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Meet one of our Volunteer Tutors – Claire

Volunteer interviews Volunteers What's new?

As part of our volunteer spotlight series, we interviewed one of our amazing volunteer English tutors, Claire. You can watch the full interview in the video linked above. You can also find the transcript below.

My name is Claire and I’m in HR for a large consumer goods organisation and I’m a volunteer tutor with GT Scholars.

Why did you decide to start volunteering with GT Scholars?
So I guess the key thing why I decided to become a tutor is, I was born partially deaf, and I think one of those things is because of that people didn’t have very high expectations of myself. I worked really hard and I have become, some people would say, successful.

I got an awful lot of help along the way from my family, from some key people that helped me keep on that journey and I am hugely grateful to them and as a result of that, I think I do want to help other people realise their potential. Everyone has got so much potential and if I can give something back and have other people realise their potential then that’s what I’d really love to do. So that’s how I came to look for tutoring and looking to give back in some way in the same way that people gave to me which is listening, teaching, coaching. So that’s how I started looking at tutoring.

How did you get started as a volunteer tutor with GT Scholars?
So the way I got started with GT Scholars and how I found GT Scholars was simply researching for volunteering and tutoring. So I found it through Google and what stopped me at GT Scholars was how professional it all was. The website was really professional and there were loads of information, every question I had was pretty much already answered on the website.

And then I got in touch via the email and I got really great responses, really quick responses.

So I followed through the process which was you know, intimidating at times, sometimes I felt like I am being judged for the first time, but really nice people that I met throughout the whole process.

And I got signed off to become a tutor, and then I just got started in terms of onboarding. The other thing about the onboarding, it was really impressive, so for me as an HR professional, onboarding is important, and it was a really good process, really good training and lots of support now while I’m tutoring as well.

What was the experience as a volunteer English tutor like for you?
Now how I got started with the tutoring with the very initial stages was making the arrangements with Samuel and his father for the initial session and then having that initial call. We had a telephone call initially then we moved on to Skype and we decided that was the one, we looked at Google Hangouts and Skype and there are so many great options these days but Skype worked pretty well for us.

So that first session was just getting to know Samuel, him getting to know me and really understanding what he wanted out of it because there are so many things you can cover in this session and its limited time. Then we just ran through that and really sort of clarified some specific points that he wanted to learn about. Then I had to go and do research because I haven’t done the English language for such a long time so we had an initial session and we had exam questions to help me assess where he was and then we focused in on a couple of areas. Then we just met each time each week through Skype. Having that face to face contact in the video, I think it’s actually really helpful and really convenient being able to do that from home, from this seat actually and having those conversations each week and trying to move it forward, trying to help him decide where he wanted to focus as well. I think that’s one of the really important things about being the tutor is listening. So I had loads of ideas about what I thought we could talk about and actually it was quite different. So Samuel needed quite specific things and I hope that was helpful for him and a lot of it was conversation, having good conversation about what the examiners are looking for and therefore how he can respond and this is specifically for example about managing time making sure you get to all of the questions in the exams and giving good points across each of those questions.

What have you enjoyed most about volunteer tutoring?
So I think one of the things I found really fulfilling during this process is when you see the ‘aha’ moments and you just see the ‘oh that is a different way of looking at it that I haven’t seen before’, that’s been really powerful. Other things I enjoy are that sense of imparting what I know and thinking that you can make a difference in that way.

And I guess the final thing would be making space for conversation – a safe space for someone in this case to have a really open conversation around what’s worrying him and him being able to talk about that.

What challenges have you as a volunteer tutor helped your scholar overcome?
So the kind of challenges that Samuel seems to have had help with in terms of the conversations that he and I have had, a key thing has been around timing. So managing his own time both in preparing for our sessions doing the homework and then in exams, so that has been quite a lot of our conversations. It’s how he plans for that and how he then makes that impact during the exam so that he can get better marks as he goes forward.

What challenges did you face as a volunteer tutor?
There were some challenges to being a tutor. So one of them is being organised so I have to make time to do my preparation. I had to put myself in Samuel’s shoes, think about what would be the right conversation for us to have and about the material that should help him and then really being present during the sessions and just allow that mental space for him and I to have a great conversation and let all the distractions go.

Why do you think tutoring is valuable for young people?
I think tutoring offers quite a lot to young people. A big part of that is simply dedicated time with someone who is listening to you and answering your unique questions and thinking about you and your unique scenario. So that’s a key thing just that mental space and commitment from somebody.

I think the other bit is, of course, the knowledge that they’re gaining from somebody else who has taken the time to listen to the specific challenges that they are facing and that they want help with.

