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

Scholar spotlight What's new? Young people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An interview with one of our scholars Priscilla

An interview with one of our scholars Priscilla

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to design your Career Pathway: 7 Tips to help you get started

How to design your Career Pathway: 7 Tips to help you get started

Careers What's new? Young people

Designing a career pathway means planning a path for your career. Regardless of the career, you have chosen, you will need to think about how you’re going to get there. This applies to all careers from Law to IT and from Sciences to the Arts.

QUOTE: If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else. – Yogi Berra.

This means doing your research, thinking ahead, and planning a course of action for how you will arrive at your desired career. It involves determining the education and training that you will need to enter your chosen career and also thinking about the additional things that you can do to set yourself up for success within that career.

When you design your career pathway, you will most likely need to think about the skills required to enter the career, the subjects that you’ll need to take at GCSE and the A-level or Post-16 courses, as well as the best university that you can attend or apprenticeship that you join that will support you within this career.

In this section, we’ll go into more detail with the things you should put into consideration when designing your career pathway.

1. Find out the skills & qualities needed
It’s important that you do your research and have a good understanding of your chosen career before embarking on this and designing your career pathway. Choosing a career, especially as a teenager, can feel quite daunting but it doesn’t have to be so hard. To get started with designing your career pathway, you’ll need to do some further research on the skills and qualities required to succeed in this career. You can find out the key skills and qualities by doing desk research online, looking at job descriptions, and asking people that work within this field. Knowing the top 5-10 skills needed in this career, will help you stay focused and it will help you to continue developing those skills in your day to day life. Once you know these skills, you can start thinking about how you’ll develop these skills – this might be through extra-curricular activities, through your hobbies, through starting an online blog or even starting a small business. You will find that there are lots of creative ways to build these skills, no matter what these skills are.

2. Learn about the field, industry & employers
Now that you know the skills required, you’ll need to find out more about the industry or sector that you’ll be working in. This will give you an awareness of any opportunities or challenges within the industry, including an idea of the employment prospects for the future. You’ll also get an idea of the possible employers that you can work with and expected salary. Researching the industry, will help you widen your knowledge of this career and you may even stumble upon opportunities that you hadn’t realised existed. The more research you do, the more you’ll discover a wide range of employers and employment opportunities that will become useful when you’re ready to apply for jobs and look for work experience.

3. Search for work experience or work shadowing opportunities
Work shadowing is a great way for you to get a taste for a particular role you’ve been considering. It allows you to find out the day-to-day business of a specific job by ‘shadowing’ a person who is actively doing the job. Having work experience on your CV, shows that you’ve taken the initiative to learn more about the career. To find relevant work experience, you can ask your network, you can ask /search on social media or you can contact companies directly for openings for relevant opportunities.

4. Think about how you can continually build your network
Opportunities including work experience and skill building opportunities, can often be found through building your network with different people. At all levels of networking, some of these people are or will become genuine friends and this is one of the great advantages of networking. The aim of networking is to build connections with people around you. There are three key levels of networks that you need to think about.

a. Personal networks: These are the people that you normally connect within your day to day life but are outside of your school/work. This includes your family and friends but can also be extended to people in the same after-school activities as you, people from your fitness class, religious service or the charity you volunteer for.  It may be a tennis club, air cadets, dance group job, or a camp you attend during the summer holidays.

b. Professional network: These are the people in your immediate environment that you work or study with. At school, this would be your classmates and teachers. At work, this will be your colleagues and bosses. They may not be your friends and you may not have much in common with them but you can make a genuine connection and they may be able to support you in your career – right now or in the future.

c. Strategic network: These are people that are outside of your immediate environment and you have purposefully connected with them through a specific type of member’s club, institution, or an association for people that have the same career interests as you. They may be ahead of you in your career or they may be on the same level or they may be at an earlier stage. If they are at a more advanced stage, they may be able to provide you with mentorship and support for your career, they can also recommend you for jobs or new opportunities within your field. Over time, you will also be in a position where you can support others within this group. This is strategic networking.
The most important thing with networking is recognising that you are not an island. Don’t be afraid to speak to people about your passions, interests, and your planned career path.

