Why Entrepreneurship Needs To Be Included In The Curriculum

Why Entrepreneurship Needs To Be Included In The Curriculum

What's new?

There are so many entrepreneurs in the world that offer a wealth of inspiration to young people. From Richard Branson to Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey, the success stories of entrepreneurs can be inspiring and motivating, which can help young people to achieve their goals.

Beyond inspiration, learning about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship offers valuable skill-building opportunities and life lessons. Here are just a few of the many reasons why entrepreneurship should be included in the curriculum.

Confidence
Taking a business idea and turning it into a profitable enterprise takes far more than just hard work. Entrepreneurs have to believe in their idea so that they can convince others that it will work and also keep themselves motivated. If an entrepreneur does not believe in their own idea, no one else will either. This self-belief takes a whole lot of confidence and self-motivation. Entrepreneurship can instil confidence in young people, teaching them how to be self-reliant, resilient and motivated. Confidence will also prepare them for any challenges they may face and also keep them going when things change such as moving from school to university.

Passion
Paired with confidence, passion is one of the most important traits an entrepreneur must possess. A business leader’s passion can convince top employees to join a company or convince investors to invest in their business. Passion is also important when convincing clients to try a product or service. Entrepreneurship offers a dynamic and interactive way to engage students, cultivate their interests, and open potential academic or career paths that they might not have known about or considered before. Lessons in entrepreneurship can expose them to a variety of topics, sparking their interest and helping them discover and develop their passions and future aspirations.

Resourcefulness
Entrepreneurs continually seek ways to improve their products, services, and businesses, even in the face of significant challenges such as budget constraints, time crunches, and small teams. In these situations, they have to use their resourcefulness and quick thinking to ensure success. Entrepreneurship can be used as a tool to teach young people how to use the resources they have at their disposal to make an idea or plan work. Lessons in entrepreneurship can also be individually tailored to help young people to use fewer resources, develop new resources or think out of the box to solve a business challenge. Resourcefulness will teach young people to think fast, come up with innovative solutions to problems, and to be resilient. 

Social Skills
From networking to nurturing relationships with customers or investors, entrepreneurs need social skills to help accelerate the development of their company. Social skills will help young people with their interpersonal relations, social interactions and leadership skills. This will always be valuable since interacting with people is something they will always encounter at university or in the workplace. Having good social skills also means that you will be a better leader which will help you to be more successful.

Teamwork
Entrepreneurship teaches young people about the value of collaboration and teamwork and how important it is to work with others to reach a specific goal. In every stage of life, from school to university to the workplace, young people will have to work with other people, so it is important for them to start building their teamwork skills as soon as possible. This will make them more effective in teams which can also make them stand out as leaders and thought leaders.  

Financial Education
Entrepreneurship is a useful tool that can be used to educate young people about important financial topics. These topics will give them the necessary skills to become successful adults. Some topics that can be taught through entrepreneurship include budgeting and saving, how to avoid or handle debt, and understanding taxes and insurance. This will equip young people with the skills and knowledge that will need to deal with various things in their daily life – from student loans to life insurance. 

As you can see, including entrepreneurship in the school curriculum offers an impactful way to teach young people many important skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. 

Entrepreneurship activities can also be found in after-school programmes such as the GT Scholars Dragon’s Den Challenge. This annual workshop takes place during Global Entrepreneurship Week and is based on the world-famous TV show. This gives young people a taste of what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and it involves them coming up with a business idea in a specific amount of time and pitching it to a judging panel. This will provide them with hands-on experience in entrepreneurship while teaching them simple business principles, teamwork, presentation skills, and effective time management.

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.

What Education Should Look Like In The 21st Century

What Education Should Look Like In The 21st Century

What's new?

Education is a constantly changing system that needs to adjust to the way current generations think while also embracing new information and new technologies. Gone are the days of text-heavy textbooks and outdated subjects, education is already moving forward to embrace and develop new methods to help young people learn effectively.

With this being said, there are still many ways that the education system can still improve and innovate. Here is what education should look like in the 21st century.

Embracing Edtech
Technology has taken over every aspect of our daily lives, which has made young people more reliant on technology. This means that if education embraced technology, it would make young people more susceptible to learning.

