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.

7 Reasons Why State School Pupils are Still Not Getting into High-Income Careers

7 Reasons Why State School Pupils are Still Not Getting into High-Income Careers

Educational inequality Narrowing the gap Parents Social mobility What's new?

There is still an increasing trend of educational inequality that affects young talent attempting to enter into the job market. A recent study from the Social Mobility Commission concluded that young people from more advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, including those who’ve attended private school, are more likely to be in top jobs. 

What is the root cause of the increase in this trend and what can society do to prevent us from slipping back into an age of educational oppression?  

Here are a few reasons as to why privately-educated pupils are getting the benefit of the doubt when going head to head with a state-schooled pupil:

  1. Untimely graduation – Few state school pupils who make it to college complete their studies on time. Pupils from low-income backgrounds may have access to grants for tuition, but they still have to make provision for living expenses. Many pupils cannot afford to study and work part-time and they end up being forced to seek full-time employment. Of course, there is the argument that working and learning at the same time can result in better education and stronger career prospects and future options, especially when working in jobs related to subjects studied, however, working too much can reduce completion rates for low-income and first-generation college pupils. A spokesperson for The National Union of Teachers said their report “gives a sombre warning to Government that unless investment and the correct interventions are in place, the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers will continue”.
  2. Career threshold – Most employers have strict recruitment procedures that ensure all aspects of a new job application is covered. When considering job applications from new candidates, they look at educational background including the school attended, academic attainment and the university attended. What they fail to realise is the fact that ticking these boxes is not an accurate prediction of the applicant’s strength. A more adept way to interview would be to focus on non-academic factors such as articulacy, assertiveness and other important soft skills. Employers that access a wider pool of diverse talent will provide real benefits for employees and the business alike.
  3. Not enough equivalent experience – When employers refer to equivalent experience in a job posting, they could be referring to experience as a substitute for not having the educational requirements or they could be referring to unpaid experience, such as volunteer work or an internship. Most state pupils are obviously not able to meet this requirement due to time or financial constraints that prevent them from taking on volunteer work or unpaid internships.
  4. Incorrect business destination and intent – Many employers have the incorrect focal point when it comes to success. Their considerations lean more towards prioritisation of tasks and general commerce when they should rather be paying more attention to what individuals can attribute to their overall financial growth. Employers should be looking to employ people who are going to complement the community that they are trying to build. The graduates who clearly articulate their interests, goals and aspirations are often overlooked because of their lower percentage performance in university or due to a lack of educational prestige.
  5. Restricted personal development –  Young people from advantaged backgrounds are more likely to be extroverts and have substantially higher economic aspirations since private schools have the resources to work on personal development. On the other hand, state schools don’t focus on personal development enough, and their pupils are not able to develop self-confidence or high career aspirations.
  6. Budget deficits – With the entire world moving into a technology-based environment, it is becoming clear that tech-savvy thinking is one of the things that employers are looking for. Unfortunately, state schools are lacking behind in this area, especially when it comes to the use of tech devices in class. Pupils cannot afford their own devices and unless there is some sort of independent funding along the way, the schools are also not able to provide this for all pupils.  This suppresses the learning potential of the pupils and they will not be able to develop the necessary skills to keep up with the changing working world.
  7. Educator challenges –  State schools employ a disproportionate share of teachers, relative to the number of pupils they educate, with class sizes being far too high for one teacher to handle. This creates many challenges for individual educators such as learner performance and disciplinary problems. Learner performance is affected there is less time for the educator to give individual attention. Learners attention is also affected as classrooms tend to be more noisy and disruptive during lessons. Furthermore, the educator’s time management is affected as they do not have the time to attend to test papers and assignments with as much detail, so they often overlook vital areas where improvement may be needed.

Even though pupils are facing these challenges based on inequality and the lack of adaptability by many employers, they should not be discouraged.  Young people entering the job market should assess what they can offer and why they can be an asset to their potential employer. They should include their best qualities in a personal cover letter when applying and focus on their unique credentials and skills.

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.

Why equality in education and private tutoring is a realistic and worthwhile pursuit

Why equality in education and private tutoring is a realistic and worthwhile pursuit

Educational inequality Improving academic attainment Narrowing the gap Social mobility Volunteers What's new?

Imagine a world where every student is able to reach their full academic potential,  it would be an incredibly amazing world. A good education is one of the most important keys to achieve success in life. A population that is educated is needed for a prosperous nation.  Education develops foundation skills such as reading, writing and numeracy, which are essential for further learning. Ideally, all students all over the world should be learning in small classes, under the direction of dedicated, skilled and motivated teachers.  But the reality of the world is quite different.

