Volunteer Spotlight – English tutoring has been a fun, challenging, rewarding, and positive experience! 

Volunteer Spotlight – English tutoring has been a fun, challenging, rewarding, and positive experience! 

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

The volunteer tutors and mentors are in essence the driving force behind GT Scholars, and it’s always great to learn more about them and why they’re passionate about working with young people. We’ve had the privilege of interviewing one of our volunteering English tutors, Sarah, who recently shared more about how she helped her tutees improve their English grades. She also shares a little bit more about her background and why she decided to become an online volunteer tutor with GT Scholars.

Please tell us a bit about yourself?
I work for a local council in London, mainly dealing with contracts and finance. In terms of volunteering, I’ve never done anything like GT Scholars before. I have tutored adults in Spanish and I’ve done volunteering for the NHS and legal charities, but that was always to do with procurement. So this was a new experience for me.

What made you decide to become a volunteer tutor?
During the lockdown, I felt like I needed more opportunities, so I thought it would be nice to do some volunteering. While I was looking around for volunteering opportunities, GT Scholars came up. I thought it sounded interesting and would be something quite rewarding to do. My mom was a teacher, so I understood how rewarding tutoring could be. I thought this would be like a micro version of that, but much easier because you are tutoring one student for one hour.

How did you get started as a volunteer tutor with GT Scholars?
I saw an advert on Do-it.org and I applied. I spoke to Taryn where she told me a bit about the role. She said GT Scholars were looking for English tutors at the time, which was perfect because that’s what I wanted to do! I just went through the process and then I got matched up with my first tutee and went from there.

What did you enjoy most about tutoring your scholar?
There were a couple of things I enjoyed. It’s nice to meet young people because I don’t get to meet them in my everyday life and it’s great to learn more about them. The most rewarding thing for me, which I saw with the first girl I tutored, is that she was growing in confidence and getting better week by week. When I spoke to her mom, her mom said that she feels a lot more confident. She felt like she could do her exams now and that she was not as worried as before. That just made me feel happy, that she felt like that and that hopefully, I had helped her get to that stage. Although, you know, the majority of it was because of her hard work.

What goals have you helped your scholar to achieve?
I’ve had two scholars. The first tutee wanted to focus on exam papers only. She wanted to get confident and, I suppose, improve at answering the exam questions. Throughout the term, she went from being able to do paper one at a certain standard to doing paper one and two at a much higher standard, moving her a level up. I believe she achieved her objectives.

The second tutee was a little bit more challenging because she went overseas a lot and we had some issues with missed lessons. She wanted to gain a better understanding of what the exam papers would be like and what it was like to sit in on an exam. I think we’d built her familiarity with the exam papers. And again, her level improved over the term.

What challenges have you helped your scholar to face?
One of the things that my first tutee struggled with was answering questions on how the structure of text created effects on the reader. We went through various sessions to help build her confidence and understanding in that area. The other challenge was timing, allowing the right amount of time to answer questions in the exams so that they are not rushing at the end. We just practised various techniques they could use for that. 

Both my tutee’s had the same approach to answering questions in English, which was to write and not necessarily plan their answers. I had to work with them and show them that you don’t need a plan for short questions, but that it is beneficial where longer ones are concerned.

What challenges did you face while tutoring your scholar?
I did find it a little bit tricky when I first started tutoring. With my first tutee, I didn’t have the training to teach someone how to approach an exam. I searched for resources online and used some of the links that I had from GT Scholars to try and get materials together. I also familiarised myself with the exam papers because they’re different from the ones I wrote 20 years ago. I think it was just about doing research and putting materials together so I could give a good session.

I found it difficult if one of my tutees would suddenly ask a question that was completely unrelated to the session that we were having. It would be about something else they were finding challenging and because I hadn’t planned for that, I just had to kind of answer as best as I could and then potentially get some more materials together for them outside of the sessions.

Why do you think mentoring is valuable to young people?
I think it’s helpful in two ways. The first is that they get personalised attention where it might be difficult for their teacher to give them because there are so many other students. Helping tailor something to that particular student in a slightly different way is what will help them understand things better. So it’s that kind of personal attention that is beneficial. 

The second thing is that mentoring builds confidence. Both my tutees struggled with this as they believed they were not good at it. But it wasn’t true at all. That was just their perception and all they needed was positive feedback to build their confidence. This allowed them to try something that they were previously scared to do.

What do you think is the most important skill to have as a volunteer tutor?
You need to be quite flexible in your approach to tutoring. You have to try different ways of delivering the same information. So, for example, one session I did was about Grammar. I realised one of my tutees was struggling a bit with some areas of Grammar and the way I presented it was not working since they struggled to grasp it. I had to explain it in a completely different way. Instead of having this table of information, I started using examples. I got some texts and showed them examples. Sometimes, the student might need you to work through a particular question with them first before they try it by themselves. They might prefer to try it by themselves, and you go through it together. It’s just whatever works for that particular individual and you only know these things once you start.

