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

Narrowing the gap Social mobility 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.

Young People and Entrepreneurship

Young People and Entrepreneurship

Parents Social mobility What's new? Young people

The importance of entrepreneurship in the economy cannot be stressed enough. It also goes hand in hand with innovation, which will be non-existent if not for entrepreneurship.  The benefit of having a generation that stands for the alleviation of bigotry, oppression and inequality, comes with the responsibility of being more accommodating and progressive as a society. This means that as a society we should be mentoring young people and informing them of all the available study and career options, so they can make an informed decision. Living in a world driven by technology, young people can access information on demand and reach a huge audience if they had the need to. Entrepreneurship is a viable career option for young people to consider.

Entrepreneurship Boosts the Local Economy
Economic development is powered by entrepreneurship.  A weak economy can be improved by encouraging entrepreneurship. It is also a great aid to lower the unemployment rate and allows income to be circulated within communities, in turn, empowering those communities. It has a positive effect on the development of communities and changes the social structure of a community. A stronger economy will enable more people to become homeowners, improve the quality education young people receive. The overall quality of living standards will also improve. Furthermore, entrepreneurship can provide services and products that were not accessible in the past, creating wealth for the community as well as themselves.

Teaching entrepreneurial skills to young people
Entrepreneurship as a subject is the perfect balance between problem solving, creative thinking and business studies. The world is in need of graduates who are open-minded in approaching problems and who can come up with innovative solutions. Most importantly they must be able to take charge when it comes to putting their ideas into action.   Most schools focus on traditional career choices when informing children of the various options. Entrepreneurship should in fact also be seen as a popular career choice, just like being a doctor, lawyer, teachers and architects.   

Nurturing entrepreneurial traits
Great problem-solving skills is one trait that no entrepreneur can go without. Teaching young people entrepreneurship will develop their problem-solving skills. They learn to identify problems, discussing it and then try to come up with solutions. They learn to consider whether their solution will be viable by weighing up the pros and cons of the situation, but most importantly it teaches young people to make decisions and be proactive about them. You can develop your child’s problem-solving skills by creating mock examples of typical client vs supplier problems and discussing possible solutions and consequences.

Determination 
Another must have entrepreneurial trait is determination.  This is one of the key factors that make an entrepreneur successful.  More often than not, entrepreneurs are faced with a lot of setbacks.  Success comes from not giving up hope when setback after setback is experienced. Young people will learn that hard work will eventually pay off and it will also teach them not to take the easy way out when they find something difficult, but rather persevere and put in extra effort to be successful. A great way to help your child be more determined is to set challenging but reachable goals and act as a mentor that encourages them to reach their goals.

Managerial skills are important
Allow your child to become involved in organising fun days and events within the community.  This will create an opportunity to work alongside group leaders, be present at team meetings and gain valuable managerial skills. By becoming involved in such an event, young people can also learn how to manage responsibility and possibly delegate. Most importantly assisting at events will give young people perspective on their strengths and also their weaknesses helping them to identify the areas they can improve on. It will also introduce the idea of making an income by the means of sales.

Money Smart
Being smart about your finances is another important entrepreneurial trait that can be taught to young people. It would be ideal if every learner can learn how to manage money. Learning basic accounting and bookkeeping skills is beneficial for learners because it can be beneficial to them not only in their future entrepreneurial endeavours but they can also manage their own personal finances better. Apart from accounting in school, young people can be motivated to save part of their allowance.  Assist your child in creating a budget that makes provision for saving. A challenge to double his savings can also be introduced, for example, buying stock and selling it at a profit.

The importance of good language use
Many entrepreneurs have mastered the art of good language use. How a potential sale is approached and handled can either make or break the deal. The way we address a certain problem or deal with a difficult customer can influence your business reputation in a positive or negative way. It is not only important to be aware of what we say to people but also how we say it. Teaching young people to communicate with people who are different in age and cultural backgrounds will help learners be more effective in their communities and may contribute to career and business success in the future. This skill is also important for assertiveness and being an effective leader. 