What would you say to anyone thinking about becoming a volunteer tutor with us?
So if anyone is thinking about tutoring I really recommend it. GT Scholars is a really professional organisation to do it with. You get a huge amount of support at every step of the way. So GT Scholars is really good and tutoring is really fun. You get some time with a young person, the kind of people that maybe you don’t get time to interact with elsewhere in your life and you really get to make an impact on one person’s life and who knows what that leads to.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. Our after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme is designed to help young people aged 11-18 achieve their academic and career aspirations. Visit our website if you’d like to know more about the GT Scholars Programme and how you can become a volunteer tutor to make a significant difference in young people’s lives.

What is an Enhanced DBS and why do our Volunteer Tutors and Mentors need this?

What is an Enhanced DBS and why do our Volunteer Tutors and Mentors need this?

Volunteers What's new?

Volunteering as a tutor or mentor for young people is a great way to give back to your community, to help young people that require assistance, and to be an inspirational role model.

At GT Scholars we aspire to recruit the best volunteers to tutor and mentor young people. They need to have the right skills, a positive outlook, and the ability to communicate effectively. It is also our responsibility to ensure that all our volunteers have undergone safeguarding training and have completed an Enhanced DBS check. This is to ensure the safety of our scholars.

With the DBS check, we ensure that no unsuitable person will engage with any of the scholars on our programmes. To help you understand more about this DBS check and how the process works, we have answered a few important questions.

What does DBS stand for?
DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service. It is merging of the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) and the ISA (Independent Safeguarding Authority) to carry out the same purpose of both organisations under one body.

What is the purpose of a DBS check?
This certificate has been put in place by the government to ensure that unsuitable people do not work with individuals that are vulnerable such as children and young people. It is essential for the safety of all vulnerable groups of people.

Who needs to have a DBS check?
Every job will differ on the type of DBS check they will require from an individual, but any person who wishes to work with children and vulnerable adults will need an enhanced DBS certificate. This is to ensure the safety of these groups.

What are the 3 types of DBS checks?

  • Basic Disclosure – this is more of a criminal record check that may be required for applying for a visa or personal licence
  • Standard DBS – a check that will show all convictions, warnings or cautions on a person’s record and is usually required when applying for a job
  • Enhanced DBS – similar to the standard but this can include any relevant information by the police and this check is required when working with children and vulnerable groups.

How can you get a DBS check?
You can either apply for one directly from the DBS via an online application or you can apply via a responsible organisation that is registered with the DBS.

How much does DBS check cost?
A standard DBS will cost around £30 and an Enhanced DBS around £50. For volunteers, the Enhanced DBS will cost around £10.

What do you need in order to do a DBS check?
A person needs to attach at least 3 documents to their application for a DBS check – one document from Group 1 and two documents from either Group 1, Group 2a or Group 2b.

Group 1 is for primary identity documents such as:

  • Passport
  • Biometric Residence Permit
  • Current Driving Licence
  • Birth Certificate
  • Adoption Certificate

Group 2a is for trusted government documents such as:

  • Current Driving Licence (countries outside the EU excluding Isle of Man and the Channel Islands)
  • Current driving licence paper version – if issued before 1998
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage / Civil Partnership Certificate
  • HM Forces ID Card
  • Firearm Licence

Group 2b is  for financial and social history documents such as:

  • Mortgage statement
  • Financial statements
  • P45 or P60 statements
  • Council Tax Statement
  • Bank or Building society statements
  • Credit card statement
  • Utility bill (not mobile phone bill)
  • Benefit statements such as pension or child benefit
  • Entitlement documents given by a government agency/council
  • Sponsorship letter from future employer – for applicants residing outside the UK during application
  • EU national ID card
  • Cards with PASS accreditation logo – UK, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands
  • Letter from headteacher or college principal – for 16-19-year-old UK citizens in full-time education (exceptional circumstances)
  • Work permit or visa

How often do we need to renew our DBS?
The DBS certificate expires after 3 years, then it will need to be renewed. There is also the option of the DBS Update System that costs approximately £13 per year and will renew the certificate every year from the date of issue.

We hope that after reading this you would understand the need for a DBS check when you volunteer with us. We aspire to create a safe environment for all our scholars and to offer them the best tutors and mentors without any compromise.

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

How volunteer tutors and mentors can make the most out of their volunteer experience

How volunteer tutors and mentors can make the most out of their volunteer experience

Volunteers What's new?

Volunteering can be a unique experience since you are providing services to young people who need it, but you are also benefiting from a wonderful and fulfilling opportunity. Although you do not gain financially from volunteering, the benefits you do get can make a significant impact on your personal life or career.

To ensure that your volunteering experience will be a good one, you should first make sure that you join an organisation that does work you are passionate about, or that matches your skills or interests. After that, you will then be able to make the most out of our volunteering experience.