5. Learn about the qualifications, courses and subjects needed for this career
Designing a career pathway will mean looking into which courses and subjects you need for this career. Most careers have a standard minimum expectation when it comes to qualifications. So there will be many questions to ask such as: Do you require a degree for this career? If you don’t require a degree, what are the steps that are usually needed to enter this career? Are there apprenticeships or fast-track programmes for this career? Are there any specific learning schools or courses e.g. in London for Performing arts (Brit School), Fashion (London College of Fashion)? Are there special exams you must take and professional courses or certificates needed to work in this career? Where are the best places to study if you choose this career? Are you required to complete special training or courses? Are there any particular scholarships that you can apply for or international work opportunities for this career?

6. Join some associations or membership groups for this career
As part of your strategic networking, it’s important that you network beyond your immediate group and this is where memberships and associations come in useful. Most careers will usually have at least one membership group or organisations connected to it. You can sign up to their newsletter, join their mailing list, follow their social media handles, join their Facebook or LinkedIn group, receive monthly publications, and attend networking events. Many membership groups will provide cheap or free membership to students as they are keen to see young people enter and succeed in their industry. By signing up to be a member, you’ll stay aware of the opportunities in this industry including work opportunities, scholarships, sponsorships, and awards that you can apply for. This is another thing that you can add to your CV especially if you choose to take an active role within the association.

7. Keep a record of your progress
It is worth documenting your hobbies and activities so that you can remember what you have learned or achieved over the years. This can be via an online blog or offline journal that can evidence as a portfolio of your talents and interests. In some careers such as Art or Architecture, it is expected that you keep a portfolio of your achievements so far. Even if you are not in these fields, you can keep a record of your certificates and recommendations. This will help you with writing your CV, personal statement or cover letter. It will also help you stay positive and remind you of all that you have achieved so far. Remember that there is more to life than your career – this is just one part of your life. However, it will be a big part of your life and it is important that you are able to feel proud of yourself and proud of what you’ve achieved so far, no matter what stage you are.

The career pathway that you design for yourself will keep changing over time – and it won’t be set in stone. This is because over time, as you grow more confident in your abilities and you learn more about this career, you’ll be able to refine your ideas and you’ll discover new things about your industry or field. You may even start to specialise and find a ‘niche’ that you enjoy and can be successful in.

Most people will change careers at least once in their life, so it’s important that you find something that you can enjoy but also design a pathway that gives you some flexibility to explore other careers if you choose to make a change in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting started with Revision

Getting started with Revision

Exams & Revision What's new? Young people

Many young people leave revision to the last minute because they don’t know how to do it and they have a general fear of the unknown. So the best way to get over those fears is to find some techniques that work for you.

Everyone has their own unique revision style and overtime you’ll discover the best techniques that work for you. However, if you want to improve your grades and excel in exams, there are some essential things that you must do. We’ve listed this below.

1. Set some goals
What are your predicted grades? What are the grades that you’d like to achieve in your exams? How much would it mean for you to achieve those grades? What difference would it make in your life? Think about the end goal. The exam period will be over soon and if you can hold on and work hard, you will be glad later on. Summer and other school holidays will be even better if you know that you worked hard for your exams. Why do you want to get good grades? To go to sixth form, university, get an apprenticeship, be a more well-rounded and educated person? Thinking about this can give you some perspective and help you to see why you are putting the effort in. How will you feel if you achieve those ideal grades? How would you feel if you didn’t get those grades? It’s important that you know why it is that you are revising, and why it matters to you. Once you know this, you can get started with your revision.

2. Just get started
So you’ve set some goals for yourself, now it’s time to just get started. You may initially feel overwhelmed by the thought of having so much work to do. You may even feel that you don’t have a lot of time until your exams. However, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in one month, one week, or one day – if you just get started! It’s easy to procrastinate and ‘wish’ that you’d started ages ago but the reality is that you can’t go back in time. The only thing you can do is get moving and get started.