To be an entrepreneur one must also be a leader.  You can motivate and inspire your child to become a good leader by being a role model.  There are also various fun team activities that young people can participate in. This will also teach them the value of teamwork and give them the opportunity to rise as a leader and deal with possible conflict that might arise.

The GT Scholars Programme is a not-for-profit social enterprise that tackles educational inequality and improves social mobility by helping young people aged 11-16 gain access to the most selective universities and the most competitive careers. Our tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme is designed to give young people the support, skills and strategies they need to achieve their ambitions. Sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date with events and oppertunities specially focused on young people.

 

12 Ways You Can Volunteer with GT Scholars

12 Ways You Can Volunteer with GT Scholars

Social mobility Volunteer roles 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.

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?

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

Would A Grammar School in Croydon Make A Difference To Your Child’s Life?

Would A Grammar School in Croydon Make A Difference To Your Child’s Life?

Improving attainment Narrowing the gap Social mobility What's new?

New Prime Minister, Theresa May, has sparked an enormous nationwide debate on a topic that is known to divide opinion intensely: grammar schools. The PM wishes to lift the current ban on opening new grammar schools, meaning that in just a few years, there could be a new crop of grammars opening to add to the 163 existing schools across England and Wales.

A new grammar school serving Croydon would certainly not be out of the question – but would a new grammar make a difference to your child’s life? How would it affect the local education provision, and is it a good idea to start streaming children based on ability once more? We took a look at the positives and negatives.

The pros of grammar schools

Firstly, grammar schools consistently perform very well in exam league tables – they deliver exceptional results because every class is populated by the best and brightest children within a certain area. In 2006, England’s existing grammar schools were responsible for half of the total number of As at A-Level, with some of the best results coming in subjects that are perceived to be harder.

Many also believe that grammar schools boost social mobility within low-income areas, allowing disadvantaged children access to a first-rate education. Most parents in the UK simply cannot afford to send their children to a private school, and grammar schools offer a convenient middle ground for families with high hopes for their bright children.

The cons of grammar schools

Unfortunately, the claim that grammar schools boost social mobility is completely unfounded. In fact, disadvantaged children are currently enormously underrepresented in grammar schools across the country, with research from the Sutton Trust showing that just 2.3% of grammar school students are eligible for free school meals (a marker of low-income families). This is in stark contrast to the 13% figure at non-grammar schools.

The 11-plus examination, which is the gateway to grammar school, is supposedly ‘tutor-proof’. But parents with more disposable income often bring in private tutors in order to coach and prepare their children specifically for this single exam. There are even dedicated 11-plus tutors who offer sessions geared entirely towards passing the test, rather than offering well-rounded and balanced revision or teaching.

The conclusion

The Trust for London and New Policy Institute’s London Poverty Profile has found that 24% of jobs in Croydon are low-paid, while 22% of employed residents are in low-paid work. The level of child poverty in Croydon is also worse than the national average, with 21.8% of children gauged to be living in poverty. Family homelessness is high, the borough is generally accepted to be a low-income area.

For us here at GT Scholars, this signals that the timing simply isn’t right for a grammar school in the area. Until grammar schools can be definitively proven to improve social mobility for those from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds, it’s likely that a grammar school in our borough would simply alienate poor families and widen the gap between more affluent families and those struggling to get by.

Want to learn about our bid to ‘narrow the gap’ with a means-tested, non-discriminatory education programme for all children? Explore our site GT Scholars to discover more.

What makes the GT Scholars Programme different from other education organisations?

What makes the GT Scholars Programme different from other education organisations?

Narrowing the gap Private tuition Private tutors Social mobility What's new?

You probably already know that the GT Scholars Programme is a not-for-profit organisation within the education sector but did you know that there are hundreds of other not-for-profit organisations in the education sector in England? 

When the GT Scholars programme was launched, we knew straight away that we wanted to offer something that was different from other education organisations. We wanted to a lasting impact on young people, particularly those that would be overlooked by current education charity funding models. So what makes us different?