What was the experience as a volunteer English tutor like for you?
I think it was hard work sometimes, as everything is, but it was good. It was rewarding when the students would say that they understood something, or they felt more confident or were looking forward to the next session. I also like the fact it’s one on one. I think that’s beneficial because, as I said, it means you get to give the student personalised attention. It’s been a fun, challenging, rewarding, and positive experience.

Would you recommend becoming a tutor with GT Scholars?
Yes, definitely. I’ve told some people about it actually, as I think it’s a good thing to volunteer. With some voluntary activities, you don’t get the feedback that tells you that what you’re doing is having an impact. With the GT Scholars programme, you do get that feedback because you get it from the student. You can see the student improving. And when you speak to the parents, they will also give you feedback. I think being a tutor with GT Scholars is a great thing to do.

What have you gained from volunteering with GT Scholars?
I think it’s just a positive thing to do as it makes you feel happy to know that hopefully, you’re making a difference in someone’s life by giving them more confidence and helping them to improve. While tutoring English, I was reminded of why I enjoyed it at school and what I enjoy reading. So in that way, it’s been good. If you find out what subjects they prefer, you can almost tailor your tutoring to that specific subject. So with English, you can make it quite technical. If they enjoy the technicality in the lessons, then present it in that way.

What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming a tutor with GT Scholars?
Go for it! Make sure that you use all the materials that you get. What I liked, through the GT Scholars matching process, is that I had students who were quite similar to me in personality. I think that’s good because it means it’s easier to build a relationship with them, and that makes the tutoring better.

Volunteer Spotlight – Mentoring has been a great experience and it’s nice to feel that you’re making a difference!

Volunteer Spotlight – Mentoring has been a great experience and it’s nice to feel that you’re making a difference!

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

For this spotlight interview, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Iona, a Geotechnical Engineer working in the offshore wind industry. It was great to hear about her experience as a mentor and why she decided to become a volunteer mentor. She also shares more about the goals she helped her scholar achieve and what she’s gained from volunteering as a mentor with GT Scholars. It was great to hear how passionate she is about helping young people achieve their goals!

Please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m currently a Geotechnical Engineer. I work in the offshore wind industry, where I design offshore wind turbine foundations. I did my undergraduate and PhD at Oxford. After completing experiments as part of my PhD, I decided to move into the industry and apply those skills in the real world.

Tell me a little bit about you and what got you to where you are today?
At school, I enjoyed Science and Maths, Art, and more practical subjects. I did a bit of research and decided that engineering might be a good fit. I did what’s called a Head Start residential course, where you can go and stay at the university for about four days. They give you a taster of what it’s like to study that subject at University. Doing this convinced me that engineering was a good fit for me and gave me the confidence to apply for it at University.

What made you decide to become a volunteer mentor?
While I was at university, I engaged in quite a bit of outreach work and found it rewarding and wanted to continue that when I moved to London. I feel that I’ve benefited from lots of advice from different places, to help me get to where I am today. I think that the inputs that you get from people who are outside of your school or family can be helpful and can maybe help build confidence in big decisions. I felt that I could give back and be involved with young people, to hopefully help navigate through some of the big decisions.

How did you get started as a volunteer mentor with GT Scholars?
I applied to GT Scholars online, and I was open to being either a mentor or a tutor. I wasn’t quite sure how I could or would be most helpful, so I spoke with GT Scholars about what might be best. I decided a mentor would be a good idea. We had online training, which was thorough and put me in a good position to take it on.  

What did you enjoy most about mentoring your scholar?
It has been rewarding to see the scholars that I work with build their confidence through our conversations. We’ve discussed such a wide variety of topics. From revision and studying strategies to personal strengths and weaknesses and how that impacts the way we study and learn and build relationships. It’s just been great to provide support, and a bit of a sounding board, through this period as well, with school being on and off and having a lot of uncertainty with exams.

What goals have you helped your scholar to achieve?
At the start, we set a lot of goals for the kind of grades to achieve, and of course, that’s been almost impossible this last year, so we’ve planned more short-term goals. We’ve focussed quite a lot on discussing subjects such as the growth mindset and understanding strengths and different personalities. We did this during the period when there was uncertainty in school, so we turned our focus away from exams, which I think was helpful. Recently, I’ve helped my scholar plan revision. We are trying to minimise stress by prioritising the different tasks, particularly now where there’s quite a lot coming up at once. 

What part of the volunteering process have you found the most fulfilling?
I suppose just being there to support someone else through this strange year, knowing that I have made some small contribution to their life. I think it’s valuable in having or being exposed to experiences or opinions or just advice from someone outside of your school or family life, providing a slight alternative touchpoint.

What do you think is the most important skill to have as a volunteer mentor?
Listening and communicating are valuable skills to have as a mentor. Being able to lend an ear to whatever is going on and trying your best to think of creative ways to discuss it further. Having meaningful conversations is a really crucial part of mentoring.

What was the experience as a volunteer mentor, like for you?
It’s been a great experience and nice to feel that you’re making a difference. And from GT Scholars, it’s been a smooth experience with excellent communication. I have felt very well supported throughout the process.