3. Get an overview of where you’re going
If you don’t know where you are going, every road will lead you nowhere. The same applies to revision. You must have an overview of all the topics included in the exam. This is sometimes called the ‘exam syllabus’. Sometimes this can be very detailed, so you really just need a summary. Your teacher may be able to give this to you. Alternatively, you can use an exam board textbook and look at the content page. This page will usually summarise all the topics that are included in the exam. You can then break this up and use this to plan the topics that you’d like to revise in preparation for the exam.

4. Make notes using content from textbooks & different resources
Your revision should always involve making notes. Ideally, you should have one study or revision notebook for each subject. You can use bullet points when making notes and use different coloured highlighters to make various parts of your notes stand out. Your notes should be a summary of what you’ve learned from textbooks, revision books, in videos, revision websites, past papers, and what you’ve learned from school. You may be able to buy textbooks and revision books that are specific to your exam board. Have a look online and ask your teacher if you’re not sure which one to buy. Be careful of googling questions and making notes using various websites – not all the information online is correct. Make sure you get information from a trusted source.

5. Stay motivated & Stay focused
Revising doesn’t come naturally to everyone and you’ll need to figure out a way to stay motivated and stay focused. One way to do this, is to think about ways you can reward yourself. So – What’s on your wishlist? What is a big enough reward that will motivate you to get started? How you reward yourself is up to you. It’s best that you think of a big reward that will motivate you to achieve your personal target grade. You can also ask your parents/carers if they can give you a reward or if they will be willing to ‘chip’ in and get that reward for you. You can also think of smaller rewards that can help you stay focused eg. I’ll only watch that movie this weekend if I’m able to revise for 4 hours this week.

6. Create a revision timetable
We have a template that you can use to create a revision timetable. It is similar to a study timetable. The only difference is that you’ll need to take your exams into consideration when you design it and it will need to be updated regularly. You should also aim to have a balance of different subjects based on the upcoming exams. During exam season, you will probably need to update your schedule each week as you will have a new set of exams to focus on. If you’re struggling with creating a revision timetable then ask for help from a parent/carer, teacher, mentor, or tutor.

7. Self-care
Ensure you have eaten well before you revise or prepare some healthy snacks to eat during revision. If you are hungry, it will be hard to concentrate and your revision session will not be as efficient. Also, make sure that you get enough sleep. Your revision will be more effective if your mind is well rested. It is better to spend one hour concentrating hard and making good progress with your revision, than spend three hours struggling to take in any information because you are tired.

8. Remove the distractions
Remove things that you know will distract you. Give your phone/tablet/tv remote control to someone at home and ask them not to give it back until you have finished! Alternatively, you can put it in another room so it will take a lot of effort to go and get it. Try to find a quiet space at home where you can be alone and shut the door. If this is not possible, try earphones/headphones with relaxing music on low volume. Tell your family that you are revising and ask that they do not disturb you. It’s important that you stay focused when you’re revising. When you’re not focused, you end up wasting a lot of time.

9. Take regular breaks
It’s important that you take regular breaks when you’re studying or revising. You may have heard of the Pomodoro technique which is meant to be highly effective. The aim is that you work in 25 minute chunks with 5 minute breaks (pomodoros) and after every 4 pomodoros, you take an additional longer 20 minute break. Another way to take breaks a break every hour ie. set an alarm for every hour or every half hour. Another way to ensure that you have regular breaks, is to plan your next break as a mini-reward ie. when I finish reading this chapter, then I’ll give myself a 15 minute break. Whichever way you choose to do it, it’s important that you take regular breaks.

10. Use Past papers
This is one of the most important things that you can use to aid your revision. You don’t need to learn everything before you look at the past question papers. When you look at past question papers and accompanying mark schemes, you can see the common questions that come up and the keywords that you must include in your answers in order to get full marks. You can even use past question papers as a key feature of your exam revision ie. start your revision by looking at recent past question papers and start making notes based on what you see. If you use this method, you’ll know the frequently asked questions for the exam and you’ll know exactly which topics to spend the most time on.