There are many innovative ways that education and technology have combined to produce powerful edtech tools and learning methods. Edtech is able to stimulate and improve learning in the following ways:

  • Visualisation
    It’s easier to understand abstract concepts or topics when it’s visualised. Tech tools like apps, interactive diagrams, and 3D visuals make it easier for young people to grasp and memorise new topics. Colours and patterns also stimulate the brain and help young people to think creatively and critically.
  • Interactivity
    Using interactive tools allows young people to take charge of their learning and be more energised and motivated to learn. Using mobile games and apps makes learning fun, but still challenging. Other interactive tools can give students individual challenges, guide and support the learner when needed and allow learning by doing which promotes active learning.
  • Analytics
    Grading exams, papers, and presentations can take a lot of time and there’s always a risk of subjectivity due to human nature. Using technology allows automation to make grading and evaluation simple and fair. Analytical tools also help the learner to follow and reflect on their own learning progress through self-evaluation and peer-evaluation.
  • Portability
    Technology makes learning on the go far easier. The vast worldwide web offers thousands of online tools, resources and information that can be accessed on various mobile devices. This makes it easier for young people to complete homework and assignments, learn new skills, and keep track of their learning. Virtual classrooms and labs also offer remote learning possibilities and for young people to attend classes and complete tasks from the comfort of their own home.
  • Collaboration
    Online, cloud-based and social apps and tools offer various ways for young people to take part in creative and collaborative activities that can help them with assignments and projects. Online collaboration is also useful for teachers and parents to communicate with one another to effectively monitor a student’s learning and academic progress.
  • Accessibility
    Online apps and tools make learning easier for young people with learning difficulties or special needs. For example, young people with visual impairments can access information through audiobooks and podcasts or young people with special educational needs can be taught through the use of interactive and visual tools. 

Focusing on Careers
Choosing a career path is a very important step for pupils and school leavers. This will greatly impact the choices they make and their future, making this decision a very important one. Education needs to include a greater focus on helping young people choose the career path that is right for them and their goals. Many young people today end up changing career paths down the line, which can set them back on their course to achieve their goals. 

In a survey conducted by the London Business School, it was determined that 47% of the 1,000 individuals surveyed wanted to change their careers, with younger people aged 18-24 and 24-34 most likely to want a career change. According to this survey, one of the main reasons for them wanting a career change was job satisfaction. 

One of the best ways to counteract this is to help young people to ensure they find a career that they are passionate about through career guidance in schools, career counselling and strength testing. This can also be combined with building soft skills that will help them in the workplace, such as leadership, teamwork, presentation skills, interpersonal skills and digital skills. In addition, programmes that help young people to get into the university or career field of their choice should also be included in school so that everyone has access to these valuable resources.

Personal Development and Mindfulness
There has been a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing of young people in recent times. This is due to the greater awareness of mental health issues that can affect young people and due to improved scientific research in human behaviour and psychology. 

The effects of mental health issues can greatly hinder a young person’s progress in school and also in their personal development. Education should include a greater focus on holistic wellbeing to help young people counteract mental health issues and deal with negativity. This can include peer counselling, behaviour management and strategies to deal with cyberbullying. Moreover, young people can be taught how to deal with stress, social anxiety and other issues that may affect them in some way. There should also be a more significant integration of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in schools to ensure that these services and easily accessible to all young people.

To conclude, there needs to be a sustainable plan set in place across all stages of education, from early childhood to schools, to universities. This plan should include supporting young people with the challenges they face in their current stage while also preparing them for future stages. In addition, education should not be something that is only taken care of by schools – other stakeholders, including parents, organisations and companies, should also be more responsible for the education of young people to ensure that they feel supported every step of the way. 

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.

An interview with one of our volunteer online tutors – Arash Khosravi

An interview with one of our volunteer online tutors – Arash Khosravi

Volunteer interviews Volunteers What's new?

Tell me a little bit about you and what got you to where you are today?
I went through school and after that, I did Economics at A-level and then studied Economics full time at UCL. During my time at UCL, I was the president of the UCL branch of the charity Team Up. After graduation, I was offered a job at the Bank of England where I worked as a Data Analyst.

What made you decide to become a volunteer tutor?
I really feel like I want to give back to society and give back to people that are in a less fortunate position than I am, through no fault of their own, and help them achieve their full potential. I did some informal tutoring a few years ago and I got really good feedback. That made me think and I then decided to take my strengths and use them to help people that really need the support. Since volunteering at UCL, I was trying to find other opportunities to volunteer that could fit in with my work schedule. I find that tutoring is a really good option and that I can make a real difference in a young person’s life.

What did you enjoy most about tutoring your scholar?
What I enjoyed most was really seeing the development of my scholar throughout the 12 week term. I think the highlight for me was in week 4 when I logged into Skype for our session and my scholar said: ‘’Sir, sir you know the thing we’ve done with the area of the square? I tried it in class and my teacher said I got the question right!” She was really chuffed about it and that was great to hear. I think engaging with the scholar and building a good relationship is what I’ve enjoyed most. I was very lucky to be matched with someone who is really engaged and ready to learn.