Even the most democratic countries in the world do not provide equal education. The unfortunate truth is that money gives a student access to a  better-quality education. Students from financially stable and secure backgrounds have access to top-notch schools with state of the art laboratories, libraries and technology. Students from a disadvantaged background are left at the mercy of state schools. Even the very best state school cannot compete with the lowest ranking private school. State school classrooms are more often than not overcrowded and manned by overburdened, overwhelmed and stressed educators who must deal with bureaucracy and poor teaching environments. Even the brightest and most motivated students battle to achieve their full potential in these circumstances.  In many of these situations, students who need extra support are likely to fail and eventually drop out of school. The future is bleak for these kids who will either end up doing lowly paid, menial jobs or worst- case scenario, end up in a life of crime with the cycle continuing when they have their own children one day.

The negative impact educational inequality has does not stop at the students. It sets off a chain reaction of events.

Inflated costs to society
Failure to provide equal access to educational opportunities imposes inflated costs on society. A poorly educated population limits a country’s capability to produce, grow and innovate. It damages social cohesion and enforces additional costs on public budgets to deal with the consequences such as higher spending on public health and social support and greater criminality. The study found that students who have enriching school experiences will be more likely to pursue further education and successfully transition into the labour market.

Increases National Interest
Giving more students access to better education can increase national interest.  Students that receive quality education gain better reasoning intelligence and learn to form their own conclusions from facts that they are given. Educated people work towards the common good of the country and understands the importance thereof and works towards protecting the national interest.

‘’The children of today are the future of tomorrow’’
With more and more children gaining access to better schooling they also become well-cultured.  Good schooling can motivate and provide for higher quality education. If someone can learn to be a good student, they will learn to be good citizens one day. Imagine if we could measure the loss we’ve endured as the human race due to exceptionally talented students who could not reach their full potential because of educational inequality. What could they have possibly invented or contributed to society?

A nation that works together
It is possible to improve educational equality as a nation. Everyone can contribute to making equal education for all a reality. Governments can manage school choice to avoid segregation and increased inequities. They could also develop an incentive system to make disadvantaged students attracted to high-quality schools. Governments can also find a way to improve the access that disadvantaged families’ have to information about schools and give them the necessary support to help them make informed choices. To ensure equity and quality, the government can also promise  access to quality, early-childhood education.  The main focus should be to recruit and support good teachers. Teacher education is vital to ensure that teachers receive the requisite skills and knowledge to do their best. Creating mentoring programmes for novice teachers and developing supportive working environment will help retain good teachers.

It is not only up to the government to promote educational equality. It is just as much the communities responsibility to uplift the youth to ensure a better future awaits them. Communities members should become more involved in mentoring the children in their community. Local business, community and political leaders can play a key role in providing recreational and tutorial support to encourage learners to study rather than to become involved in anti-social activities.  They can also give financial support to improve school facilities.

Teachers also play an important role in promoting educational equality.  A good teacher can be a great influence on a student. A teacher can inspire, educate and motivate learners to give their best. However disadvantaged schools are not fertile grounds to bring out the best in a teacher. It is therefore important for teachers in these schools to come together with government support, to create a platform to motivate and help each other give their best.

Early intervention from a young age is needed to prevent educational equality gaps from widening. Whilst achieving educational equality may elude some governments, there are some organizations and social enterprises which have picked up the baton to close the gaps in educational inequality.  Society, therefore, has a moral obligation to make sure that all children receive equal access to education to give them the vital skills needed to become contributing adults in society. Educational equality ensures that all learners irrespective of their race, religion, gender and socio-economic standing have access to the same learning resources and educational opportunities.

GT scholars provides high-quality individualised tuition by tutors who are passionate about academic success. They match students with mentors who can assist them to set and achieve academic, career and personal development goals. They also run enrichment programmes to help build confidence and make students aware of the academic and career opportunities available to them. These programmes are provided at a low price or free of charge to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The aim of these programmes is to address educational inequality by giving children, particularly those from lower-income households, the strategies, skills and support required to achieve their academic and career goals. To find out more about GT Scholars, register your interest here or give us a call on 020 881 68066.

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.

12 Ways You Can Volunteer with GT Scholars

12 Ways You Can Volunteer with GT Scholars

Other Volunteer Roles Social mobility Volunteers What's new? Young people

As you may already know, GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise that aims to improve social mobility for young people from low-income households.