11. Test your knowledge
When little children are taught how to spell, they are told to ‘Look, Cover, Spell then Check’. This is exactly what you should be doing when you’re revising. You can spend a considerable time reading and making notes but at some point, you will need to test your knowledge. The best way to do this is by using mini-quizzes and end of chapter tests. You don’t always need to use past question papers to test yourself. The best way to test yourself is to do it in small chunks while revising a new topic and at the end of revising for a topic. This way you’ll be very clear on your strengths and weaknesses within that topic and you’ll know the areas that you need to revisit or revise again.

12. Getting rid of anxiety
Preparing for your exams using thorough revision techniques will help you feel confident during your exam week/s. If you think you have left it too late, do not worry. You can still do something about it. Make the most of the time you have and focus on the most important topics. Make sure you get enough sleep before your exam. On the night before your exam, do not panic and stay up all night revising – This will have a negative impact on your memory recall which could impact your exam grade! Instead, run through some notes but keep it concise. Relax and go to bed at your normal time. If you feel panic setting in, talk to someone about your concerns. Some nerves are normal but you must remember that it’s just an exam. All you can do is your best and the only way to do your best is if you are well rested.

13. Think about how you learn best
There are lots of different ways to take in information and everyone has a learning style that helps them learn in the best way. Are you more visual or do you prefer listening? What’s your favourite way of memorising information? Do you prefer maps, diagrams, sketches, flash cards, notebooks or folders with dividers? Are you better at revising on your own or do you prefer doing shared revision sessions and teaching a friend what you have learned? As you build confidence with revising, you’ll discover revision methods that work best for you.

As you spend more time revising, you’ll build confidence in your revision techniques and you’ll come up with new and improved ways of revising. Keep looking for ways to challenge yourself and make your revision more effective. Over time you’ll find better ways of making notes, staying organised and memorising topics. As you build more experience with revising, you’ll find it easier to pay attention in class and you’ll feel more confident asking questions in class.

You’ll also become better at managing your time, you’ll set higher goals for yourself and you may even begin to start looking forward to any upcoming exams!

13 Tips to help you get started with Studying & Reduce Exam Anxiety

13 Tips to help you get started with Studying & Reduce Exam Anxiety

Exams & Revision What's new? Young people

What do we mean by Study Skills?
The dictionary defines ‘Study’ as:

  • The devotion of time and attention to gaining knowledge of an academic subject
  • A detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation

The best way to think of studying, is a time that you dedicate beyond the classroom, to understand even more about a subject.

What’s the difference between studying and revision?
Everyone has a different experience of studying and revision – your experience will usually depend on the information given by your school. Some schools have a huge focus on building your study skills and other schools will only focus on revision.

The key difference between studying and revision is that studying is something that you can do throughout the year and throughout your school life. You can do it at any point in time. Revision is what you usually do in the last few weeks or months building up to an exam or a test.

To Revise means to ‘Revisit’ so, in theory, you can’t revisit some information if you didn’t study it in the first place. Many young people feel anxious about exams and revision because revision feels daunting. They never had a chance to study the information so revision means they are ‘studying’ the information for the first time.

In this blog, we’ll explain some of the key things that you should consider when setting up a study routine.

1. Have a clear goal in mind
It’s important that you start with an end goal in mind. What are the grades that you’d like to achieve? Which subjects are you struggling with? Which subjects do you find easier? How much time can you realistically dedicate to studying? What are your predicted grades at school? What are the grades that you would like to achieve ie. your personal target grades? You may decide that there are only a few subjects that you want to study each week because you don’t have time to study every single subject.