What challenges have you helped your scholar to face?
What I found at the beginning of this term in my scholar was the fact that she was doubting herself. I think the challenge was to reinforce the knowledge she already had and building her confidence. In the beginning, I would ask a question and she would attempt to solve 60% of the question but wouldn’t have the confidence to work through the remaining 40%. She would then say she did not know how to do it. I focussed on building her confidence and to say to herself, I do know how to do it and I won’t give up. It’s really great to see how much her maths has developed and improved.

What goals have you helped your scholar to achieve?
I think a good example of one of our goals would be the mock test my scholar had coming up. A week before the mock test we did two tutoring sessions so I could help her prepare for the test. After the test, she came back and said that a lot of the work we revised did come up in the test and she really felt confident answering them. We also set up goals for some of the topics she felt a bit weaker in and although she was struggling with it earlier on in the term she was able to tackle them after a few week’s sessions.

Why do you think tutoring is valuable to young people?
Because I feel that students at school have a wide range of abilities and are at different levels. I don’t think that the modern skill system can factor that in with a class of 30 students, with different abilities and learning styles. Some young people need additional support and a lot of them don’t have the opportunity to get 1-to-1 support and can fall behind. I think tutoring can help fill that gap between school and home. Free tutoring is great to bridge the gap between young people who can afford private tutoring and those who cant.

Do you have a message for young people?
I would say they should keep working, keep trying and keep persevering with whatever they want to do in life. There’s no one path to get you where you want to go. Be who you are and don’t try to be anyone else. And with that mindset try things and really persevere. Like with the GT Scholar Programme, even if you don’t get it results initially, keep trying and pushing forward and towards where you want to go.

How important has support been in getting you to where you are today?
My dad is a maths lecturer, I could not get away from maths as a young person (laughs). Until about GCSE I was rubbish at maths, I used to get 40%. I think it was because I wanted to get away from maths because my dad will always be talking about it. At that age, I did not realise the importance of it. Until my dad sat me down and got me to engage and focus and made me realise the importance of it. In terms of other subjects, I did not have formal tutors but had support from my peers and family that helped me a lot.

What have you gained from volunteering with GT Scholars?
I feel like I gained a lot of confidence. I was a bit nervous before my first session because I see it as a real responsibility and duty to help a young person on their journey with mathematics. I really wanted to do a good job and make an impact on my scholar’s life. Having my scholar come back by the fourth session saying how she benefited from our sessions had really boosted my confidence. I think there are a lot of children out there that don’t see their own potential and it’s really opened my eyes to that. I have also gained a great relationship with my scholar and we even joke around during sessions sometimes.

Would you recommend becoming a tutor with GT Scholars?
Definitely. I think the whole process is really good and I gained a lot from the experience. For a tutor to be able to come in and really feel the positive impact made with a scholar and really seeing the journey you’re both going through during the 12 weeks is just amazing. The programme is really great for those scholars who are at average or just below, to give them that extra boost they need. Volunteering as a tutor is a nice way to start volunteering, whether it’s your first time or if you’re an experienced volunteer. I definitely recommend it in terms of it being a great way to volunteer and help young people.

What Parents Need To Know About State Boarding Schools In England

What Parents Need To Know About State Boarding Schools In England

What's new?

With state-of-the-art facilities, highly-qualified teachers and a wide range of extracurricular activities, boarding schools in England are among the most prestigious and sought-after in the world. In addition, young people who attended boarding schools frequently go on to study at top-ranked universities.

However, boarding schools can be really expensive. Fees vary widely from school to school, but the average boarding fees per term for pupils at boarding schools across the prep, senior and sixth-form age groups in 2016 was £10,317. This makes it really difficult for young people from low-income homes to access a boarding school education. 

But there is good news! In England, there are at least 38 state-funded boarding schools that offer the full boarding school experience at a fraction of the cost. Normally, these schools will offer tuition for free, and parents will just need to pay for boarding, which can be as little as £4,000 a term. This means that young people from various socio-economic backgrounds are able to attend a boarding school if they wish. Here are a few reasons why parents need to know about state boarding schools in England.

Stability
A boarding school offers your child a stable environment that is conducive to learning. Many young people who travel to and from school struggle with focusing at school, understanding difficult topics, and getting homework and assignments done. A boarding school works around such challenges by providing ongoing, often individual, support and attention that can ensure that your child feels completely supported in their learning. This makes it easier for them to reach their academic and attainment goals.

Path to university
The learning environment and highly-qualified staff at boarding schools make it easier for young people to reach their attainment goals so that they can get into university. However, it extends beyond their attainment as boarding schools also offer specialised university support for their students that will help them with the application process and securing their place in the university of their choice. As a result, boarding schools often have high numbers of pupils who go on to attend top universities across the country. 