Below are a few tips on how volunteer tutors and mentors with GT Scholars can make the most of their experience as a volunteer. We will look at some of the benefits of volunteering and tools you can use to avoid being in a volunteering environment that does not allow you to achieve your personal goals.  

Understand the benefits
Your personal development goals are a core part of your volunteering experience, and your ability to meet them could be the deciding factor in whether or not you continue to volunteer. Fortunately, many of the benefits of volunteering tie into helping you achieve your personal goals. For example, volunteering allows you to gain valuable work experience and develop your skills. This improves your employment chances as potential employers will see that you have some practical experience.

Additionally, volunteer work is a great way to expand your professional network, which can also improve your chances of employment and the number of opportunities you have access to. If your personal goal is to become more employable, volunteering can definitely help you achieve it.

Volunteering also gives you a chance to develop your skills. This is because as a volunteer tutor you are able to continuously sharpen your academic and teaching skills and develop your self-confidence through teaching others. This can help you make the most out of your volunteering experience as you receive the direct benefit of improving your skills, and you also feel good about yourself because you helped someone else to learn in the process.

Know what you want
You should understand the reasons behind your decision to become a volunteer tutor or mentor. Questions you should consider include: What you want to get out of your experience, what are you willing to sacrifice to be a good tutor, are you able to meet the commitments of volunteering etc.

It is important to know why you are becoming a volunteer as having a purpose or a specific passion will help you to stick to your volunteering commitment in the long term. So asking yourself these questions is important as it can help you decide if being a volunteer tutor or mentor is something you really want to do.

Make good use of your time
If you ensure that you make good use of your time as a volunteer tutor or mentor, it will be easier for you to achieve your personal development goals. As previously mentioned, being a volunteer has many benefits, but in order to make the most out of your volunteering experience, it is important for you to use these benefits to help you achieve your personal goals.

For example, if your personal goal is to get a full-time job, then throughout your time as a volunteer tutor or mentor you should be measuring any improvements you make that would be relevant to the job you want. This is so that when you apply for the job, you are able to demonstrate the improvements you made. So to make the most of your time as a volunteer, it is important to always consider your personal goals and how you can use your time to achieve them.

Make the commitment
An important consideration for volunteering is understanding the commitment it takes. Your time is valuable and volunteering can be a significant commitment. So in order to make the most of your volunteering experience, it is important to make sure that you are able to make the commitment. This will make your experience more enjoyable, and if the tutoring or mentoring sessions are enjoyable, it will make your experience more beneficial.

Showing up and always doing your best to assist the scholars will help them to feel more confident in your abilities and then their own abilities as a result. It will also help create a good reputation for you, which is important when you need references for new career opportunities. People notice hard workers and those who put in their best effort. So sticking to your volunteering commitment and maximising the time you spend is key in making the most of your volunteer experience.

Communicate and enjoy yourself!
It is important to understand what is expected of you as a tutor, and that GT Scholars knows what you expect of them. This comes down to maintaining good communication between you and GT Scholars. If you have questions or experience problems, do not be afraid to communicate this to the team so that they can help you. Understanding that you are always supported will make volunteering easier and more enjoyable.

Enjoying yourself is one of the most important factors in making the most of your volunteer tutor experience. This is why it is so important to engage in volunteer work that is in line with your passion, interests, and personal goals. This will make your whole experience very beneficial in the long run.

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

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Volunteer with Us

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Volunteer with Us

Volunteers What's new?

Volunteering with young people is a great way to give back to your community and to help those that require assistance in either their academic studies or personal wellbeing. At GT Scholars, we focus on helping young people to achieve their aspirations. We do this with assistance from selfless volunteers who sacrifice their time to help young people through tutoring and mentoring.

However, there are more ways that one can volunteer apart from tutoring and mentoring. Here are five quick and easy ways that you could make a difference with us.

Be a Volunteer Ambassador:
Are you a vibrant and outgoing person who would like to assist GT Scholars in reaching more people? Are you a graduate or professional with experience in public relations, marketing, business management or fundraising? Then you can volunteer as a GT Scholars Ambassador which involves being a liaison for us with your company or university.
You could help to bring in more volunteers, sponsorships, internships for young people, or even arrange to give the young people a career day experience at your workplace. Volunteer ambassadors are crucial in bridging the gap between GT Scholars and different areas of work and education, and they really help our organisation to grow and thrive.

Be a Volunteer Videographer/Photographer:
If you’re a skilled videographer or photographer, then you too can make a difference by volunteering your time and expertise. We are always having events and workshops that require a talented individual to capture the best moments. Your work will then be used on our website and in our newsletter which will be a great addition to your experience and portfolio.
So if you are passionate about what you do and want to help, this would be a great opportunity to show your support for a great cause.