2. Small chunks make a huge difference
You don’t have to study for long periods of time every day. Similar to revision, it’s important to take breaks when you’re studying. This means studying in 20-50 minute chunks followed by 10-15 minute breaks. You may decide that you want to study for 1 hour a day or just 30 minutes per day. You may don’t have to study for a huge period of time and you may be selective about what you study eg. you may choose to only study the things that you found difficult in that week. This means that you use your study sessions to ‘troubleshoot’ and get a better understanding of those areas that you struggled with at school that day or that week.

3. Set up a study timetable
Where possible you should dedicate a couple of hours each day to studying and a study timetable can help you achieve this. The aim of a study timetable is to remind you about the best times to study and to give you an idea of the subject/s to study each day. It removes decision fatigue because it means you don’t waste half an hour deciding on what to study and you just jump straight in and start studying a subject based on what you have written in your study timetable. When creating your study timetable it’s important to consider the best time of day to study. Do you want to study during the week? And weekends? Mornings? After-school? In the late evening? Do you want to have some days off?

4. Some things are more urgent than studying
In an ideal world, it would be great if you could follow your study timetable and make time to study every single day. However, this might not be realistic due to various more urgent tasks that need to be completed eg. completing your coursework, pieces of homework or revising for a test. Be realistic and be aware that some days you will need to focus on what is ‘urgent’ and you won’t be able to study. It’s urgent that you revise for upcoming exams so you get a decent grade and it’s urgent that you complete your homework so that you can submit it on time. On days like this, studying will just have to wait.

5. Paying attention in class
It’s much more effective to pay attention in class than to spend time studying and re-learning at home. The point of studying is to gain a better understanding of something that you’ve already been introduced to. If you pay attention in class, you’ll find that you don’t have a huge amount of studying at home. This is because you are already making sense of things in class and you have fewer questions.

6. Make clear & concise notes
Research shows that you are more likely to remember things when we have made hand-written notes about it. It’s important that you make clear and concise notes in dedicated notebooks that you can use purely for study and revision. One notebook or folder for each subject is highly recommended. However, the contents for each notebook will probably look quite different. You may make notes using mind maps, diagrams, or summary posters in one subject, highlighted notes in another subject, index cards for another subject. In maths, you may simply practise questions under that topic and have a notebook with all the formulas, definitions, and examples. You don’t have to use the same ‘study style’ for every single subject. You can choose what works best for you.

7. Textbooks & Past papers
Before you make notes, you need to decide on the resources that you’ll be using for learning. Most exam boards create a specific textbook to help their students prepare for the upcoming exams. They also make sure that the past question papers are readily available to students that want to prepare for the exams. It is highly recommended that you use these textbooks and past papers to help you with the exam preparation.

8. Make the most of different resources
In addition to textbooks and past question papers, you can use a wide range of resources to help you with studying. In science, you may prefer to use a combination of textbooks and youtube videos. You may have a specific language website or audio guidebook that you use for languages. In Maths, you may have a website that provides past question papers based on each topic. In History or Geography, you may prefer to watch summarised video clips and make notes while you watch it. The most important thing is that you decide the learning format that is most effective and efficient for you – no time wasting! For our favourite pick of over 250 free learning websites, visit www.thelearningdirectory.com.

9. Create a topic list
Most people study the topic that was most recently covered in class. Some people study topics based on the contents page for their textbook or the syllabus list for the upcoming exams. You may decide to shorten the list by only studying the topics that you’ve found really difficult. It’s important that you have a summary list of the topics that you will be covering in your study time, as well as topics that you want to study in more detail in the future. You can check these off as you go. The list serves two purposes. Firstly, it gives you a sense of accomplishment, so you know how far you have come. Secondly, it gives a sense of direction so you know which topics you still need to cover in the future.

10. Create an environment that works for studying
Do you like to study with music on or are you more effective working in silence? If you listen to music, what kind of music? What are the potential distractions that you might have when studying or revising? How can you reduce those distractions? Do you prefer to study or revise in a local library or do you prefer working at home? Do you prefer to study with friends or on your own? Can you work in your room or do you need to be somewhere else in your home? Do you need to turn off your phone, does it need to be on silent or do you just give it to a parent because you know that it’s too distracting? Everyone is different and everyone has their preferred way of studying. You must take the time to understand what works best for you and keep making changes whenever you realise that it’s not working.