Personal development
Boarding schools directly and indirectly promote the personal development of your child. A recent survey from The Association of British Boarding Schools revealed that 70% of students believe boarding school has helped them develop self-discipline, maturity, and independence, as well as valuable critical-thinking skills. Being away from home gives them the space to develop their independence and responsibility, which makes it easier for them to adjust when they leave school. They can also develop other valuable soft skills such as time management, leadership and self-confidence, which will help them in their future.

Social development
Living in away from home with like-minded, highly motivated individuals with similar goals and ambitions, young people will be able to form strong connections with classmates from different backgrounds all over the world and establish friendships that last long after they leave school. This is important for developing their interpersonal skills which makes them into well-rounded and self-confident individuals. Interpersonal skills are valuable in the workplace and in social settings and it makes them more personable, easygoing and it boosts their self-esteem. 

Extracurricular activities
Boarding schools in England offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and opportunities. With hundreds of clubs and activities, boarding schools offer much more compared to local schools, from various sporting disciplines to cultural pursuits like music and art. Being exposed to this diverse range of extracurricular options encourages students to try things they never would have before, helping them to develop their range of interests and grow into more well-rounded individuals. This diversifies their experience and skills, which makes their CV stand out when applying to university or for a job.

As you can see, boarding schools offer a wealth of benefits for young people and with state boarding schools, many more young people are able to access these benefits. There are also a variety of options for different age groups and either mixed or single-gender schools. So if you would like your child to attend a boarding school, find out more about state boarding schools in England 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.

How Can Education Address The Social Mobility Dilemma?

How Can Education Address The Social Mobility Dilemma?

What's new?

According to the Social Mobility Commission’s State of The Nation Report 2018/19, social mobility in the UK has remained stagnant over the past four years, despite government interventions. This means that young people from low-income homes are less likely to access high-income careers and break the cycle of poverty.

Those from better-off backgrounds are almost 80% more likely to be in a professional job than their working-class peers. Due to this gap in access to professional jobs, people from working-class backgrounds earn 24% less a year. In addition, the report found that even when those from working-class backgrounds are successful in entering professional occupations, they earn on average 17% less than their more privileged colleagues.

These facts can be quite disheartening to young people and people who are working towards improving social mobility. However, it is important that we understand these issues so that we can develop strategies that are effective and sustainable. It may be a complicated issue, but we can start working on it if we make at least two significant changes – improving education and increasing the number of high-income jobs.

Education is key
It comes as no surprise that education has a profound effect on social mobility. The widening gap in attainment between young people from low-income backgrounds and their wealthier peers has far-reaching consequences. 

In fact, a 2019 report from the Education Policy Institute has found that the gap in GCSE attainment between disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils has stopped closing, which strongly correlates with current social mobility figures. This means that by the time they leave secondary school, disadvantaged pupils are now over 18.1 months behind non-disadvantaged pupils.

This huge gap means that young people from low-income backgrounds are not able to access university or other higher education routes, which means that they are shut out from accessing professional and high-income careers, which makes it increasingly difficult to break out of the cycle of poverty.

So how can we close this gap? Well, firstly we can help young people from low-income homes to access tutoring and mentoring programmes. Good tutors and mentors provide an invaluable resource to help young people to understand difficult topics, improve attainment, increase personal development skills, and develop strategies to reach career aspirations and goals. At the moment, young people from low-income homes simply cannot afford a good tutor or mentor. After school tutoring and mentoring programmes in state schools should be funded by the government so that these young people are provided with the same support as their peers from private schools.

State school funding should be increased to improve the opportunities and resources that they can provide to their pupils. This includes more funding for extracurricular activities and more funding for support staff. The University of Bath found that young people who participate in extracurricular activities are able to gain confidence and build up their social skills which is much sought after by employers. They are also more likely to aspire to go on to higher or further education. Unfortunately, the Social Mobility Commission reported huge disparities in children’s participation rates across a wide range of extra-curricular activities depending on their social background, with young people from wealthier families being much more likely to take part in every type of activity especially music and sport. This can be changed if state schools are able to provide access to a wide range of high-quality extracurricular activities.

With more funding, state schools will also be able to employ more support staff. This can help to reduce teacher workload which will increase the contact time between teachers and their pupils. An increase in contact time will give young people more time to understand difficult topics and increase the amount of individual attention given to them. Schools will also be able to employ full-time staff to support their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing needs. The Social Mobility Commission reported that young people from more disadvantaged areas are more likely to suffer from lower levels of wellbeing, which has far-reaching effects on their academic and personal development.

After secondary school, young people from low-income homes also need more support in accessing higher education routes such as colleges and universities. The Government has worked on increasing apprenticeships and will also introduce T-levels and other further education routes. However, according to the report from the Education Policy Institute, this has led to an over-representation of disadvantaged students in further education, which actually damages the government’s ambition of rectifying imbalances between further and higher education. Access to colleges and universities needs to be improved for young people from low-income homes so that they are able to attain the qualifications to allow them to access high-income and professional careers. 