We run a range of courses, workshops and programmes with support from our staff and volunteers who are dedicated to helping our scholars achieve their full academic and career potential.

If you are passionate about tackling education inequality and you would like to make a difference to the lives of young people, then here are some ways you can support GT Scholars.

1. Volunteer as a Tutor: Would like to help a young person reach their full potential? Could you provide academic support to a student in Maths, Science or English up to GCSE? If so, volunteer tutoring may be perfect for you. We are always looking for more volunteer tutors so that we can reach more young people across London. Send us your CV and a short cover letter if this is something you’d be interested in. You can get in touch by clicking here

2. Volunteer as a Mentor: Our scholars are eager to meet graduates and professionals that can support them in achieving their ambitions. Mentors are mainly responsible for providing support and career advice to young people. If you enjoy working with young people and are passionate about helping a young person achieve their goals then mentoring may be perfect for you. Send us your CV and a short cover letter or get in touch with us here

3. Volunteer AmbassadorCould you help with the growth and development of GT Scholars by providing advice and practical support to the founder? We’re looking for professionals and graduates that have experience in business development and strategy, consulting, fundraising, social investment, marketing, recruitment or public relations as well as a passion tackling educational inequality then get in touch with us here

4. Tell a friend about us! If you have a friend that could potentially be interested in volunteering with GT Scholars, then why not let them know! You can forward them a copy of our weekly volunteer newsletter so they can have a better idea of what we do. You can also invite them to come to one of our volunteer socials in London where we share more about our story and how they can support. To book a ticket for you and a friend to come to our next volunteer socials, click here.

5. Connect with us on social media: If you are already one of our fantastic volunteers then add your new role to your Linkedin profile and don’t forget to like us on all your other social media platforms (facebook, twitter, google+). You can also like and re-tweet our facebook and twitter posts as this will help us reach more volunteers just like you!

6. Help with videography and photography– We’re always looking for professional photographers and videographers that can take high-quality photos and videos at our enrichment and workshop events in London. If you are a talented videographer or photographer and would like volunteer your time to help us capture our events and workshops, then get in touch with us here

7. Be a guest speaker at our event– We host a variety of exciting enrichment days, workshops for young people throughout the year and we are looking for graduates and professionals who would like to share their journeys and experiences with our scholars and inspire them to achieve their own ambitions. To find out more on how your story and experiences to inspire young people, please contact us here

8. Volunteer at one of our workshops or events: Throughout the year, we run inspiring and interactive workshops for young people and once a term on a weekday evening we host a parent and pupil information session at schools across London. If you are available to volunteer for 3-4 hours in the evening or available to volunteer for the whole day on Saturday, this could make a huge difference to our scholars. As a co-host or volunteer helper on the day, your main role will be to assist at these events and ensure that our workshops and information sessions run smoothly. To find out more, get in touch with us here

9. Write for our blog: Could you write a short blog that could be of benefit to our scholars or their parents? We are always excited to work with volunteers who can bring a fresh perspective to a range of educational issues to support our scholars with their challenges and their aspirations. You could write about your experience growing up, the support you received, the reason why you volunteer with GT Scholars, some important advice for young people or even a new initiative that you’re running for young people or their parents. Find out more about guest blogging here

10. Be in the spotlight: Every few weeks, we conduct a short interview with one of our volunteers to find out more about their experience volunteering with us. We know that many of our volunteers don’t like being in the spotlight but it’s usually a very short piece (we promise!). It’s a brilliant way for us to tell other people about your role and attract more volunteers just like you. Find out more about our volunteer spotlights by clicking here

11. Host a workshop: We host a variety of workshops throughout the year aimed at supporting and inspiring young people. If you have a flair for delivering and leading short, interactive and inspiring workshops for young people then why not run or co-design a workshop with us. We would love to hear your ideas! Get in touch with us here.

12. Invite us to your speaking engagement: If you run events for undergraduates, graduates or professionals, we’d love for you to consider inviting us to speak at your event. We have a dynamic and inspiring team and a network of scholars that would love to share their experiences and raise awareness of educational inequality in the UK. Get in touch with us to discuss ways in which we can be partners here

6 Misconceptions that young people need to address before embarking on a degree or an apprenticeship

6 Misconceptions that young people need to address before embarking on a degree or an apprenticeship

Narrowing the gap Social mobility University What's new? Young people

University debt has now risen to £100 billion in the UK and it’s set to keep rising. Many young people are now looking into alternatives to university. But what happens if you’re not sure which path to take.

There is no reason for anyone to throw themselves into an apprenticeship or go to university just for the sake of going! There are a lot of things to consider. In this blog, we’ll do our best to address some of the typical misconceptions that young people have about apprenticeships.