11. Ask for help if you get stuck
If you’re stuck, and you’re struggling with a topic, then there are a few things you can do: You can take a short break or try a new technique and if that’s not working, then you must ask for help. One of the key benefits of studying is that it gives you a sense of ownership of your learning. You can choose what you want to study, when you want to study and how you want to study. This independent way of learning has many advantages but one of the disadvantages is that you may forget to ask for help. If you find that you’re struggling with a topic then make sure you ask for help. This can be from a parent /carer, a teacher, or a tutor. You don’t have to do it all on your own.

12. Be mindful of when to switch to revision mode
Studying gives you the luxury of digging deep into topics and sometimes even exploring new topics and discovering new things that will not be coming up in the exam. Once you build momentum with studying, you might actually start to enjoy it! However, it is different from revision and as you approach your exams, you will need to switch gears and move into revision mode. Revision does not give you the luxury of exploring new topics and discovering new things. When you’re revising, you cannot afford to waste any time. When you’re revising, you’ll need to focus on the exam at hand. You must focus on the topics within the exam, make sure you test yourself and assess your knowledge and make sure that you address any knowledge gaps in a way that helps you feel prepared for the exams.

13. Assess your knowledge: How do you know if you are studying in the right way? How will you know if the time that you’re putting into studying is worth it? The only way you can know is to test yourself ie. assess your knowledge. This is a key part of studying. You can make notes all day but it’s pointless if you can’t remember or apply what you’ve learned. So how can you test yourself? Most textbooks will have an end-of-chapter quiz section and many websites will have a questionnaire or exam-style questions that you can use to test your knowledge. Make sure that the quiz has accompanying answers so you know if you’re getting it right. One of the main advantages of quizzing yourself during your study time, is that you don’t have the pressure of trying to get everything 100% correct. The most important thing is that you make a note of the quiz questions that you struggled with and study this again. If you’re still struggling, then make sure you ask for help from a teacher or a tutor. Assessing your knowledge regularly will help you build more confidence, it will help you become more secure in your knowledge, and it will ultimately make revision for exams much easier.

So What is the Key advantage of studying throughout the year?
When you choose to Study a new topic, you are deciding to gain a full understanding of that topic. It makes exam revision much easier because you’ll have a better understanding when you’re revising and re-visiting a topic. If you study all through the year, revision will be much easier and you’ll probably find that it has a hugely positive impact on your exam grades.

Spotlight on one of our young scholars – Ladan

Spotlight on one of our young scholars – Ladan

Scholar spotlight What's new? Young people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scholar spotlight What's new? Young people

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you catch us in The Guardian?

Did you catch us in The Guardian?

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

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

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

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

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


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

Seven character traits of a successful student

Seven character traits of a successful student

Growth mindset Post 16 Volunteer mentors What's new? Young Leaders Young people

No one student is alike, some students get good grades and others don’t. Perhaps some students operate with more integrity than others or perhaps some are greater leaders than others. It could be that some children are more passionate and proud and want to make a difference in the world. We are all individuals with different strengths.

Caretakers and teachers are often seen as role models by young people. With no support structure in place to help young people achieve their instinctive goals, their dreams are lost and become embers of a distant fire. But, what if we gave them enough support and stimulated them in the right direction? What if we gave them the skills and the know-how to be able to achieve their ambitions? Amongst most young people are leaders, influencers and change-makers. Successful young people are usually hardworking and ambitious and most of all they want to excel further in life.

Certain qualities can make it easier for young people to learn and grow within their own potential. Investing time and effort in young people can help them realise their qualities and build their confidence, an important factor in determining their future career path.

We have listed seven influential characteristics of a successful student which could help them benefit from the many advantages of private tutoring.