1. We’re here to support each child’s individual progress and personal ambitions

Most education charities will only work with young people that are low attainers ie. students that are at risk of failing their GCSEs. Others will only work with students that are high attainers with the aim of helping them get into the best careers and universities. But what would happen if we stopped classifying and labelling children as low, middle and high attainers? What if we stopped selecting children based on their attainment and started selecting them based on ambition? What if you weren’t held back by school targets and minimum progress measurements? What if you could just teach a child to achieve his or her best?  It may seem quite radical but giving young people a sense of ownership is exactly how and why the GT Scholars programme works. We still conduct assessments on a regular basis but instead of focusing on past attainment and hard targets, we focus on goals and ambitions.

2. We let young people take ownership of their future

Throughout the year our scholars set up their own projects based on the things that they care about. This  gives young people the opportunity to develop their skills and abilities and develops confidence in our scholars. We give young people a sense of freedom that means that we don’t have to keep limiting a child’s attainment based on the expected progress for that particular term instead we ask them what they would like to achieve and we support them in doing so.

3. We provide more than just tutoring

One of the biggest costs for any programme is the number of contact hours that can be provided. Due to limited funding, most not-for-profit tutoring programmes can only provide a limited amount of tutoring support per pupil. The typical programme will offer 12-15 hours of support in one term. We know that tutoring on it’s own is nowhere near as effective as combining tutoring, mentoring and enrichment. Scholars on the GT Scholars Programme receive a minimum of 25 hours of support per term. This includes 10 hours of one-to-one tutoring and a minimum of 15 hours of enrichment and skill-building support.  

4. You don’t need to be referred by your school to join our programmes

Most education programmes will only support young people from the lowest income homes that live in very specific postcodes in priority areas eg. Hackney and Tower Hamlets. This means that families within these areas and schools in these areas have a huge advantage of gaining external support for their students. But what happens if you don’t live in a priority postcode or you don’t attend the right school? Too many young people miss out on support because they don’t attend the right school, have the right grades, live in the right postcode and this is why our programmes are open to any young person living in London.

5. Our couses, workshops and events are open to all

We know that not every young person will get on the scholars programme. It’s not the best fit for every child, not every child needs support and we would never have the capacity to work with every child. For some young people, a day or a week or support is enough to make that difference. Our courses, workshops and programmes have been created to make sure that any young person can join in, regardless of their postcode, household income, the school they attend or their current attainment.

6. Our mixed funding model makes our courses, workshops and programmes affordable

We are different from most programmes because we charge means-tested fees. We believe that this is a good thing as it means that we do not have huge restrictions on the number of scholars that can join the programme. It also means that we don’t have to wait for grants in order to run the programme. The true cost of the GT Scholars programme is £2100 per year – this is simply not affordable for most parents. Our mixed funding model means that we charge approximately £240 to £480 per pupil for each 12-week term and this is considerably less than the amount that it costs to run the programme and a lot less than the cost a private tutoring company or the typical enrichment programmes that are only affordable for young people from wealthier families.

7. Our tutors and mentors genuinely believe in making a difference

When the GT Scholars programme started, we knew that had to work with tutors that shared the same values as we did. We initially believed that paid tutors would be the most committed tutors. However, we soon realised that we needed more than just committed tutors – we needed tutors and and mentors that cared about our scholars and were personally invested in making a difference. Our courses, workshops and programmes are designed by volunteers that are passionate about potential. We now work with volunteer tutors and mentors that take time out of their week to ensure that scholars get the most from the programme. In exchange, we provide our tutors and mentors with support for their role, we listen to their ideas and suggestions and we provide a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

The GT Scholars programme is an after school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme for ambitious young people aged 11-16. To find out more about the GT Scholars programme, get in touch with us online.

 

 

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

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

Improving attainment Narrowing the gap Parents Social mobility What's new?

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

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

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

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

Who is affected?

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

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

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

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

What this means for educational equality

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

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

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

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