How important has support been in getting you to where you are today?
Support has been essential, particularly with big decisions. You lean on those around you to help you out with those decisions. One of the reasons I think mentoring is so valuable is that it’s providing an alternative form of support, which can be really valuable.

What have you gained from volunteering with GT Scholars?
I’ve developed my communication skills. I don’t usually talk to young people that much, so I had some learning here. I’ve also learnt from some of the worksheets I’ve done together with my Scholar – for example on ‘growth mindset’!

What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming a mentor with GT Scholars?
I would say give it a go. The commitment is manageable. But at the same time, it’s enough of a commitment to feel like you’re involved in something good. The support from GT Scholars is also excellent, so you should feel well supported. I definitely recommend volunteering as a volunteer mentor with GT Scholars.

Volunteer Spotlight – It is rewarding to share knowledge that I’ve gained along the way

Volunteer Spotlight – It is rewarding to share knowledge that I’ve gained along the way

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

Volunteer spotlights are always so inspiring and in our latest volunteer spotlight interview, we had the chance to sit down with Antonio who has been a volunteer mentor with us for almost two years. During this interview, he shares more about his passion to diversify the architecture sector and how volunteering with GT Scholars has helped him to reach out to more young people about careers in architecture. You can read the full interview below.

Can you please tell me a bit about yourself?
I’ve been working as a qualified architect since 2012. I’m currently working in a practice that focuses on private residential homes and also some social housing. During my career, I worked on many fascinating and interesting projects, including a museum in Brixton.

What made you decide to become a volunteer mentor?
I’m really passionate about trying to diversify the architectural profession. Being of dual heritage, I’m very aware that architecture generally doesn’t attract people from diverse backgrounds. I think that architecture can benefit from having more voices from all sorts of different backgrounds. I think it would be great if we can diversify the profession. Being part of the Online Careers Summit helped me reach out to young people. The session helped them believe that they can be architects and understand what architecture is all about.

How did you get started as a volunteer mentor?
I first signed up to be a mentor because I’m at a point now in my career where I’ve got lots of experience and knowledge, and I’d like to share this with people. Mentoring with GT Scholars offers a platform for this. It’s a great way to get positive outreach for the goal of diversifying the profession. I think I’ve had two mentees so far, one long-running and one who wants to be an architect as well. That’s been a really great experience. Hopefully, I assisted her and helped her understand how to become an architect. I was glad to be part of that process.

What part of mentoring have you found the most fulfilling?
It is rewarding to share knowledge that I’ve gained along the way. I love to work, collaborate and share knowledge with other people. It’s nice to be able to give back to people. Having built up experience, knowledge, and expertise myself, I think mentors can be crucial. It’s quite an important role to undertake because you’re offering your expertise in a particular field that they might be interested in or anything in life that they might be facing. So it’s a key role for young people to help them find the right path and build the right career path going on from that as well. I’ve enjoyed taking that responsibility and helping others to find out where they want to go in life.

What goals have you helped your mentees achieve?
One of the main things is goal setting. It’s helping them to find out what they want to achieve and what goals they want at this stage in their life. Where do they want to be? How do they want to achieve it? And how do they get there as well? Mentoring is a great way to open someone’s eyes to the many possibilities out there. 

Did your mentees have any challenges, and how did you help them overcome these challenges?
The challenges have been more about understanding, especially with the most recent mentee who is interested in becoming an architect. The challenge for her was understanding what an architect does. It was getting her to see what I do day in and day out because it’s not just about designing buildings. It’s about designing buildings that work for people. One of the main things is helping to create expectations and an understanding of what she’s interested in and what that means in real life. Rather than just knowing that she wants to design buildings.

Did you face any challenges while mentoring?
Before having worked with GT Scholars, the challenge I had was to define my role specifically. There’s a great guide from GT Scholars about what to do and excellent guidelines and templates that you can follow. I had to negotiate with an individual and figure out what they needed to get out of this process. The challenge for me is trying to negotiate that system and understand how to get the most out. I guess that the other issue is that we’ve had to do this online quite often (during the pandemic). That makes it difficult to gauge people’s reactions, even though you can see their faces. It’s hard to gauge people’s reactions without being in the same room as them. 

As a mentor, what do you think is the most important skill to have?
I think that one of the important things is to be patient with young people. You have to remind yourself that you’re working with young people and trying to help them to get to the place that they want to be. Sometimes, they might not know where that place is. One of the key skills is to be patient and listen to your mentee to try and understand what they’re going through.

How important has support been in getting you to where you are today?
I think support is very important. I’ve never actually had a mentor, although I’ve always tried to find one throughout my career. I’ve tried to find people who I can learn from and look up to. As I said, I haven’t had an official mentor before, but finding people that you can build a support network through, is important. It makes it easier to set goals and to help you achieve those goals. The better your relationships are with your colleagues, and the bigger your support network, the more assistance you’ll have to reach those targets.