This can be done through the introduction of a student premium to help college and university students from low-income homes, according to an article by London Metropolitan University. University access should also be further improved by increasing access to universities with higher prestige so that young people from low-income homes are able to compete fairly with their wealthier peers when looking for a job.

Increasing the number of high-income jobs
It’s all well and good to improve education and narrow the gap in attainment, but what will happen after school and university when even more young people need to compete for a job in a high-income career field. 

The good news is that over the last few decades, there has been a growth in the proportion of professional jobs and a corresponding decline in the proportion of working-class jobs, with the Social Mobility Commission reporting that nearly half of all current jobs are professional, while less than a third are working class. However, despite this growth, those from high-income backgrounds continue to get most of these top jobs, squeezing out those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

This means that there is still a fierce amount of competition for a high-income career, and if more young people are able to access university and higher education, then the competition will become even fiercer. So, it is imperative that the number of high-income and professional jobs is increased to meet the greater demand so that young people from low-income homes are able to access high-paying careers. It’s also important to increase the number of high-income jobs to allow their wealthier peers to still be able to access high-paying careers. If they are shut out of high-income jobs, it will cause downward mobility which further worsens the issue of social mobility in future generations.

The Government needs to invest in creating more professional jobs by increasing investment in growing industries such as digital and technology, increasing investment in small businesses and entrepreneurship, and attracting more investment by continually developing and strengthening the workforce.

By improving education and increasing the number of high-income jobs, more young people from low-income homes will be able to access high-paying careers, which will stimulate social mobility and break the cycle of poverty for future generations.  The issue may be complex, but it can be solved if the Government, the private sector, and non-profit organisations are able to work together and do their part.

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.

An Interview with a Parent: ”The online maths tutoring sessions have definitely helped her excel in maths. ”

An Interview with a Parent: ”The online maths tutoring sessions have definitely helped her excel in maths. ”

Parent Spotlight What's new?

We had the pleasure of interviewing a parent of one of the scholars on the Bright Ambitions Programme this term. It was great to hear about her experience with the programme and to find out if being on the programme made any positive impact on her daughter’s life.

How did you find out about GT Scholars?
We first got introduced to the programme when Laura’s religious (RE) teacher passed on information about a GT Scholars Workshop called the Career Insight: Pre Launch Event. Laura was very interested in going and shared the information with me. Just days before, my friend and I had a conversation about career choices and about the fact that most young people do not have enough in-depth information on different careers these days. After she attended the workshop she was fascinated by the different career choices available to her. This workshop was a real eye-opener for my daughter and after the workshop, she decided she was not completely set on pursuing a career as an architect and wanted to look more into a career in business. Since then, she’s been thinking about a career where she can combine her love for art and her interest in business.

Have you seen any positive change in your daughter since she joined the Bright Ambitions programme?
I’ve definitely seen a lot of improvement in her maths. It’s great because I cannot help her that much with maths since it’s not one of my strong areas. It was important for her to fill in the gaps on areas that she’s been struggling with. Maths is an important subject for my daughter because she’ll definitely need it for the career paths she’s interested in. Since having her regular online tutoring and mentoring sessions she’s become more confident. She recently completed her exams and we are very pleased with the results. My daughter has moved up an entire set in Maths and she is also one of the top two students of her class!

Do you feel that it was worth enrolling Laura to the Bright Ambitions programme?
I would say yes, it was definitely worth it. The online maths tutoring sessions have definitely helped her excel in maths and the mentoring sessions have helped build her confidence and made her more open-minded.

As a parent, how did you find interacting with the tutors and mentors?
I am very pleased with Derek, he is a very nice guy and he’s absolutely wonderful as a tutor. Our mentor, Rachel is also a wonderful lady and my daughter gets on well with her. She really guided her on finding her own career path and keeping her options open.

What do you like about the fact that tutoring is done online?
What I like most about online tutoring is the convenience of it. It eliminates the stress of having to travel to a location for every tutoring session and my daughter can enjoy her tutoring sessions in the comfort of our home. The fact that there is a dedicated tutor that works with her to reach her goals is also great.

Would you recommend GT Scholars to other parents out there looking for a tutoring and mentoring programme?
Yes, I would because I think it works out and is worth it in the end. The results are great!

In the Know – Take charge of your university prep!

In the Know – Take charge of your university prep!

In The Know What's new?

According to UCAS, there are 37,000 undergraduate courses at over 370 universities across the UK! Together with choosing the right course and the right university, there are also many other things young people need to think about before starting their university journey. Here are a few upcoming activities to help your child make the right choice.