Be a Volunteer at one of our workshops or events:
If you do not have the time to dedicate to tutoring or mentoring, but you would still like to help whenever you are free, then you should think about being a volunteer at our events or workshops. We run various enrichment events and skill-building workshops for young people that usually take place on Saturdays. We also run parent and pupil information sessions that usually take place on weekday evenings for schools across London.
Event volunteers help to ensure that the event, workshop or information session runs smoothly and that the attendees have a fantastic time. You can also choose to volunteer your time for the whole event or even just a few hours, so this volunteer role is flexible yet still impactful.

Be a guest speaker at our event:
Some of our enrichment events include a panel of speakers that will enlighten young people on a specific topic. For example, during our annual Careers Day, we have a panel of speakers from different professional backgrounds to inform attendees about their career and the different paths young people can take to reach career goals.
Volunteer speakers help to share their stories, the challenges they faced, the skills they had to learn etc. This would be a great way for you to inspire young people to achieve their aspirations, build their confidence, and understand their strengths. You will also motivate them to work harder and never give up.

Invite us to be a guest speaker at your event:
We are always looking for ways to share our vision with others and to widen our reach. So if you host events for undergraduates, graduates or professionals at your place of work or university, we would be delighted to be invited to speak and share our experiences and raise awareness for young people who need help to reach their aspirations.
You will be able to give us the opportunity to reach a much larger audience that could assist us in helping more young people to achieve their purpose while giving you the opportunity to diversify your events and show your support for a great cause.

If any of these volunteer opportunities sound interesting to you, please feel free to contact us and we will get you started. GT Scholars is dedicated to helping young people to achieve their aspirations and we would not be able to do this without an amazing team of volunteers.

Communication tips for volunteer tutors and mentors

Communication tips for volunteer tutors and mentors

Volunteers What's new?

Good communication is usually taken for granted in environments where adults work together since there is the assumption that everyone has the necessary communication skills to interact with people on a daily basis. However, when engaging with young people, one needs to pay close attention to good communication as it is an essential part of ensuring successful outcomes for them.

Good communication is central to working with young people as it fosters trust, and trust is necessary for building and maintaining relationships with them. This will allow them to reach their full potential as they will feel supported because they trust that you have their best interests at heart. So understanding what good communication involves is essential when working with young people.

Good communication is an active process
This entails being responsive and engaging when working with young people. More specifically, good communication requires active listening. Active listening is responding to cues while restating and drawing out the meaning of what the person is saying, combined with the expression of warmth, empathy and acceptance. Being responsive and making an effort to understand what the young person is communicating results in the young person becoming more confident as they feel that their thoughts and feelings have value.

Good communication does not just refer to the words we use
Good communication also refers to how we say things as the tone in which something is said can sometimes communicate more to a young person than the words that were used. There are also several forms of communication such as visual communication, body language, and sign language. The responsibility lies with the volunteer to identify which form of communication the young person is most receptive to. This will ensure that they understand the tasks they are given.
It is also important to note that the young person’s preferred form of communication may be influenced by personal factors such as culture or language. It is key that volunteers take the young person’s context into consideration when identifying the best form of communication for them, and be able to adapt communication styles as necessary.

Good communication involves being non-judgemental and approachable
It is important to be aware of how our attitude can affect young people. One should be supportive and reaffirming when communicating so that the young person does not feel judged and become closed-off or difficult to communicate with. When a young person feels comfortable, they are more likely to express themselves. In order to create an environment where the young person can openly communicate, a volunteer can use open questions. Open questions are a great communication tool as they encourage the young person to open up since they do not require definitive yes or no answers. Open questions encourage the young person to discuss their answer instead of giving one worded answers, and this helps develop good communication. You can learn more about open questions here.

Consider what stage of development the young person is in
To be able to develop communication styles and work strategies that encourage the young person’s participation, it is necessary to be aware of the needs of the young person. For example, if a young person is at risk of under-achievement, it is important to use language that does not intimidate the learner or make it seem that it is impossible for them to achieve their academic goals.
Conversely, if the young person has been working well and their levels of understanding are improving, the volunteer must communicate with them in a way that reflects that they recognise the improvements that the young person is making. This encourages good communication and helps develop the young person’s confidence when engaging with their work, as they will be able to recognise that they are making improvements and that they are capable.

Be aware of the barriers to good communication
There may be barriers to good communication which often discourages the young person from wanting to communicate. Firstly, ordering a young person to do something discourages communication. This is because young people do not like feeling as though they have no choice in the decisions involving them. A better way would be to discuss options with the young person or explain why they need to do something. This allows them to feel like their opinion matters and develops their self-confidence, which can foster good communication in the long term.
Another barrier to good communication is speaking with a threatening tone. An example of this would be saying something like: “If you keep doing this, you will fail the year” or “You better do this or else that will happen”. Communicating this way is negative and very discouraging for the young person which decreases their confidence in their abilities. So it is important to remember to use reaffirming and encouraging language that motivates the young person to keep working hard.