How has the experience as a volunteer mentor been for you?
I’ve been really lucky and grateful to volunteer with GT Scholars. I have found them to be supportive. If I had any questions during my mentoring sessions, the GT Scholars team has always been there. They have all helped enable me to perform better in my role as a mentor. Additionally, during the Careers Summit, the team at GT Scholars created loads of helpful information to help us through that process.

What did you gain from volunteering as a mentor?
I found it rewarding to work with young people and hopefully helped them achieve their goals. It also gives you better leadership skills and more skills in dealing with young people. That can only be useful as I go through my career as I’ll need to consult with young people when I design buildings.

Would you recommend anyone to become a volunteer mentor?
Yes, absolutely! I find it interesting and exciting. Even though you get to meet young people in my line of work, you don’t meet them in that same capacity. They’ve got fascinating minds, and it’s exciting to work with people of that age.

What would your message be to anyone that’s now thinking about volunteering or becoming a mentor?
I would say go for it! Do what you can to help people out! If you’ve got the time, passion, and desire to do this, no matter your age or experience. Nothing is stopping you, and GT Scholars will help you perform well in your volunteer mentor role!

Volunteer Spotlight – Spending an hour at a time, just talking to them, working through a text, or reading a newspaper article was so enjoyable!

Volunteer Spotlight – Spending an hour at a time, just talking to them, working through a text, or reading a newspaper article was so enjoyable!

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

At GT Scholars, we have a great team of volunteer tutors and mentors who are passionate about helping young people learn, grow, and achieve their goals in life. We have regular spotlight interviews with our volunteer tutors & mentors where they have the opportunity to share more about themselves and why they decided to become a volunteer. Have a look at our latest spotlight interview with one of our tutors, Jennifer.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and what got you to where you are today?
I play the orchestra for a ballet company as a classical musician. I also give one-to-one music lessons twice a week. I grew up in the North East and went to a good state school, and I had a lot of extra music lessons. Then when I was 18, I moved to Germany to attend music college. I always wanted to be a musician but was not sure I would get into any colleges, so I decided to give it a go somewhere far away. I spent four years in Germany and then did a Master’s degree in London. I started freelancing as a musician and got my job with the ballet a few years later.

What made you decide to become a volunteer tutor?
Through my work, I visit different schools doing music experience days or just working with the children. I think that the difference in provision is shocking. I spent a few days at some famous boarding schools, and I also went to some good state schools with nowhere near the same kind of facilities. During these visits, I met lovely children and young people in both settings. However, when I meet a young person in some places, and they just come across as a bit shy or a bit uncertain, I think for them, If you were going to a school that’s like a castle, would you feel differently about yourself? Would you have more confidence and maybe also feel more entitled to the higher grades? I just noticed that unfairness sometimes. I found that GT Scholars is an educational charity that wants to help ambitious children achieve higher grades. These children may need just a little bit more help than they’re getting now, and that’s why I wanted to start tutoring.

How did you get started as a volunteer tutor with GT Scholars?
I occasionally heard of GT Scholars. I found a link to their website on the Mayor of London website. From that point, I found it all very straightforward. I had to do the usual sort of application process, and then there was an interview at some stage, which is quite enjoyable and easy.

What did you enjoy most about tutoring your scholar?
English was my favourite and strongest subject at school, so it was nice to start getting into it again. I enjoyed going back to analysing poetry and delving deeply into novels. The young people I’ve met so far from the programme had different personalities and backgrounds, but engaging and lovely young people. Spending an hour at a time, just talking to them, working through a text, or reading a newspaper article was so enjoyable.

What part of this tutoring process have you found the most fulfilling?
The conversations that I’ve had with my young people have sometimes surprised me. They have a different opinion to what I was expecting or a different take on something, and that’s probably the most fulfilling thing. When they show a marked improvement on something that they’ve done before, I love that! If they show that they’ve gained understanding and jumped a great boundary, that makes me happy for them.

What goals have you helped your scholar to achieve?
I had a scholar who was very aspirational and wanted to get into a good university. I pointed out a couple of things to them that would help them make that switch and get the highest grade possible. I had another tutee who was not confident at all in her abilities in English. She struggled with it at school. I recommended that she start reading some poetry for her enjoyment because she enjoyed that aspect of what we were doing. I was pleased to hear that she had got herself a book of poetry, and she enjoyed reading it.

What challenges did you face while tutoring your scholar?
It wasn’t exactly a challenge. At the beginning of the programme, I put in some homework in my own time. I didn’t do English at University, so I did a lot of reading about the syllabus and curriculum and what they might be doing at school. I also completed some GCSE past papers. I felt that I needed to do this at my end.

Why do you think tutoring is valuable to young people?
I think that one-to-one attention is all a young person needs. If a young person has a quiet disposition and is sitting in a classroom, they might not put their hand up if they do not understand. If you sit and talk to someone online for an hour and are unsure, they can ask you, and you can chat about it until they understand. That is probably the main thing. There is value for a young person in an hour of uninterrupted attention, where they will have to accept some criticism on their work. It’s good for a young person’s confidence to explain their work and justify it to another adult.