Determination
A mentor or tutor can help you prepare for exams, consider potential future choices and how to deal with the unexpected. They help you develop life skills like determination, self confidence and mindfulness. They will also help you to have the strength to be able to swim upstream and dig your heels into whatever it is that is laid in front of you and help you identify potential procrastination habits and how to avoid them.

Self – Leadership
Looking within yourself is probably one of the most difficult things any human being can do. Before being able to become a leader in the real world you must be able to lead yourself. You need to have enough confidence to pull yourself into gear and get going on the tasks set before you.  You are the one that will decide on how you will handle and behave in certain situations and your attitude towards it. How you will deal with your successes and losses. Seeing the bigger picture of where you are headed in life and working towards your goals on a daily basis can help you lead your way through life. To stand with both two feet on the ground, knowing who you are at all times is vital in a world with so much competition.

Active participant
Be curious and ask questions if you do not understand a concept. It could result in approaching the topic from a different angle or answering a question everyone was wondering about but not prepared to ask. Your teacher and peers might be appreciative of that! Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question and there is no such thing as asking too many questions in class! A distant alarm bell goes off in our minds as we somehow remember these statements. The main point of being an active participant is to really listen and pay attention.

Self -Motivation
Being and staying motivated is one of the most difficult traits to maintain. As a student gets older, there will no longer be instruction and guidance from a teacher or tutor watching over them giving them homework deadlines. Students will need to set their own time-specific goals. Putting focus into moving forward towards goals on a daily basis shows internal motivation. This goes hand in hand with being a successful student, not only during student life but also in the future. Making a conscious decision to switch off from all distractions and focus on the main subject during lectures and tutoring times is vital. If you do not have good listening skills you will not be able to participate and communicate effectively with peers during tutoring and socializing.

Resilience
‘I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never gonna keep me down.’ Remember this song? Sure you do. With so much going on in an ever-changing and influential world of young people, it is common that one’s self-confidence can take a knock at times. Many youngsters also experience personal challenges on the home front and this more often than not has an effect on their schooling and social development.

Self – Belief
So many characteristics begin with Self. It is important that young people are stimulated and guided towards finding their inner self and believing that they are capable of anything they put their mind to. If you want it, you can get it. As long as you stay focused and determined and maintain a growth mindset, you will always reach certain goals that you have yet to achieve.

Time Management
Whilst growing up and progressing through your school career, you will start managing your own time and setting deadlines to complete goals. This allows you to start taking responsibility for your own progress in life as you realise once again that only you can make a difference in this world and in your own world. Managing your own time is an important management skill you will need to learn for the career place. Being timeous with your school activities and tasks teaches you a sense of responsibility, a great trait you will need to possess in your future career.

Meeting with a mentor or tutor on a regular basis can help to build confidence and determination to reach your goals and aspirations. Tutors and Mentors who have real-life experiences can guide young children in the right direction when they are faced with difficult choices or situations. Character building is the basic foundation and building blocks of life.

The GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise that tackles educational inequality and improves social mobility. We run an after-school tutoring programme that aims to help young people between the ages of 11-16.  Our programme also includes mentoring and enrichment activities with the aim to help young people prepare for their exams, improve their grades and gain access to the most selective universities and competitive careers. To stay up to date and find out more about our courses and workshops, subscribe to our newsletter.

 

7 Ways to Use Technology for Good

7 Ways to Use Technology for Good

Growth mindset Post 16 What's new? Young people

Parenting can be challenging at times as it is, but parenting in the 21st century certainly brings on board a whole lot of different concerns. Especially when it comes to monitoring children’s exposure to technology. What is the daily limit of allowing your child to watch TV or play computer games?  What precautions can parents take to ensure children’s safety online? At what age are they allowed a smartphone?

Living in the information age where knowledge is freely available at the click of a button, means that children are learning at a much faster pace than before. Years of information and research are now contained within pages of compressed knowledge which has been simplified. There are also images and videos available to easily illustrate complexed concepts allowing children to take in information and knowledge without a long-term commitment.