Your communication skills can influence how the young person will continue to communicate going into their future. Good communication with young people can help develop their self-confidence, which goes a long way in developing a positive attitude. So it is important for the volunteer to always be aware of how they communicate with young people by adopting and adapting the appropriate communication style for each young person they work with.

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

5 Discussion Topics for Volunteer Mentors to Include in Their Mentoring Sessions

5 Discussion Topics for Volunteer Mentors to Include in Their Mentoring Sessions

Volunteers What's new?

As a mentor, you want to help build your mentee’s self-confidence and help them to be more positive and goal-orientated, while also making sure that they are well-adjusted to the world around them. But how will you go about doing this during your mentoring sessions?

The easiest way to achieve this is to make sure you pay attention to your discussion points during each mentoring session. Discussion points help you to get to know your mentee better so that you can advise them and help them to come up with the right strategies to reach their goals. Here are five discussion points that will help get you started.

Ask them about their interests and hobbies
A great way to get to know your mentee would be to discuss their interests and hobbies. Finding out what they like to do in their spare time can help you find a common ground to gain their trust. It is also good to start with this to help your mentee to feel more relaxed and open. Everyone has at least one hobby that they love to do, so this will most certainly get them talking. From this, you will be able to expand the discussion.
For example, if reading is their hobby, you can discuss some of the books they’ve read and why they enjoyed some titles more than others. If it is music, you can discuss some of the artists they prefer listening to and why they may be more drawn to those artists. This can help you to understand more about them as a person.
It would also be useful for you to do some research on their hobbies and interests so that you can relate to them and encourage them to tell you more about themselves.

Find out what their favourite subject at school is
Finding out their favourite subject will help you to further identify with your mentee. It will help you to understand what they are good at since most people tend to like a subject that they excel in. From this, you can develop an understanding of the way they think. If they like maths, then you will know that their mind is more analytical and numerical, or if they like art, then you will know that their mind is more creative, and so on.
You can then find use this understanding to delve into other topics such as career goals.

Ask them about their strengths
Beyond their interests and favourite subjects, you can also directly ask them about their strengths. This can include an aspect of their personality that they may be proud of or a soft skill that they may have. For example, your mentee may feel that their strength is their patience or that they can communicate very well. If your mentee shares these personal attributes, it means that they are becoming more comfortable with sharing a more personal side of themselves with you – this is a big step in the mentoring process.
Sometimes they may not be aware of their personal strengths. This will be the perfect opportunity to tell them about a positive trait that you have noticed in them. It is always good to show your mentee the positive qualities that they possess to build up their self-confidence.

Talk about their career goals
One of the main aims of the mentoring programme is to help young people to reach their career aspirations. So it is always a good idea to discuss what your mentee would like to do after school and which career path they want to take.
Usually, they will have an idea of what they would like to do after school. In this case, you can help by shedding more light on the career they have chosen to follow, including providing a detailed explanation of what is required of them and what the actual job entails. This can include practical tips such as what they need to study in school, which university should they go to, should they do an apprenticeship etc.
Sometimes a young person may not know what career path they would like to pursue. In this case, you can help by looking at their interests and their favourite subjects in school. From this, you should be able to come up with a list of careers paths that your mentee might be inclined to. You can then discuss each career path in detail while encouraging them to decide for themselves.

Ask them where they see themselves in 5 or 10 years from now
Discussing their future will encourage them to raise their aspirations and work towards their goals. This can also perfectly tie up everything you may have gone through with the first four discussion points.
If you know their future goals, you can also help to set them up on the right path to achieve them. For example, if your mentee wants to study at Oxbridge, you can assist them by explaining the application process or helping them to write the best personal statement.

These discussion points are a great start to your mentoring sessions. However, every mentee is different and they may have different needs or may want to discuss different topics. You should always keep your mentee’s interests as the priority, while still maintaining control of the direction of your mentoring sessions. This will make your mentoring sessions both impactful and insightful.

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

7 Practical Tips For Online Tutoring

7 Practical Tips For Online Tutoring

Volunteers What's new?

In a world dominated by technology, online tutoring has become a convenient and reliable solution for young people seeking a tutoring programme. 

Although mostly similar to the classic method of in-person tutoring, there are a few differences that both the tutor and the student need to adapt to. This will ensure that they are able to reach their academic goals and get the most out of the tutoring programme.