What do you think is the most important skill to have as a volunteer tutor?
I think you need to care about and connect with your tutee from the beginning. You also need to enjoy the subject you’re tutoring and be good at it and transfer that enthusiasm for the subject to your tutee. That will help them enjoy what they are doing and feel more motivated to do their homework.

How important has support been in getting you to where you are today?
Extremely important! When I started my career as a Musician, I often played alongside older and more experienced colleagues. I have always been very open to any criticism that comes my way, and I have been lucky to have had colleagues who informally mentored me. They have offered a lot of feedback on what I can do better, and I have been happy to take that feedback onboard from them.

What have you gained from volunteering with GT Scholars?
I found it very fulfilling. It is a lovely way to spend an hour or so of your time every week. I got to do some interesting reading. Even some of the GCSE past papers, in their way, are fun. If you read this with a young person who has a fresh perspective, it’s really fun.

Would you recommend becoming a tutor with GT Scholars?
Definitely! Like I was saying before, it is just an hour of your time every week. You get to make a connection with someone that you haven’t met before. It’s good, especially now when everyone has been in solitary for so long. For me, that helped, particularly over lockdown. It also gave me something to look forward to, and have an interesting conversation with and hopefully helped them in some way.

What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming a tutor with GT Scholars?
Apply to GT Scholars! You’ll learn a lot about the programme through the application process. A lot of material is provided during the process so that you know exactly what to expect. I would recommend it to anyone interested in volunteer mentoring or tutoring, and would definitely say, give it a go!

Friends of GT Scholars – A Spotlight Interview that will inspire!

Friends of GT Scholars – A Spotlight Interview that will inspire!

Friends of GT Scholars Volunteers

[Dramatic Intro Music] It’s summer in England, and here we have the avid newsletter reader, in his most natural habitat. At any moment now, this reader will move into a slightly different behavioural territory, commonly referred to as… the weekend. [Music stops abruptly]… Okay, I’ll cut it out now – It’s Sir David Attenborough 95th birthday tomorrow! I just had to give a quick tribute to him! I hope you’ll have a magnificent weekend, but before we leap into it, here’s this week’s newsletter!

Spotlight Interview with one of our mentors, Nadeem!
Recently we had the pleasure to interview one of our amazing volunteer mentors, Nadeem. During this interview, he gave a great insight into his volunteering experience. One key message he shares is that the human potential is only limited by imagination and by the people around the individual, and that as a mentor, one of the fundamental roles you can play is to help open your mentee’s imagination! You can read the rest of this inspiring spotlight interview here!

Design an online course for young people!
Teaching is an art, and passing on knowledge is a gift! If you’re looking for an opportunity to reconnect with your inner teacher and support young people, look no further! Our virtual course creation opportunity might be the right fit for you. As a course creator, you will help us to expand our courses library for our Online Learning Hub. Sounds interesting? I’d love to find out what you have in mind. Just send me a quick email, and I’ll be in touch!

Are you InQUIZitive?
This fun quiz has been created just for our volunteers! It will only take 2 minutes, and it’s filled with fun gifs and random questions (It’s eerily accurate though). After completing the quiz, you’ll find out what your Volunteer Persona is. You might even discover a hidden talent! Feel free to let us know what your result was and if you feel we got it right! You can follow this link to fill in the quiz!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Marilyn van Heerden

Volunteer Spotlight – I believe the best way to give back is to build relationships with people and offer support!

Volunteer Spotlight – I believe the best way to give back is to build relationships with people and offer support!

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

At GT Scholars, we have a great team of volunteer tutors and mentors who are passionate about helping young people learn, grow, and achieve their goals in life. We have regular spotlight interviews with our volunteer tutors & mentors where they have the opportunity to share more about themselves and why they decided to become a volunteer. Have a look at our latest spotlight interview with one of our mentors, Nadeem. He shares more about why he decided to become a mentor and his experience as a volunteer with GT Scholars.

Why did you decide to volunteer in the first place?
Several things added to my decision, but I would say the driver of this came from my son. He just finished his first degree and was on his way to study for his masters. He was considering teaching as a profession, and we spoke about my career around coaching and mentoring people. During the summer, he joined a charity that ran summer schools for bright teenagers aged 13-14 in deprived communities. He invited me to speak about my profession in Medicine at the summer school. I found this to be interesting and challenging. I enjoy coaching and mentoring, and developing people and found that I could do this by being a mentor at GT scholars.

Tell me about you and what got you to where you are today?
I was born in Uganda and arrived as a refugee in the UK in 1972. I faced many interesting challenges coming in as an immigrant but was given the opportunity of a good education, supported by my parents. Looking at the work both my wife and I did, I realised that the opportunities people are presented with, are the result of the environment they find themselves in. I also realised that I could help people to maximise their potential through my work as a medic and in coaching and mentoring.

Did you have a mentor growing up?
I didn’t have a mentor growing up. I think that I ended up identifying with people I respected as role models or peers, or peers I thought my parents would have described as good company. At the beginning of my medical career, I had mentors and coaches who helped me start in my role. I do believe that there is a huge advantage being on the receiving end of this relationship.