A study conducted by Info Central in 2016 concluded that the average age for children to own an electronic device with access to the internet is 10, with over 64% of children favouring the tablet as a form of entertainment during car rides or while at home.

Children are very much aware of the World Wide Web and they want in. Trying to deny children access to the internet and technology may not be the best approach and you may end up doing the opposite of what you’ve hoped to achieve.  Parents need to strive towards guiding their children so that they are confident in using the internet and most importantly, be able to identify potential online danger.

The advance in technology is neither a good or bad thing. It is innovative and it simplifies a lot of once complex processes. It is neither helpful nor detrimental in itself, the latter is dependent on how you use it. Technology has revolutionised every sector and industry ranging from the corporate workplace, beauty, art as well as education.

Parents can utilise educational technology to empower their children and contribute to their growth and knowledge. Children should be taught how to use the internet and guiding them through this is the first step to empowering them with the right knowledge.

Here are seven ways to use technology for good:

E-Classrooms
The internet is home to various platforms where children can get the extra help that they need.  From online exercises and courses to online tutoring. E-classrooms often provide a supportive environment for learners and reward systems that encourage a learner’s strengths. Some courses are designed for particular grades and levels of knowledge and may be accompanied by virtual assistants who guide children through exercises and others encourage parent participation which can be a great way to spend quality time together.

Free Podcasts and Videos
Free podcasts and videos are more accessible as most platforms do not require the creation of an account before the information becomes available to the end user. The information obtained from free podcasts and videos may be a little less reliable than official e-classrooms that use curriculum materials pertaining to the country. Be that as it may, platforms like Youtube and scholarly articles shared online still remains a good source of information for young people to learn and improve their knowledge. Since the content of free podcasts and videos have not been certified and approved by scholarly boards, further research on topics might be needed to avoid being misinformed.

Mentoring Websites
One of the biggest advantages of the internet is that it connects people. Mentoring websites connects experienced people who are willing to shed light on industries with parents and their children looking for first-hand information. This can be extremely helpful when children start to consider different career options.  A mentoring website can provide children with answers pertaining to their prospective careers and what they will need to increase their chances of success.

Self Care Websites
The downside of free-flowing information is that it is not censored. Children can sometimes come across content that can negatively affect their confidence and perception of self.  It’s important that children think of the internet as a resource to build good self-confidence and a healthy self-image. There are several websites that offer health tips as well as emotional and psychological care guidelines. Positive affirmation is particularly strong and when coupled with love, support and guidance children receive from home,  these websites can help them distinguish between positive and empowering information and also help them identify and prepare them to deal with negative content.

Technology as an outlet for creativity
Another great way technology can enrich children’s lives is by providing an outlet for the creative and talented. There are great apps available, from online videos to singing apps likes Musical.ly.  Another great app is Soundcloud which allows the user to share audio files, and let’s not forget to mention Apple’s GarageBand! These are all healthy ways for children to stay focused on school and be expressive at the same time.

Calendars
It is beneficial for children to learn how to manage their time appropriately and how to organise their day. Over time they will be able to balance school and their social lives independently. Calendars are now integrated into electronic devices like phones and tablets. Google Calendar allows users to synchronise calendars between family members, friends and even schools. This is a great way for parents to keep a watchful eye on their children’s schedule without seeming too overwhelming and allow children to learn how to manage and organise their time.

Educational Chat Rooms
Apps like Whatsapp are a favourite among preteens and adolescents. Instead of just being used for passing time, they can also be used to network and discuss ideas and help clarify questions for group assignments. This free app is a useful tool because it can be used by children from all financial backgrounds. Parents can create these chat groups for their children within the app and children can exchange images, audio and links to information over the app.

GT Scholars is a non-profit organisation that focuses on social mobility and growth mindset. They also run an afterschool tutoring programme that includes online tutoring, mentoring as well as skill building and enrichment activities for young people aged 11-16. For more information on how to join the GT Scholars programme please feel free send an email to contactus@gtscholars.org