Here are a few tips that tutors can use to make online tutoring work best:

  1. Set up the perfect learning environment
    Since the tutoring will be done online, most of the ‘human feel’ can be lost. However, this can be overcome by creating a more natural and relaxed environment for your student to feel welcome and not feel like they are alone in a room. Doing simple things such as asking the student to get a cup of tea or a glass of water can make them feel more at ease.
    You should also ensure that you have chosen a quiet and private place to do your tutoring so that you are not disturbed or bothered by loud noises. This helps you to remain focused and make the student feel like they are your first priority. Any distractions can cause your student to be unfocused, so you can also ask your student to put away their mobile phone so they are not tempted to check their messages or play games. Remember, young people will follow your lead so you should remove all distractions from your side as well.
  1. Be well organised
    To make sure that your time is used efficiently, ensure that you have structured the lesson well by making a lesson plan that is well organised. You should focus on reaching specific goals, while also allowing sufficient time for interaction and for the lesson to digress a little as you want it to feel more relaxed and not too rigid. However, if you find that the lesson is digressing too much, gently steer the conversation back to the problem at hand. You should also ensure that you have additional material in case you have a fast learner or if tutoring went by swiftly.
    On the technical side, ensure that your laptop or computer is fully charged and that there is no lag or delay with your internet connection. No one wants to be tutored if they have to keep waiting for the screen to stop buffering. If there is a technical glitch, ensure you have already established a back plan so that you and your student are aware of what to do should you be disconnected.
  1. Be easygoing and open while still maintaining professionalism
    The best way for a student to feel relaxed and at ease is to be open and easygoing, while still maintaining a level of professionalism. Finding the right balance can be hard, but with time, you’ll find it easier. You can use ice-breakers to make things lighter. You can also mix in a bit about your personal life in the conversation, but you don’t need to reveal too much about it. For example, it is fine to share some of your hobbies but it is not appropriate for you to share your dating plans. You should also keep conversations age-appropriate and avoid letting your personal problems from affecting your lesson as young people can sense when you are not in the right space of mind.
  1. Encourage discussion and interaction
    Always ensure that you set aside sufficient time for discussion and feedback. You can even allow for a few minutes of downtime by doing something that can allow them to refocus. It can be difficult to monitor their engagement during online tutoring so ensure that you make use of props, charts, or objects to help keep the student engaged. You can also find something that will allow you to connect with your student, such as music or making reference to movies or to a hobby that they may be interested in.
    You should also set realistic expectations, as each child has unique learning capabilities and will learn at their own pace. Do not rush through each lesson but rather be patient and remain focused. It will also be useful to develop an understanding of the kind of student you are tutoring. Some can be very direct and will give you a lot of feedback, while others can be more reserved and prefer that you do most of the talking.
  1. Set objectives and specific targets
    When planning your lesson, you should also set objectives and targets that you can use to measure your progress. Try to be slightly ahead of your targets so that if you fall behind a little, you will be able to easily catch up on your lessons. You should also ensure that you do not rush through your curriculum and that you adjust your lesson plan depending on the speed at which your student is learning. This means that your lesson plan has to be tailored to suit each student to ensure that you cover all sections of the subject that you are tutoring. You do not want to be rushing the last section if you did not plan correctly.
  1.  Prepare tests and quizzes
    The best way to measure your student’s progress and ensure if they have understood your tutoring is to set tests, quizzes, and assignments. Setting tests can help train the student to utilise their time well for their real exams. It can also help to specifically see where your student is excelling or falling behind. Tests can be scheduled ones so that your student can prepare for your test but it is also beneficial to set a spot test or two to ensure that your student is able to understand the work rather than just memorise it. Assignments help to allow the child to work independently and figure the work out on their own.
    Don’t set too long assignments or tests as this can deter them from doing the work since they already have homework from school. If they do fail the test, do not get upset or angry. Rather be supportive and encouraging as students thrive better in a positive environment. Use words like, “Let’s see where WE went wrong” or “Let’s see how WE can find another way to arrive at the correct answer.” Always be optimistic.
  1. Know your student and make tutoring fun
    Part of making online tutoring a success is to make sure you fully understand your student and what their needs are and how much can they retain before they become disengaged or uninterested. It is also important to keep tutoring fun so that the student is excited to learn and does not feel anxious or stressed for the tutoring session. Everyone retains much more when they are having a good time, so make sure to keep sessions exciting.

With these tips, you should be able to make your online tutoring sessions productive, impactful and useful so that your student can reach their academic goals.

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

How you can make a difference as an Events Team Volunteer and help us at our events, workshops and courses!

How you can make a difference as an Events Team Volunteer and help us at our events, workshops and courses!

