at school?
My grades have really improved in Maths, classwork comes more easily to me now, so my teacher often gives me more challenging tasks and it’s lead to me achieving higher grades in a subject I was once not doing so well in.

What was the best thing that your tutor taught you?
My tutor helped me learn more effective time management skills. She helped me put into place more concrete methods in my exams, like the mark a minute technique that really helped me, especially since I practised it during our sessions and in homework.

How will you apply what you have learnt during the programme to your future?
My dislike for maths has honestly gone down and I genuinely enjoy the subject sometimes, so I think the likelihood that I may choose economics as an A-Level has increased.

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Scholar Spotlight: “It really helped me with my grades, to become more organised and be more proactive”

Scholar spotlight What's new? Young people

As part of our scholar spotlight series, we interviewed one of the scholars on the Bright Ambitions programme. Please watch the video above for the full interview. You can also find the transcript below.


My name is Tatiana and I am 13 years old and I am a scholar on the GT Scholars programme.

Why did you apply to join GT Scholars?
Well at first my grades weren’t that good so we were looking for a tutor and my mum was telling me that she saw something, so I was like, is that something you think I would like to try?. We saw a leaflet and that made me want to do it even more. So we ended up doing it and getting a mentor with it too.

How has your tutor supported you?
My tutors were very helpful, they helped me develop and get better at math and they helped to get my grades up and give me a little boost with my grades. We’ve done homework together. We’ve studied for exams and tests together, like anything I needed to do and if I didn’t have anything to do in my classes at school, then we would just go on things that they proposed.

How has the online tutoring been for you?
I really enjoyed the online tutoring because it’s easy to get or go somewhere in your house and video chat them and just start working. Also, you are in the comfort of your own home so you don’t have to travel out to go see them and I just find it overall easier and you have everything you need in your house so you don’t have to worry about taking things or forgetting things, everything is already here.

What were the mentoring sessions like?
Mentoring, it’s more of the mindset. I feel like that’s where I have become more confident and I have just become a better person with my mentor and that just really helped me with my lifestyle in general. I’d tell them about what I need and what is happening and when I tell them that this what’s going on and I need help with this, they’ll come back with an answer and tell me well this is what you should try and aim for and if I am missing something, they will ask me questions and I will be like well I need this too and they would just help me in any way.

How have the enrichment days helped you?
The first enrichment day was ages ago and I remember I was really scared for it and I just didn’t know what to expect from it. So when I walked in and we just sat down and just started talking and people came in and I just got gradually more comfortable and through the enrichment days I became more comfortable with everyone. With the mentor, I became more confident in myself so I got to talk to more people that didn’t make me that scared anymore and I just found them very helpful. There were lots of different kinds. Sometimes there was just a panel of people that came in, or sometimes you get involved and actually stand up and do things and get into groups with people, so they really vary but I liked all of them.

So my favourite enrichment day was the Dragon’s Den one, where we got to get into teams to create our idea or product and pitch it in front of judges. It was exactly like the real show, we just did everything the same, but obviously, it wasn’t the real show. I really liked it because I got to meet people, and I really liked the pitching and I obviously became more confident in myself so I wasn’t really afraid of presenting in front of a number people, so I was really happy with that because I noticed that lots of things have really helped me in this programme.

What have you enjoyed most about the programme?
So I’ve really enjoyed the enrichment days, well I loved really everything about it. Being able to go to the enrichment days and learn more things, and then having my mentor tell me things I did not know before and my tutor just explaining things and helping me understand and everything just helped me grow.

How has the programme helped you academically?
So before joining the programme, I was quite a laid back person and I wasn’t very confident in myself. But after I joined GT Scholars and got a tutor, I kind of gained self-confidence and became less laid back. With that in mind, I entered a math competition which I came third globally, which I am very happy about and I am proud of myself.

What goals did the programme help you to achieve?
Well, I wanted to achieve better grades and become more confident and not procrastinate and focus more. I feel like, over a period of time, I gained those skills and gotten better grades and I’ve become more confident, so I am happy.

What have you learned about yourself during the programme?
So before joining the programme I just wasn’t very confident. I didn’t really understand many things and still trying to understand how things worked and I just wasn’t very confident in myself. So once I joined the programme I just found my confidence and I could talk finally, and I did understand things and I knew I could do things and I knew I could do better than before.

What would you say to young people who want to join the programme?
So I would definitely recommend GT Scholars to other young people because it really helped me with my grades, to become more organised and be more proactive, have time management and have a growth mindset.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

Did you catch us in The Guardian?

Did you catch us in The Guardian?

Our Impact Scholar spotlight University What's new? Young people

Just in case you missed it, GT Scholars was mentioned in The Guardian at the weekend! One of our alumni, Micheal, was featured in an article about his perseverance through university despite the challenges he faces. Micheal mentioned how being on the GT Scholars programme helped him achieve some of the best A-level grades at his school and helped motivate him to pursue his aspirations.

The article has been an insight into some of the struggles faced by young people when pursuing their ambitions. In Micheal’s case, since going into university, he’s had to work 38 hours a week in order to fund his studies. No one should have to go through this at university and the article has led to many people reaching out to help him, including the creation of a GoFundMe page to support him through the final part of his degree course. We also hope that there will be further safeguards put in place to prevent young people like Micheal from having to fund their own studies, particularly if it is their first degree.

For us, this article reminds us of the importance of our work at GT Scholars. We feel very privileged that he still remembers what he gained from being on the programme. We believe that every child deserves a chance to succeed regardless of his or her background and this is one of the reasons why we run programmes for ambitious young people and provide free places to young people on Free School Meals.

To find out more about our after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programmes for ambitious young people, register your interest here.


GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.