  • If I do an apprenticeship, I’ll earn less than a graduate. When you’re studying for a degree, you’ll need to pay for your course and for most people, this means taking up a student loan. During an apprenticeship, you get paid to work and gain your apprenticeship certification and you won’t have a student loan to pay off. The reality is that your salary as an apprentice and even beyond your apprenticeship will pretty much always depend on the profession you’ve chosen, the type of apprenticeship you’ve chosen and the company you work with. The same applies for graduates, it will depends on the work-experience you gained before and during your degree, your qualities and what you have to offer, the degree that you studied, the university you attend and the profession you’ve chosen. There are so many variables that it’s almost impossible to say that one is better than the other.
  • An apprenticeship is easier than studying for a degree. Again this is not necessarily true. So many young people believe that doing an apprenticeship instead of a degree is an easy way out. There is a belief an apprenticeship doesn’t require good grades and it’s a safety net that will secure them a well paid job after school and ensure that they are debt free. I’ve seen so many students mess around in their final year of school because they believed that all they needed was 5Cs to get a good apprenticeship. They didn’t attend any revision sessions, hardly prepared for exams and did the bare minimum to get 5Cs at GCSE and who could blame them? Why work so hard if you feel that you have the safety net of an apprenticeship waiting for you. Instead of looking for the easy way out, you should probably take the time to decide on your ideal career and then choose the path that will take you in the right direction.
  • It’s easy to get an apprenticeship with a top company. The reality is that the top apprenticeships and school/college leaver programmes are competitive. Just like graduate programmes, you’ll face a lot of competition. Top companies want top quality candidates so you’d better be prepared to have a brilliant CV and get good GCSEs and/or A-levels if you want to get a job with the highest paying companies. There are some of the more glamorous apprenticeships that will pay £400 per week but most apprenticeships will pay about £200 per week. You only need to take a look online at the apprenticeships on offer for you to fully understand what is available.
  • Doing an apprenticeship means I’ll never have to study again. Unfortunately, this is not true. Most apprenticeships will require some form of assessment or examination as part of the apprenticeship. And of course, even after your apprenticeship your career may still require you to take regular exams or build qualifications if you want to move up the career ladder. Instead of thinking about how to get out of exams, why not look for a way to get better at doing them?
  • Apprenticeships are for people that didn’t get good grades or don’t like studying. Doing an apprenticeship or studying for a degree is something that requires a lot of thought. The decision shouldn’t be based purely on your grades. The real question should be – what are you passionate about? What would you like to do with your life? If the career you want requires a degree – then you’ll need to get good grades, go to a top university and get your degree! If the career you want doesn’t require necessarily a degree eg Accounting, IT or Management – then you’ll need to get good grades and go and work for the best company that you can find that will support you to achieve your career aspirations. If the career you want requires you to go to a specialist Art/Fashion/Music/Dance college – then you’ll need to get good grades so that you can get into the specialist college.
  • I’ve been predicted low grades. I probably won’t get good GCSEs and I’ll have no choice but to do an apprenticeship. Predictions at school based on a range of factors. Even as a teacher I remember being baffled by what the computer spurred out as the predicted grades for my students. The problem is that many students then rest on their laurels believing that there’s just no hope and they’re only as good as the prediction. My view on this is work hard. Don’t give up because your predictions aren’t that great. I’ve met bright students who gave up on themselves at the most important point in their lives and I’ve always wondered what would happen if they put in just a little more effort to get better grades.

If you’re not sure about what you want to do then you should probably take some time out to get work experience in a field that you are interested in before embarking on an apprenticeship or signing up to a degree.

Do your research into universities and the types of degrees that you could study. Meet people that are currently on an apprenticeship and ask them about their experience. You may also want to look into apprenticeship-degrees where you work full time while gaining a degree through your employer and graduating debt free! Just remember that no matter which path you choose – you’ll probably still need to work hard and get good grades by the end of school.

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.

Funding priority pupils with most tutoring charities - The story behind GT Scholars - More than just a tutoring programme

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.

Find out how we are able to provide free private tutoring to young people from low income homes

Find out how we are able to provide free private tutoring to young people from low income homes

Narrowing the gap Social mobility University Volunteers 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 as 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 at least 1 in 7 places are entirely free of charge to pupils from the lowest income groups. The majority of our pupils are from low income homes with household income under £25,000. We are currently using our social enterprise to provide 1 free place for every 6 paying pupils. Our goal is to be able 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