Volunteer roles Volunteers

About GT Scholars
The GT Scholar’s programme is a social enterprise that consists of two programmes: The Academic Programme which offers online one-to-one tutoring and the Awards Programme that focuses on mentoring.

As part of both programmes, we also offer free access to our enrichment and skill building events that are hosted throughout London.  These events are designed for young people aged 11-18 years of age and include activities such as STEM activity days, study skill workshops and career days and trips to the city. We also run parent workshops and community engagement events to ensure that parents are aware of the academic and career opportunities available to their children.

What makes us different?
There are a range of charitable organisations and social enterprises offering programmes to improve the life chances of young people. However, The GT Scholars programme has the capacity to work with all state school pupils, not just those on Free School Meals. This means that pupil parents do not have to be on benefits and pupils do not need to be referred by their school in order to qualify for support.

What does volunteering at an event involve?
Volunteers who are interested in getting involved and supporting us at our events can help assist with various tasks and responsibilities.

  • You will need to arrive on time. If an event starts at 10:00am you will need to be there by 9:30am to meet the team and gain an overview of the event with the event coordinator.
  • You will help with setting up and clearing up at events.
  • You will assist to coordinate a smooth arrival and registration as well as departure for attendees and other guests. This can also include maintaining the register and managing any late attendees.
  • Assist with the coordination of lunch or refreshments for attendees.
  • Support workshop facilitators with managing groups of young people or parents.
  • Help with the distribution of stationary and workshop material.
  • Assist the event coordinator with ensuring the health and safety of attendees and overall risk management at events.
  • Give feedback to the event coordinators and programme managers at the end of each event.

When and where do our events take place?
Our events take place throughout various parts of London. Our events mostly take place on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm and we often have some events on weekday evenings, like our volunteer meetups, which takes place from 6pm to 9pm.

How much time do Event Team Volunteers commit to?
This is a flexible volunteering role. You will be volunteering as part of the Events Team and you’ll need to be available for approximately 6 events per year. All of our events take place on the weekend or weekday evenings and range from 2 to 8 hours in length.

To get started you’ll need to:
Be passionate and committed to tackling educational inequality

  • Be able to support at events as part of a diverse Events Team
  • Enjoy working with children and young people
  • Be able to remain calm under pressure
  • Be punctual and organised
  • Possess strong communication skills
  • Have excellent time management skills
  • Be able to work well as part of a team

Other important information for this role:
Please note that this is a volunteering role where you will be interacting with young people, therefore the following information must be noted:

  • Enhanced DBS check –  Before you can join the Events Team you will need to have a valid Enhanced DBS check that is dated within the last three years. If you do not have one we can process one for you. Please contact our office for further information on this.
  • Pictures – Please refrain from taking any pictures on the day, especially of the young people this forms part of our data and security policy. The volunteer photographer/videographer at the event will be responsible for capturing the day.
  • GDPR – To ensure we comply with the latest GDPR rules all data must be treated as confidential and must be returned to the events coordinator at the end of the event. Especially documents such as the attendance register.
  • Training – You will be provided with support and training for your role and will be briefed with any additional information on the day of the event.
  • Travel expenses -Any travel expenses within London will be reimbursed up to the amount of £12 for any session.

How to apply: Please attach your CV and a short cover letter through our contact form.

Meet one of our Volunteer Mentors – Sophie Germain

Meet one of our Volunteer Mentors – Sophie Germain

Private tuition Private tutors Volunteers What's new?

Who are the volunteer mentors of GT Scholars? Every once in a while we conduct an interview with one of our amazing volunteers so we can introduce them to you and share the good work they have been doing. Our volunteers form a crucial part of GT Scholars and their charitable deeds never goes unnoticed. We spoke to the lovely Sophie Germain to find out her views on social mobility and what she enjoys most about volunteering with GT Scholars.

Could you tell us about what led you to volunteering as a mentor with GT Scholars??
I try to explore a different area each year and I felt that volunteering with teenagers is one of the demographics I have not worked with before. I wanted to do something that was accessible to a lot of people and that was not limited to only a certain area you live in, the school you go to etc.

What are some of your opinions about social mobility?
In London, a perceived good area and a not so good area can be found in a commutable distance from one another. There are a lot of things to see and do and a lot is available for free. Perhaps in smaller towns, this mix is harder to find. Also once you’ve passed the stage of institutional education and you’ve started your career you are less likely to be type-casted based on where you went to school and it’s more about your experience. I went to a state school and some of my friends were in private schools but both groups have ended up in equivalent positions. Sometimes if you have a plan and you are dedicated to it, it is easier to achieve a particular goal if you have access to the correct information and the right people around you. However, there are certain historical and cultural issues that are still at play today that puts up barriers for some people. For example, an issue like the gender pay gap review due to male dominated boardrooms and industries. Balancing this will take a long time and to do it in a way that is fairer.