How did your experience with your mentor help you develop into your career?
It was very critical to my career being coached and mentored. I trained to be a mentor in the early 2000s, and during that time, mentoring wasn’t very common and rarely heard of. I found being a mentee a great experience, and it helped make a difference to my career choice as a Medic. Mentoring and coaching is a powerful relationship and tool when it is done well. You have an opportunity to influence people in what and how they think of their environment or their organisation.

How important has support been in getting you to where you are today?
My greatest support has been my wife. I always check back with her on the impact I’m trying to make in a person’s life. I always try to get the best type of support on whatever I want to do professionally. I believe that the best way to give back is to build relationships with people and offer support.

Why do you think mentoring is valuable to young people?
Mentoring can change a young person’s understanding of the world, the way they look at their current circumstances, the people around them, and what their future may or may not look like. It exposes them to a different way of thinking or exploring something. Mentoring can certainly help widen a young person’s horizons. In my experience, I’ve noticed young people who find themselves in difficult social circumstances have the sense that this must be the world, and this immediately limits their human potential. The role of mentoring is to try and change this by opening their imagination. I believe that the human potential is only limited by imagination and by those people around the individual. The work that GT Scholars does is extremely professionally framed. The wider the reach to help more young people, the better it will be for the community that these individuals are in and will find themselves in.

What did you gain from volunteering with GT Scholars?
I’ve learned a lot about myself. I learned to write notes in preparation for a session and to be responsive in the middle of a conversation. My first mentee was a very bright 13-year old boy, and I learnt a lot from his perspective on how he sees the world. In one of our sessions, I asked him a question, “How do you determine the validity of the knowledge that you require to make decisions about what you want to do?” The answer was social media and the number of followers and comments you receive. For me, this was quite striking. I went through a different social experience where social media wasn’t part of my childhood or my university education. It struck me that there is a whole different generation that is assessing knowledge in unique ways. They need to be addressed in ways that allow us to understand them better.

What do you think is the most important skill that a mentor should have?
I believe there are a few skills required to be a mentor. If I have to mention one, I’d say it’s to be a good listener. A mentor needs to be a good listener and not just let your mentee talk, but to listen to what, how, and why your mentee is saying something to you. Also, listening in which context something is being said. To maximise the value of the mentoring, you need to absorb what your mentee says to have a better perspective on how you can mentor and support your mentee.

What words of advice or what encouragement do you have for other up-and-coming mentors out there?
I would say go for it! You’d be surprised what you can contribute to a young person’s life through mentoring. The GT Scholars programme is very good and they have a very helpful team that will assist you along the way!

Friends of GT Scholars – 10 Ways to Volunteer Online with GT Scholars!

Friends of GT Scholars – 10 Ways to Volunteer Online with GT Scholars!

Friends of GT Scholars Volunteers

Goodbye April and hello long weekend! I hope you’ve had a great week so far and that you have something exciting planned for the Bank Holiday? Today is Honesty Day, so start the bank holiday off by being true to yourself and indulge in anything that makes you happy! I am already starting my day off with writing this week’s volunteer newsletter (which I love doing), to bring you some awesome volunteer news!

Discover 10 volunteering opportunities with GT Scholars
We have a variety of volunteering opportunities for mentors & tutors, but also for companies who are passionate about helping young people! This week we’d like to share a special volunteer blog & infographic with you, which explains all the volunteering options for volunteers and corporates who’re looking to get involved with volunteering and supporting young people. If you’d like to find out more about these volunteering opportunities, click here!

Check out our latest Volunteer Spotlight Interview!
We’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Rhys, one of our volunteer tutors. Rhys is passionate about helping young people learn, grow and achieve their goals in life. In this interview, Rhys says that tutoring is the most rewarding thing he’s done in his professional career. He also shares more about the skills you need as a tutor and says that changing your teaching style to suit your tutee’s needs is key! If you’d like to read the full interview, have a look here!

Share The GT Scholars Guide to Apprenticeships
We’ve put together The GT Scholars Guide to Apprenticeships to guide young people and parents to learn more about apprenticeships, before embarking on their apprenticeship journey! In this guide, we cover topics such as the different apprenticeship levels, pros & cons, tips to find the right apprenticeship & FAQs. If you know a young person or parent who’s looking into apprenticeship programmes, feel free to share this link with them!

Have a beautiful bank holiday weekend!

Marilyn van Heerden

Discover 10 Volunteering Opportunities with GT Scholars

Discover 10 Volunteering Opportunities with GT Scholars

Volunteers What's new?


Volunteering with GT Scholars is a great way to get involved with young people and help them in different areas of their lives. It’s the perfect opportunity to give back to your community and pass down knowledge and lessons that you have learnt throughout your life. Your support can help a young person achieve their goals & aspirations. Wondering how you can get involved? Have a look at these volunteering opportunities to find out which one is best for you.