UK University Education Fair
Boost Education Service will be running the biggest UK University Education fair for students in London. Young people will have the chance to meet more than 50 leading UK university representatives face to face in one place. They will also be able to receive on-spot assessments, learn about available scholarships and funding, and get one-to-one admission support. This free event will be taking place on Wednesday 24th July from 10.30am. Find out more here

Get Started: Writing a Personal Statement
Birkbeck, University of London is running a free workshop that will help young people to write a unique and interesting personal statement for their university applications. Open to young people who may or may not want to study at Birkbeck, the workshop will help them think about their personal motivations and life experience, start drafting their personal statement and get feedback on your from experienced professionals. The workshop will take place on Wednesday 24th July at 6pm. Find out more here

University Admission Guidance
Crimson Education is running personalised meetings for young people and their parents to learn more about top universities and understanding what it takes to gain admission to these universities. From university selection to interview prep, they want to support you with every aspect of your application process. These meetings are free and will be taking place on Tuesday 30th July from 4pm. Find out more 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.

Should We Focus on Schools or The Home to Improve Social Mobility?

Should We Focus on Schools or The Home to Improve Social Mobility?

What's new?

With a leadership election and a cabinet reshuffle looming, the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP’s speech at a Reform event last week on social mobility will likely be his last. It continued to be shaped around his flagship “seven key truths about social mobility” that he pioneered while chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility. It focused on five areas of disadvantage: ethnicity, language, place, the home and childhood adversity. Most significantly, Hinds placed emphasis on the influence of the home (“the last taboo in public policy”) that he had noted a year previous as having the strongest influence on disadvantage. But what was new in this speech, what will be the legacy of Theresa May’s Government on social mobility and where does the future lie?

Home is where the disadvantage is
A heavy emphasis was placed by Hinds on early-stage development – if, what and how children are taught in the home via their parents. Hinds used an eye-opening statistic: Children who experience parental disengagement at home are the equivalent of nine grades lower across eight GCSE subjects than their peers. The promise on how this will be resolved was an ambiguous, but not “patronising and lecturing” programme to help support parents that will arrive in July. This follows on from Hinds’ promise last year, made during his first few months as Secretary of State for Education at the Resolution Foundation, that the development of apps to help parents create a home learning environment for children would be encouraged. The result of that reached its first stage in February 2019, where parents in 12 pilot areas across the country were given interactive learning tools and tips via text message to help support their children’s early language and literacy development. 

There was also a heavy emphasis on mental health, with Hinds celebrating the increased attention given to the issue across all cross-sections of society. Mental health is a much-needed area of focus that has also been given heavy significance by the review of the Government’s Children in Need policy paper, which focuses on the most vulnerable children. Measures announced to support children included a plan to ensure new teachers in England are trained in how to spot the early warning signs of mental illness, with better sharing of information between councils and schools and tackling of absence and exclusions. 

The elephants in the room
Yet the elephants in the room were apparent: positive and encouraging moves in early stage development and mental health are only being hindered in other ways. Hundreds of children’s centres which are key support systems for disadvantaged families and key environments for early investment in children are being closed across the UK as a result of cuts to council funding. Total school spending per pupil has also fallen by 8% between 2009-10 and 2017-18, and schools have only been too vocal about the limit this has placed on support staff such as school counsellors in what has been deemed a “mental health crisis” in schools.

Too cool for school
While Hinds is correct when he states that “schools cannot do everything”, they are just as character-forming and as developmental a space as the home. When schools remain underfunded, they won’t be able to even meet the margins of their responsibilities towards disadvantaged students, and most importantly the generations of disadvantaged students of today who are too late to garner the benefits of early development initiatives. Without adequate levels of funding for schools and local councils, the positives of the Government’s measures will only be cancelled out.

This is viewed only too clearly through the establishment of the Pupil Premium, brought in in 2011 as a grant to help schools in England decrease the attainment gap for the most disadvantaged children. Despite this, school funding has been cut back since 2010 and according to Education Datalab, in 2017, the attainment gap between the long-term disadvantaged (those on Free School Meals) and other groups grew. 

There is also the argument used by the All-Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility in its 2019 report, ‘Closing the Regional Attainment Gap’, that stated that evidence was growing behind the stance that the “single most important factor” in raising a disadvantaged pupil’s attainment is the “quality of the teacher providing the instruction”. Hinds’ “seven key truths about social mobility” also points to the fact that education can break the multigenerational cycle of disadvantage and that the most important factor in education is the quality of teaching.  

But schools in England continue to face teacher shortages, with teacher-pupil ratios rising from 15.5 pupils per teacher in 2010 to 17 in 2018. Teachers also face heavy workloads, and many Science & Maths teachers were found to not have the relevant degrees. While the Education Endowment Foundation recently published new guidance for schools on where to invest the Pupil Premium and identified investment in teachers as the first tier of investment, this is limited to primary and secondary education. The needs of higher education and specifically colleges, which a high proportion of disadvantaged students attend, are neglected. 