How did you come to this conclusion?
London has quite a high diversity level and when I was growing up it was common for children to socialise with other children who have a very different background to their own. In regards to gender, changes in attitude need to come from men and women. Including better grounds for the way children are raised and not pigeonholing them based on aspects such as gender. It also requires being open-minded in recruiting positions to not focus on gender, race, economic background, social circles etc.

What would you tell someone who is considering volunteering with GT Scholars?
It is a well-operated volunteer programme so I would recommend people to get involved. You get the chance to share new ideas and methods of learning with a young person who can benefit from it. It is nice to hear the dreams of a young person and help them to access the tools that they need to achieve them.

What do you enjoy the most about being a volunteer at GT Scholars? Well, it is early days for me because I have only done two terms so far. I would like to get more involved in the open days. But I would say that I enjoyed giving my mentees a positive outlook on what can be achieved. For some people, teenage years can be quite difficult to go through. I tell my mentees about the different perspective of other people and prepare them to have the skills to deal with other people’s opinions and encourage them to be focused.

What is your message or advice to young people of today?

I would suggest that they try as many new things as they can whilst they are young. This helps to build up experience, meet different people and get familiar with what they like and dislike. I would also advise not to become overburdened with things and take the time to learn what brings them inner peace, as I think it is an important part of getting to know oneself. Don’t be overly judgemental and learn how to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle.

As a Kingston University graduate, I can apply the skills that I’ve learned and I can also share the passion of what the core company is. I study philosophy in my spare time and enjoy staying fit.

Sophie enjoys her professional career as it falls in her line of interest and previous studies. She works for AEG Europe as an analyst in the live sports and music industry. Her company offers a Giving Back Day to employees for volunteering.

GT Scholars is a social enterprise that provides tutoring, mentoring and enrichment to young people from a range of backgrounds. To find out more about our volunteering opportunities, please get in touch with us.

Meet one of our volunteer English tutors – Roberta Wiafe

Meet one of our volunteer English tutors – Roberta Wiafe

Private tutors Volunteer interviews Volunteers Young people

Every now and then we interview one of our remarkable GT Scholars volunteers to find out who the person behind the volunteer is. Without our dedicated volunteers, our mission would not have been able to make the impact that it has.  We had a chat with one of our tutors about volunteering, who she is and her message to young people of today is. Here is what she had to say:

  1. How did you first get involved in volunteering with GT Scholars?
    I first learned of GT Scholars on the Team London website when I was looking for an opportunity to offer my time volunteering. Since I really enjoyed English as a subject at school and liked plays I thought that being a Volunteer Online Tutor would be the best fit for me. Upon visiting the GT Scholars website and reading more about their cause, I decided that I really wanted to be part of their mission.
  2. Why are you supporting GT Scholars as opposed to other groups working to improve social mobility?
    The reason why I like being part of the GT Scholars volunteer team is that I enjoy being able to work with a wide demographic range of students in terms of their abilities and backgrounds.
  3. What might surprise your friends/family other volunteers to know about you?
    I think most my friends and family would be surprised if they knew that I am a theatre critic in my spare time.
  4. How has volunteering changed you as a person and what have you learned from your time volunteering?
    I think during my time volunteering I have learned how to utilise different methods of explaining concepts to people. When approaching a new topic it’s often the case that I and my student have to go over subject matter a number of times to reinforce the ideas. To ensure that the ideas really stay with him and that he understands the concepts from a range of difficult angles, I have to really think about different ways of presenting the information. This has helped me to think more innovatively and to really listen to my student so that I can tailor my approach in a way that’s most helpful to him. And these are both skills that I can apply to my everyday life.
  5. Is there anyone in particular you could tell me about who has influenced your decision to start volunteering in general?
    When I was a student, about 16 years old,  I was involved with the Social Mobility Foundation. At the time they ran a program which made it possible for me to be matched with a mentor and I also received an opportunity to take up an internship at parliament.  Because I’ve had the privilege of support and guidance as a young person, I feel that I want to ‘’pay it forward’’ and give that same opportunity back to someone else.

Roberta is truly inspiring and serves for interesting conversation. When asked what her message to young people of today is, she said: ‘’ Work hard and do your best. If you do those things you will get where you want to be. Take time to celebrate, when you achieve something, celebrate your success. Lastly always be proud of yourself and enjoy the journey.’’ That is definitely words of wisdom to live by! Roberta holds an MSc in International Public Policy from the University College London and a BA Hons degree in History and Politics from the University of Sussex.

GT Scholars is a social enterprise that provides tutoring, mentoring and enrichment to young people from a range of backgrounds. To find out more about our volunteering opportunities, please get in touch with us.