Become a mentor
We’re always looking for more volunteer mentors to join our amazing team of volunteers and help support young people between the age of 14-16. As a mentor, you’ll help guide a young person as they plan for the future, help your mentee discover all the different options available to them, and give them the support & strategies they need to achieve their aspirations. To offer 1-to-1 mentoring support, you’ll spend 2 hours a month working with your mentee during a 12-week term.

Podcast Interview
Our Youth Board is on the lookout for professionals who are keen to be interviewed on their podcast called Young, Gifted & Talented! The podcast will be for young people to learn from professionals in different career fields. It will also help young people to have a better understanding of the working world and to make career decisions. To volunteer as a guest speaker on the podcast, you’ll need to be available for a 1-hour interview followed by a 30min Q&A session at the end. The podcast interview will be live, and you’ll also have a chance to answer questions from young people across the UK.

Connect with Schools & Parents
Do you or your company have some valuable information that you’d like to share with our network of over 5000 parents and young people? By volunteering to host a webinar, you can do so! A webinar will run for 90 minutes. Each webinar will be broken down into a 1-hour presentation and 30 min Q&A for parents and young people to ask questions. If you’d like to volunteer by sharing some information about your brand or company, this opportunity might be for you!

1-to1 Volunteer Tutoring
There are quite a number of young people between the age of 14 & 16 who need 1-to-1 support with Maths & English up to GCSE level. If you’re interested in helping a young person to reach their full potential in one of these subjects, you can do so by becoming an online volunteer tutor! As a tutor, you will be supporting your tutee for 1 hour per week during the 12-week term.

Careers day – Panel speaker
We host an Online Careers Summit twice a year for young people to learn from professionals from a wide range of career fields, different companies, and from diverse backgrounds. If you’d like to be part of our next Online Career Summit day, you can do so by joining as a guest speaker for one of our many panel sessions. Each panel session has a specific topic and runs for 90 mins.

Run a Masterclass or Workshop
If you have a specific skill that you’d like to share with young people so that they can learn or enhance their skills, you can volunteer to lead a live masterclass or workshop! Each masterclass or workshop will be between an hour and a half to two hours long. This is a great way to boost young people’s skills and build their confidence.

Create an online course
Create a personal development course for young people to watch in their own time. By designing an online course, you’ll have the opportunity to introduce your employer brand to over 20,000 young people in the UK. Each online course will be in between 1 hour & 3 hours long.

Run a Virtual Challenge
If your company is looking to reach more young people, they can do so by running a virtual challenge! Gamification & online challenges is a great way to boost young people’s skills. With this volunteering opportunity, you’ll be able to reach over 50,000 young people across the UK. Each virtual challenge will run from 6 to 12 hours.

Mock interviews
Help a young person by dedicating 1 hour of your time to have a practice interview session with them. This is a great way to give tips and advice to young people who’re getting ready for interviews. Your feedback will help a young person to be prepared, build confidence, and have a better understanding of what they can expect at their first interview.

Online CV Reviews
If you’re an HR specialist, creative writer, or designer, your feedback on a young person’s CV might make a world of difference to them! You can add value by sharing ideas, looking for grammatical errors and ways that they can improve their CV. By dedicating 30mins of your time, you can help a young person’s CV stand out from the rest!

We’re always happy to build our network of talented volunteers to help make a difference in the lives of young people! So, if you are interested in any of the volunteering opportunities listed in this blog, and you’re ready to start volunteering with us, please get in touch, and our recruitment team will guide you through the steps to get started.

Volunteer Spotlight – tutoring and volunteering are extremely rewarding!

Volunteer Spotlight – tutoring and volunteering are extremely rewarding!

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

At GT Scholars we have a great team of volunteer tutors and mentors that are passionate about helping young people learn, grow, and achieve their goals in life. We have regular spotlight interviews with our volunteers where they share a bit more about themselves and why they chose to volunteer. Have a look at our most recent spotlight interview with volunteer Rhys Rawlings.

Why did you decide to volunteer with GT Scholars?
Well, I’ve been a volunteer tutor for the last three years, for my family mostly. In March, I was put on furlough and found myself with a lot of time on my hands. One day, I saw on the news that children all over the country were being seriously affected by not having their full education. So I thought “Hey, you know what? I’m going to do something about that”. So I just naively went on to social media, and said, “I’ve got a Physics degree, and I’m happy to offer some Maths tutoring for free”. My reach wasn’t very good with my 2 followers! But I was able to start tutoring a few kids, so that was a good start. Then I thought to myself, there has got to be a business, or charity or something out there that has already done this work and identified the children who are struggling most. Off to Google I went and found you guys!

There was one thing on the website that stood out for me, “We believe that all young people have their own unique set of gifts, talents and strengths and they can achieve amazing things when they are given the chance to build on their natural strengths and develop new skills.”. When I saw that, I knew I had to get onboard. I have the exact same belief, so I instantly filled in the contact form and started the application process. Now I’m a tutor with GT Scholars, and it’s been great!