The two sides of progress
There have, of course, been steps made towards social mobility in the past year, most notably the commitment made by UK universities to invest in programmes aimed at widening access, which Hinds challenged them to last year. There has also been an increase in awareness and interest towards apprenticeships and further research commitments to understanding social mobility and its web of influencing factors. Hinds’ commitment to exploring this web of factors – the complex interplay between home and school – is a positive and encouraging approach to social mobility rather than just being purely focused on academic learning. However, focusing on one to the detriment of the other is an injustice to the millions of disadvantaged students in underfunded schools today, and replacing positive initiatives solely with apps is an injustice to the millions of disadvantaged families both in the present and the future.  

Shortly before Hinds’ speech in April, the Social Mobility Commission’s annual ‘State of the Nation’ report rang loudly in the ears of all working towards social mobility with its statement that social mobility has remained stagnant for the past 4 years. As Theresa May exits No 10 with her legacy of £27bn for education in the next spending review in tatters, and the sound of leading man Boris Johnson’s pledge to ensure every secondary school in England receives at least £5,000 per pupil (despite the fact that schools are already supposed to receive a minimum of £4,800 per pupil), it remains to be seen whether progress on social mobility will be music to the Government’s ears in the future. 

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

Great Ideas For One-to-One Tutoring Sessions

Great Ideas For One-to-One Tutoring Sessions

Volunteers What's new?

Tutoring should be a fulfilling experience for your scholar and for yourself. It should not be something that will be dreaded by your scholar and it should be something that is different from how your scholar learns at school.

With that being said, there can sometimes be a tug-of-war between trying to keep the tutoring sessions serious to complete the task at hand and making the sessions enjoyable. Creating a balance between the two is key, and once you are able to achieve that, you will find yourself looking forward to the tutoring sessions with your scholar and they will run more smoothly and effectively. 

One thing to keep in mind is to maintain your structure in terms of the content you intend to teach and the goals you have for those sessions, but be flexible in how you deliver the content and also how you interact with your scholar. Here are a few ideas you can use to keep your tutoring sessions energetic and effective.

Use icebreakers
Your first one-to-one tutoring session can be nerve-wracking for both you and your scholar. One of the ways to combat this feeling is to create or implement session icebreakers. This is a good way to get both of you comfortable and a good way to get to know a bit more about each other beyond the formalities of tutor and scholar. These icebreakers can simply be a 5-minute discussion about general topics outside of the planned content. These discussions can also help you to find the best ways to make the sessions most effective for your scholar.

Personalise your sessions
It is one thing to tutor someone, and another to tutor them effectively and produce the best results. It is important to find out more about your scholar and what they are looking to get out of your sessions and also what they want to personally achieve at school and beyond. Once you can establish a general outline for the first few sessions, you can personalise the sessions in a way which works well for both you and your scholar. 

Be supportive
Providing your scholar with support during each of your one-to-one sessions can greatly improve the way in which you interact with one another and it helps to boost their confidence. You need to be encouraging and to show them that the tutoring sessions are a safe space for them to be open about the areas or topics they struggle in. This will allow them to feel more comfortable and confident in how they approach the content you are tutoring, as well as establishing a respectful and comfortable relationship with you as their tutor. 

Encourage independent thinking
Tutoring is also important for encouraging your scholar to think independently. The idea behind this is to foster a growth mindset within your scholar so that they are able to tackle tasks independently and build their self-confidence. One way to do this is to help them to stand on their own feet and to think beyond the assistance you provide. During your tutoring sessions, you can create a short quiz or other mentally stimulating techniques that will help your scholar to build confidence in the subject and to not be dependent on your teachings alone. This will shift their perspective on how they approach topics, and it will promote their ability to think critically.

Engage your scholar
Another way to make your one-to-one tutoring sessions more productive and fun for both you and your scholar is to keep them engaged. During the session, you can get your scholar to actively participate by asking questions as the session progresses. If you only wait to ask questions at the end, you might lose their attention during the session. Keeping them engaged also creates room for them to ask any questions they may have regarding a particular topic and it allows them to better understand the topics being presented. 

Switch gears
Rather than sticking to the conventional methods of tutoring, you should use different methods to relay the information to your scholar. There are tons of learning tools available for you to use such as online videos, presentations, and other content. Introducing different learning tools makes the sessions less monotonous and more engaging, and it creates different ways for your scholar to learn and retain information. You can also get your scholar to participate by getting them to create short presentations to go over the content and pose any questions they may have for you at the end of their presentation. Furthermore, you can also incorporate the use of funny gifs or memes to get a particular point across. Just as long as it does not take away from the effectiveness of your tuition and their ability to learn, you should always explore new ways to teach your scholar.