Tell us a little bit more about yourself, and what got you to where you are today?
At the moment, I’m a full-time tutor at Ashlawn School and a part-time tutor with Brilliant Grades and am training to be a Maths teacher. I have a degree in Physics, A* in Maths and A in Physics A-Level, and A* in Maths and Physics GCSE. In my free time, I actually do more Maths! There’s a cool Instagram page (mymathssolutions) that I follow who post some really cool algebra and geometry problems. Apart from Maths, I like spending time with my fiance and family.

I got to where I am today through hard work. Working hard at anything and everything I’ve done has always paid off. Putting the work in was always encouraged by my family and teachers.

Did you have a mentor or tutor before, and did you find it useful?
Yes, I had an English tutor after my GCSE’s. I actually got a D in my English GCSE, and I was in tears on results day! I found my tutor incredibly useful since all the lessons were tailored to my needs. After 4 months of weekly lessons, I was able to turn my D into a C! I’m very very grateful for the help I received from him.

What would you say you gained from having a tutor?
Well first, I gained a C in English! Looking back though, I’ve gained insight on how to be a good tutor/teacher. Which has been extraordinarily useful in the last few months since I’ve been tutoring full time.

How important has support been in getting you to where you are today?
It’s been extremely important to me. I needed the support to get my qualifications, to go to university, to get jobs, to volunteer and to establish a career. Having an education, and the support that goes along with that, is one of the most important things you can do. It can set a solid foundation for a meaningful life.

Why do you think tutoring is valuable to young people today?
I think the value in tutoring comes from its difference to teaching in a classroom. The first difference is that you spend all your time focusing on one child. The second is that you only cover the topics that they’re struggling with. So given enough time, there’ll come a point where they are no longer struggling with any topics. Now they’re able to get the best possible grades in an exam. Then go on to study at the best possible university, and get the best possible job. The value in tutoring is the ability to turn all academic weaknesses into strengths, which is a prerequisite to go onto to lead the most successful life possible.

What have you gained from volunteering with GT Scholars?
I’ve gained the ability to help those who need it most. This is what I was intending to do when I first set out to do tutoring. To spend my free time, helping the largest number of children, achieve the highest possible grades.

What part of the volunteering process have you found was the most fulfilling?
The most fulfilling part is the lightbulb moment I see on my student’s face when they understand a part of maths we’ve been working on. Then when I can see their marks improving through the year, I know all the work has paid off. Nothing beats that.

What do you think is the most important skill that a volunteer or a tutor should have?
I would say the most important skill to have is to be adaptable. You have to be able to change your teaching style to suit your tutee’s needs. I really like working one to one with young people, being able to give your full attention to a child makes them feel more supported. This leads to us strengthening all of their weak points, allowing them to achieve the highest grades.

What message do you have for other tutors out there, tutors that want to give their time or want to join GT Scholars?
My message is that tutoring and volunteering are extremely rewarding. I can confidently say that tutoring is the most rewarding thing that I’ve ever done in my professional life. For whatever reason, your tutee’s needs aren’t being met in the classroom. And that isn’t necessarily the teachers’ fault. But because of this, the responsibility of your tutee’s education rests on you. That’s a very large responsibility to take on, so before you start, really think about why you want to start tutoring. The reason must be meaningful to you. If you do have a good reason to, and decide to start tutoring with GT Scholars, it will be an amazing journey.

Friends of GT Scholars – Thank you for your help this term! 💌

Friends of GT Scholars – Thank you for your help this term! 💌

Friends of GT Scholars Volunteers

How are you? I hope you’ve had a good week so far? It’s definitely been an interesting week with the ease of lockdown restrictions & the unexpected snowfall at the start of the week! But nonetheless, Summer is still on its way! For now, I’m really looking forward to the new term starting on the 26th of April and getting to work with so many talented young people and volunteers again.

Here’s to another great term!
As the term comes to an end, I’d like to send out a huge thank you to everyone who volunteered their time to tutor or mentor a young person! You guys rock! With the help of our esteemed volunteers, we delivered over 330 hours of tutoring and mentoring support to young people on the programme! At the moment we’re in the process of gathering feedback from parents, scholars and volunteers, and we’ll be able to share this with you soon! Thanks once again for all your help this term!

Please help to share our programme!
From our experience working with young people, we learned that a multi-strategy approach of tutoring, mentoring and personal development can help young people achieve their goals beyond academic attainment. The Bright Ambitions programme combines all 3 of these elements, and applications for this programme are open until 24th April. There are also scholarships available. If you know of a parent or young person aged 11-16 that would be interested in this programme, please share this link with them.

A blog to inspire new & experienced volunteer tutors!
The new term will start in just a couple of weeks, and there’s still time to sign up as a volunteer tutor, hit reply if you’re keen. If you’re a volunteer tutor getting ready for the new term, or a new tutor planning to start your very first session soon, we’ve got a blog for you! In this blog, we share some great tips on how you can get started with your sessions and how you can build strong and impactful relationships with your tutee and their parents! Head over to our blog page to have a look at this blog for tutors!

Have a wonderful week!

Marilyn van Heerden