Get their feedback
It takes two to tango, and feedback should not only be for you to give but also for you to receive from your scholar. Allow them to express and share their thoughts through feedback sessions, and be open to any constructive criticism. This feedback can then be used to learn how best to work with and for each other through your sessions.

For many scholars, learning can seem like such a task. However, your tutoring sessions should shed a different light on learning and stimulate their desire to learn. So don’t be afraid to try something new in your sessions and give you and your scholar something to always look forward 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 make a significant difference in young people’s lives.

How To Keep Your Scholar Interested In Their Tutoring Sessions

How To Keep Your Scholar Interested In Their Tutoring Sessions

Volunteers What's new?

Being a tutor can be one of the most satisfying and fulfilling roles a person can take on. The opportunity to get to help and guide a young person to improve academically and seeing their progress from the hours you put in during tutoring is worth the time and effort invested.

However, tutoring can sometimes be challenging when trying to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going from the first session to the last session with a scholar. But, there are a few things you can do as a tutor to avoid this or in some cases get out of this slump. Here are a few ways to keep your scholar interested in their tutoring sessions.

Understanding your Scholar
One of the best ways to avoid the disinterest of a scholar is to understand them from the get-go, including what works best for them in terms of grasping concepts and how they relate to you. A constructive way to go about this is to make sure that they are comfortable enough to be able to discuss any potential issues that may or may not arise in the time that you are tutoring them. To do this, you need to create a safe space for your sessions. In creating this safe space, it is also important to establish boundaries with your scholar regarding respect for your role and understanding that there are also rules to ensure that you can do your best as their tutor.

Mutual Feedback
Another avenue to explore is having regular feedback sessions with your scholar. These can focus on one of two aspects. The first aspect is where you ask them how they are finding the tutoring sessions with you and if you are engaging them enough and relaying your knowledge well enough that they are able to comprehend everything. This can be done after your session or you can get them to fill out a questionnaire you’ve prepared via email correspondence. This will let you know where you stand as a tutor and whether the way in which you approach the sessions is working.

The second aspect is where you give them feedback on their progress and the areas you feel they should work on outside of the tutoring sessions. How you approach this feedback session is very important and this is where understanding your scholar also plays in. Some scholars are sensitive to constructive criticism, which can be due to a lack of confidence. So it is important that you give them feedback in the friendliest way possible. It’s also important to reward and praise any progress made. If they feel that you as a tutor don’t see or acknowledge the strides that they are making, it can cause a nonchalant approach towards future sessions and work assigned to them.

Switch Gears
During your time as their tutor, it would be good to implement different approaches to each session in order to keep boredom and disinterest at bay. Incorporating fun but effective elements to the sessions such as interactive games or quizzes can create new ways of learning topics. As long as they do not distract from the learning, these activities foster a positive environment for your scholar to flourish and learn.

When it comes to the structure of the sessions, it is good to be consistent but it’s also important to make sure it’s interactive and inviting. If they enjoy the session, it makes the task at hand easier to approach and the learning more effective. Other elements that you can look into are visual elements such as pictures, GIFs and memes that are related to the topic. You can also use short videos and other activities that stimulate the brain. This will ensure that your scholar leaves your tutoring sessions feeling enlightened and energised.

The Scholar becomes the Master
“But I’m the tutor!” Yes, you most certainly are. This role reversal simply means that you designate the last few minutes to let your scholar teach you what you have taught them in that session. This helps the scholar revise what they have learnt and it also helps you to determine how they are grasping and handling the content you are teaching them. It doesn’t have to be the entire session’s work, but key components of the session that you want to make sure they have understood.

This can also be a spur-of-the-moment test to help them develop their ability to think on their feet and build their confidence in the subject. It also pushes them to revise their work more so that they are not caught off guard in future sessions. This exercise is also beneficial to you as the tutor as you get to observe how effective your tutoring has been and how to improve on it. It fosters growth for both you and your scholar.

Have Patience
Having patience when tutoring a scholar is one of the most important necessities. Some scholars require more time to grasp concepts than others, so you need to be patient with them. Having patience also allows you to take a step back and be more understanding and accommodating of your scholar and it sets the tone between the two of you. It will show them that you are happy to help them and it will encourage them when they are struggling. Patience also goes a long way for many scholars and it is a contributing factor to how your scholar participates and adjusts to your tutoring over the course of the programme.

Tutoring is a rewarding experience that positively impacts you and your scholar in more ways than one. If you feel like you would like to help in making a difference in the lives of young people, then you definitely should volunteer to be a GT Scholars tutor.

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